Guest post by Chrystal Denmark Porter, the Assistant Dean of Sport Science at Endicott College, in Beverly, MA.
Note from Dan: One of my main missions in life is to teach academia about personal branding and start an international class on the topic for freshman college students. Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success would be the textbook! It’s taken a long time to convince professors, career counselors and students of the importance of personal branding as it pertains to getting a job, living a fulfilling life and gaining confidence in their abilities. Basically, I want to transform these students into commanders by using the personal branding process as a compass (see my logo 😉 ). Recently, I exchanged tweets with Chrystal, who teaches a class, enjoys this blog and wrote a guest post on her experiences teaching personal branding in the classroom. This is music to my ears and one of my favorite blog posts ever (out of nearly 500). I predicted this would happen next year and it’s starting to come true. I hope you enjoy this and if you’re in academia, please pay attention!
When my students entered my Sport Enterprise course this past semester I declared on the first day that they would enter the class as mere students, but would leave the course thinking as pre-professionals. Like most college students they were unimpressed, unfazed, and not intrigued by my prediction, primarily because I was not providing any hints about what they needed to do to earn an A in the class.
Over the first few weeks of the semester I ran the course in a very traditional manner. I lectured, they took notes, completed assignments, gave presentations, and stressed over what they needed to know for the exam. After I was confident the majority had mastered the major concepts related to the actual subject of the course, which included hypothesizing why management make the decisions they do, I took the course in another direction and returned to my initial objective.
How to make your class care about personal branding
As we discussed the rationale for managerial decision making, I began to ask students if a manager was hiring, would it make sense for them to take a risk on them personally? And more importantly, what did they need to do now, as students, to make sure that they would be an obvious choice once they graduate?
As I helped them understand the number games associated with our industry (i.e. the number of students within the major, the number of entry level opportunities, the number of actual positions of significance, etc.), it became painfully obvious to the students that they would need to do a lot more than have a bubbling personality and burning desire if they wanted not only a true shot to reach their current professional goals, but at the very least entry into the industry.
As they began to tune into the idea that they are individually responsible for taking action (See my command your career post), developing relationships, and creating their personas and personal brands, they became invested and immersed in learning what it would take to stand out from all the others who are trying to do the exact same things they are trying to do when there are limited opportunities. So the final weeks of the semester we had discussions on how it was important to create your own personal strategy and your individual brand, and all the steps that that might entailed.
Student feedback on personal branding
At the conclusion of the course I asked each student to comment on what they now understood about utilizing their student status and what they needed to change so they could build an effective personal brand and here is what they said:
“It’s interesting that no one tells you about concepts such as personal branding until you’re halfway done with school. After reading [the Personal Branding Blog] and discussing what we have in class, I feel as though there should be a class freshmen year that teaches these things. Living at college it’s hard not to live in your own personal bubble. We don’t feel the pressure to get a job until senior year and we have an almost ‘I’m unbreakable’ view on life. I wish someone had told me two years ago to start marketing myself.” – M. M.-Junior
“I plan on starting to put myself out there as much as possible as soon as break is over. Around that time I will know if I am going to grad school, law school, or entering the workforce. If I do decide to enter the work force, I will use all the resources we have been presented in class, as I feel that everyone can use them to their fullest advantage.” – G. S.-Senior
“Until I read [the Personal Branding Blog] I wasn’t really serious about networking, but now I know I should have gotten to meet so many more people…Being a lot more versatile throughout my college years would have helped me know what direction I would want to head in May…I think this class would have also helped me if I was able to take it earlier than I have.” – A.O.-Senior
“Knowing what you know is only half the battle when it comes to landing a good job; the other half is the people you know and your determination. Now at the end of my college years I will start doing these things better late than never.” – A.R.-Senior
Hopefully these lessons learned will serve as a springboard to accomplishing their goals. They will come to find that this is a continuous endeavor in their professional lives. Like any other worthy goal, laying an early foundation can only stand to benefit you as you travel down your professional path.
Dr. Chrystal Denmark Porter is a life-long learner and member of the Higher Education Consultant Association (HECA), National Academic Advisors Association (NACADA), the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), and a sustaining member of the Mortar Board National Honor Society. In 2008, she accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Sport Science with Endicott College in Beverly, MA. In addition to her experience in higher education, Dr. Porter has worked for the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, The Women’s Sports Foundation, The Bonham Sport Marketing Group, The Ohio University Athletic Department, and the Young Americans Bank. Follow her on Twitter.