Portfolium Talks Product, Internships

Portfolium is an academic portfolio network and showcase that connects young talent with opportunity. The company has years of experience helping college students and recent grads secure jobs and internships, and they just launched their mobile iOS app a few weeks ago. We sat down with them last week to talk about their product, how they’re helping students get internships, and some of the weirdest stuff that’s been posted on Portfolium to secure a job.

Q: Tell me about Portfolium and how it benefits internship and job seekers.
We initially created Portfolium because we encountered the need to showcase what we had accomplished in school and a means of demonstrating who we really were – beyond the restrictive limits of a traditional resume or LinkedIn profile. College students today are acquiring in-demand skills outside of the classroom and often have extracurriculars and other activities that make them “extra hireable”. Portfolium allows them to showcase these skills, activities and experiences directly to employers looking to hire young, eager talent.

Working at a startup you have to have a lot of different skills and be really passionate, and just reading a resume really doesn’t help startup founders find great choices.

Q: How does Portfolium work for employers?
We encountered a startup founder who explained to us he had viewed almost 300 resumes for a web design position. We couldn’t help but point out the irony in reading bullet points off of a resume about an applicant’s previous websites they’d designed rather than just looking at the websites themselves. That’s what Portfolium does for employers. It puts the applicant’s previous work right in front of their face. Seeing is believing, and often times we don’t want to admit it, but we don’t always know exactly what we’re looking for. Sometimes we need to see it to realize it was what we wanted. Many EvoNexus companies have used the employer side of Portfolium to recruit students, including AllSeq, MeetSoci, nPruv, and Nulu. Beyond just previous projects and work samples, students are able to showcase their hobbies and interests, which help employers like these gauge potential cultural fit at their company – a crucial, and often over-looked criteria in the recruiting process.

[Here’s what Michae Heltzen, CEO of All Seq, had to say about Portfolium]
We were looking for an Executive Assistant and we used Portfolium to gain access to the talent pool of UCSD and other universities that we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.

It was easy to post a job description and we got a ton of well qualified applicants quickly. The advantage of using Portfolium over other job listings was that we got better insight into the candidate’s different skills sets and real-life competences beyond their degrees. When hiring it can be hard to distinguish what makes the best candidate stand out, especially when looking at younger candidates or recent grads, but Portfolium made the process much easier and more effective.

Q: What about for students?
It’s the ideal tool to show what you’ve accomplished in and out of the classroom. Engineering students, for example, complete amazing hands-on projects building robots, bridges, UAVs, etc. LinkedIn and the traditional resume don’t really cater to a student such as this and don’t give them a place to talk about those projects, the skills and lessons that come with them, and relevant employment opportunities based on those particular projects. We believe that resumes shouldn’t be limited to listing only professional experience – especially when it’s often hard to get professional experience as a college student.

Q: You’ve talked a lot about students and recent graduates, but is there a market for Portfolium for people that are older?
Yes, of course. Portfolium allows its users to prove all of the things one would find on their resume – you can add photos, files and other content to bring the bullet points of your resume to life. There are professors in their 50s and 60s using Portfolium to post and share their research projects.

Q: How do the job descriptions on Portfolium differ from “standard” job descriptions? Are they more intangible focused?
Yes. Instead of just posting the requirements of the job, companies are able to post a specific problem or even ask applicants to prove very specific skills. This in turn lets applicants build their Portfolium entries tailored to that specific opportunity.

Q: Does Portfolium help people build their Portfolium entries?
The not so obvious benefit of Portfolium being a network is the fact that students can be inspired by the work and projects of others across all fields of study. They can explore and connect with like-minded students and collaborate on new projects – and ultimately new entries.

Q: Who are some of your biggest partners?
We’ve partnered with some large universities and university systems actually, including the University of California system, CSU San Marcos, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a few others. We realized that we would be a value add to the university and in turn they could help us market and promote our product to their students.

Q: Is your goal to kill the resume as we know it?
I don’t think that needs to be our goal, but I do think that’s something that will happen on its own. We just want to be on the cutting edge of that change.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing someone has posted to showcase a skill?
A marketing agency here in San Diego asked applicants to create a rap video to see how creative and bold students could be. They ended up hiring a great fitting employee because he submitted a terrific rap video.

Q: Last question, how has the EvoNexus incubator helped Portfolium?
It’s helped tremendously. The validation of getting into EvoNexus was a great starting point; just knowing that the committee had vetted us really opened eyes to a lot of the universities in the early stages. The advisors and mentors that took an interest now sit on our advisory board. The connections that were created lead to university partnerships and we met our amazing CTO Daniel Marashlian here at EvoNexus when he was working with his company RapidEngage.

To learn more about Portfolium and create your own account, visit https://portfolium.com/.