Create. Share. Engage.

Mike Joiner-Hill: Represent yourself through a portfolio

October 25, 2023 Mahara Project and Mike Joiner-Hill Season 1 Episode 30
Create. Share. Engage.
Mike Joiner-Hill: Represent yourself through a portfolio
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Mike Joiner-Hill, MSW, is Associate Director of Career Coaching and Education - Humanities & Sciences, in Stanford Career Education and works in the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab alongside Helen L. Chen. In his interview, Mike explains why a portfolio is a useful way to represent yourself when thinking about your career. He also looks far into the future and predicts a new kind of portfolio.

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn


Click through to the episode notes for the transcript. 

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter about Mahara and portfolios.

Production information
Production: Catalyst IT
Host: Kristina Hoeppner
Artwork: Evonne Cheung
Music: The Mahara tune by Josh Woodward

Kristina Hoeppner 00:05

Welcome to 'Create. Share. Engage.' This is the podcast about portfolios for learning and more for educators, learning designers, and managers are keen on integrating portfolios with their education and professional development practices. 'Create. Share. Engage.' is brought to you by the Mahara team at Catalyst IT. My name is Kristina Hoeppner. 

Kristina Hoeppner 00:27

Today I'm speaking with Mike Joiner-Hill. He is the Associate Director of Career Coaching and Education for Humanities and Sciences at Stanford Career Education and works in the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab (ILPL). Thank you for your time today, Mike, to speak with me.

Mike Joiner-Hill 00:44

Thanks for inviting me, Kristina. I'm excited to talk with you.

Kristina Hoeppner 00:47

I look forward to learning more about the ILPL and its role in the Career Education at Stanford. But to start out, Mike, tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you do?

Mike Joiner-Hill 00:58

The short and sweet of it is I work in Career Education. I'm at Stanford. And so a lot of my work is tailored towards helping students, undergraduates, master's level students connect the different experiences that they're having in their academic journeys with different career opportunities. For so many of them, it's, you know, a period of transition or several transitions, really, and it can be really, really difficult to try to figure out, you know, the answer to the question of what comes next for me. So a lot of my work is geared towards whether it be in a one on one coaching session or a one to many workshop setting, really helping students to reflect upon all the things that they've been doing so far, but also start to think about how can I translate those experiences those skills to what comes next, helping them to explore just even what's out there for what comes next because the challenge for a lot of the students, whether again, they're undergraduates, master's level students, it's figuring out like, what's even out there. So it's hard to know what I want, if I don't even know what's out there. The work of myself and the team that I work with is geared towards helping them understand what's out there, but also helping them understand, you know, what is it that you've done so far that will prepare you for pursuing whatever it is that you decide you want to do next?

Kristina Hoeppner 02:06

How did you actually get started working in career education, career coaching because your bachelor's is in psychology and then you also have a Masters of Social Work in Interpersonal Practice and Mental Health? How did you make the jump then to career coaching?

Mike Joiner-Hill 02:22

It's a great question. It was an unexpected turn for me. So in undergrad, I pursued psychology as a major because I just wanted to understand how do people think, how do they feel, and how do those things impact the way that they behave? I wanted to understand why are we the way that we are as people? Why do we treat each other the way that we do? All those sorts of things. Ultimately, I wanted to help people in some sort of way. And so I thought, you know, what, what better way to help people then through, you know, interpersonal practice, or just therapy, right? I really grew to understand just how important mental health was. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 02:55

During my undergraduate career, I was a former student athlete actually at the University of Michigan, and I had a pretty bad injury my sophomore year that essentially ended my athletic career. So at that point, I was faced with this moment of okay, for the first 20 years of my life, I've really seen myself as an athlete, and now I have to figure out what comes next if I'm not an athlete? What other parts of my identity are really important to me? What are the ones that I want to be important to me going forward? Having to really deal with that at 20 years old while also having classes and family and friends and all these other things to navigate, it was really, really challenging, and my own mental health, I would say, suffered because of it.

Mike Joiner-Hill 03:33

And so what happened was, I took what I kind of knew I was already interested in, which was psychology, how do people interact with one another, how do we internalise different thoughts and feelings that we have, and how do those become different behaviours, I took all of that, I coupled it with the challenges I was having in transitioning to the next stage of my own life, and I decided, you know what I think social work is going to be the route for me, particularly working with the student athlete population and helping them to navigate the challenges that come with transitioning from, you know, this identity of being an athlete for so long to now have to figure out something else. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 04:07

You know, given the stats that are already out there around the very small percentage of collegiate student athletes who go on to perform at the professional level in whatever their sport may be, I knew that there were so many folks who are going to be struggling with a similar sort of transition that I was. Now mine was due to an injury at the time. Granted, I don't think I was going to be good enough to be a pro track athlete any way [laughs], but I still had to deal with that transitional period. So I decided, you know, I want to assist other folks who are going to likely have challenges with making that transition as well. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 04:36

I got my master's degree in social work. I got a chance to work with some really, really amazing populations of individuals. I got to work with folks who were on the spectrum, who also had some co-occurring diagnoses as well. I got a chance to work with boys who are adjudicated for nonviolent crimes and really helping them to make sense of why they made the decisions that they made, how certain things that were going on chemically within their brain rains were impacting their ability to make decisions that they would be really proud of going forward. I really enjoyed that type of work. And as exciting as it was, I thought, you know what, I also have this other side of me [laughs] that really enjoys working with the college age population, helping them to navigate all the challenges that come with that transitional stage of life. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 05:19

During my graduate education, I was working with the women's basketball team at the University of Michigan, really helping them manage their academic progress. But what ended up happening was towards the end of a lot of those nights of working with them during the study table hours, they would confide in me about different challenges that they were facing outside of sports, outside of the classroom. And they didn't really understand like, how do I figure out what's going to come next for me? How do I navigate all these different things? And at that point, I was like, you know what, I think I actually want to work with college aged population, after all. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 05:48

So I was fortunate enough to get a job as an academic advisor at U of M where I enjoyed that. But I wanted the conversation to go beyond just what am I doing in the classroom and how can I make progress toward degree? I wanted to have conversations with students that also talked about all this other stuff that's going on that's going to impact whatever my next step might be. There was an opportunity to help build a Career Services Center at the University of Michigan. So being hired as one of the first two career coaches at this career centre for liberal arts students at University of Michigan, it was really exciting. I got a chance to utilise all of my previous experiences in mental health, but also on the academic side of things and have to utilise all of those and grow my ability to understand the job market, understand what it means to explore yourself, and how what you've done, what you care about can translate to whatever it is, again, career wise, it's going to come next.

Kristina Hoeppner 06:35

Thank you so much for sharing that. That's an amazing story how you benefited from your traumatic experiences because you could not pursue the career that you had envisaged first, but made something out of it and are now helping others navigate that same space or a similar space. So thank you, Mike. Did you already encounter portfolios then at the University of Michigan or only when you transitioned to Stanford? I think it was last year or so, right?

Mike Joiner-Hill 07:04

Yes, I've been at Stanford now for about a year and a half. I'd say my first interaction with a portfolio and I'm using the term 'portfolio' a little loosely, when I say this was going to be actually with LinkedIn, I think it was 2010. I like to think of myself as one of the early adopters of LinkedIn. I remember I just got an email from a family friend, and it said, 'Hey, you're invited to connect on' at the time I couldn't even pronounce it. I was like 'link, link, linked in? What is this?' I don't know what exactly it was. And so I got that invite, I clicked on it, I checked it out, and at the time thinking, right, these are all these really like sophisticated, accomplished professionals. And when I say all of these, it was - LinkedIn was not [laughs] what it was now. Everybody was not on it, you know, but at the time, it felt like it was a ton of people, at least to me, but everybody else just felt like they were so much further along in their career journey than I was at the time. And so I saw the profiles, and I thought, okay, is this actually going to be something that's going to stick around or is this going to be another one of these social media things that comes and goes because somebody had an idea one day? I think it's safe to say LinkedIn [laughs] has been here to stay and it will continue to be relevant. And so that was my first exposure to portfolios. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 08:11

Now in terms of actually building out your own website, I would say that didn't really become something that I was introduced to really until my time at the University of Michigan in career coaching and getting a chance to work with students who were really interested in finding ways of representing, say, different projects that they've worked on, right? So evidence of expertise or experience in a particular area. I got a chance to work with those students, and they said, 'Hey, I'm gonna build this thing for myself' and getting a chance to view that was something that was really amazing to me. Like, it also made me wish I was maybe a little more creative myself [laughs], especially when I was a student of like oh, I could have - I had all these different identities, and I could represent it in different ways, but that's neither here nor there.

Mike Joiner-Hill 08:51

I got a chance to see the work that the students were putting together. It's really exciting. And so by the time I got to Stanford, I have some familiarity with working in the portfolio space, in terms of supporting students and developing their own. But then I got an invitation to join the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab or ILPL and for me, it was like, you know, I think this is going to be the next most important way for students to be able to represent themselves when they're not around. We talked so much about building your brand. And I see having, you know, a portfolio as an extension of being able to build and control what your brand looks like. So it was really, really exciting for me to jump into this work.

Kristina Hoeppner 09:29

Thank you so much for mentioning the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab that Helen Chen already talked a little bit about in her episode a few months ago by now. She, Sheetal Patel, and also Margot Gilliland founded that Lab, which has wonderfully become part of Career Education at Stanford so that it doesn't stand alone, but it's part of that wider infrastructure. You also already mentioned the portfolios that you encountered, LinkedIn, of course with this very templatised approach where you can't really decide much on what your portfolio should look like because it's just the branding, but then also seeing all the other showcase portfolios of the people that are creating their own websites. How do you then in the ILPL navigate the space for students wanting to create their portfolios and helping them on that journey?

Mike Joiner-Hill 10:17

So much of it for us is, and I'll speak about this, I guess from a more career educator, coaching sort of space, so much of it for us is helping students to understand there's creative freedom that you are encouraged to exercise when building out your portfolio. Now there does need to be intentionality behind it, understanding who is my audience, understanding that there's this very scary reality that folks are going to be looking at this and it's going to be a representation of me, and I can't verbally say anything to combat anything that they're thinking about if it's not actually accurate to what I intended to communicate. And so that can be something that's really scary for folks to be okay with. And yet, in this current age, where everything is on the internet, you really don't have any choice but to, I guess, you can choose to just completely go off the grid and not be on the internet, but it's very, very difficult for most, I'd say, students to be able to do that. And so for them, it's important that they understand there are going to be people who are looking at this when you're not there. And so be really intentional about the messaging that you're communicating, but also be creative. Strike a balance between being aware and trying to cater to whoever your audiences, but also staying true to yourself and ensuring that you're confident with whatever it is that you're including on this portfolio. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 11:34

So much of it for us, is also helping students to identify their own creative style. I think so many people will downplay like, I'm not really that creative, right? I can't play an instrument, or I can't draw, or I can't paint, I can't dance, I can't [laughs] do all these other things that are creative expressions. And yet, what we try to do is communicate to them that however it is that you choose to represent yourself like that as your own way of being creative and that's perfectly fine. It's not a comparison, it's not you versus someone else's portfolio, this is a representation of you. So just be comfortable and confident, whatever it is that you're aiming to produce. And then once you've actually created it, you've published it, it's not final. You can always go back and edit. If you stumble upon a new idea, you can always go back and you can you know, change something up. If you've had gotten some feedback from folks, and they say, 'You know what, this wasn't really clear to me based on the way that you represented it.' Okay, let's go back, and let's edit it if we feel like that's the best thing to do based on that feedback. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 12:29

So so much of it for us is helping them to find their own level of confidence to represent themselves online when they're not actually going to be there when other people are viewing their profiles, which can be really difficult to do. One of the things that I try to remind them though, is this is actually not too dissimilar from what you've been doing already, let's say with a résumé or writing a cover letter. This is just a representation of who you are on paper. The hope is that you're going to get an interview, and that's when you can verbally articulate all these different skills and experiences. One of the great things about the portfolio is it's so much more dynamic than what a résumé or a cover letter or even a LinkedIn can be just given the level of creativity that you can exact upon whatever your final product or something and say final, whatever your work in progress [laughs] product is going to be.

Kristina Hoeppner 13:12

I do remember a workshop that Sheetal and Helen gave once at an AAEEBL event where they talked about striking that balance between representing yourself but then also catering to the industry that you, for example, applying for a job at because of course they are different standards that different industries have different slang that is spoken and therefore kind of really bringing all of that together without losing yourself in the mix and also staying true to yourself, but also navigating that space, sometimes as an international student, or somebody who doesn't quite maybe fit the mould in order to see well, how much do I actually want to share? How comfortable am I sharing that? And what do I maybe want to leave out so that I do have a chance to get to that interview?

Mike Joiner-Hill 13:59

Absolutely. It's not an easy balance to strike. And so much of what we've been doing is talking about and this is just a career education, career coaching sort of conversations in general, there is almost always going to be this unique intersection of your social and personal identities and your professional identities and your professional journeys. And that's a difficult thing to navigate. It's not necessarily easy, and so much of it is I may be aware of what the "norm" is in a particular industry and so much about myself may not feel like it aligns with that norm. And then you're stuck at this crossroads of having to figure out do I want to continue to pursue this pathway? Okay, if I do, how much of myself do I want to show? 

Mike Joiner-Hill 14:40

So we've been working so much with our students at Stanford Career Education, but particularly in ILPL with helping them to see like, hey, there's so much about you that is amazing. You don't need to shy away from it. Now again, there are certain realities that you have to face around like, hey, if I do choose to incorporate this particular piece of maybe personal or sensitive information, it could lead to, you know, maybe certain opportunities that you thought you wanted, maybe they're not going to come your way and fairly or unfairly, that may be the case. And yet, I think there's something to be said for, okay, there's a piece of me that I choose to share that I'm really proud about and that means if this particular opportunity is no longer available to me, well, maybe that's actually a blessing in disguise of sorts, because that wasn't going to be the right space for you anyway. And over time, it was going to weigh heavily upon you. It was going to wear on your mental, your emotional health, right? And so thinking about, you know what, this opportunity wasn't for me, and maybe that's a good thing. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 15:33

So now, let me focus on, okay, I've represented myself in this particular way, and it's attracting individuals and companies and opportunities that really are going to champion these different things about me, they're going to be excited to have me join them and bring everything with me. Okay, well, now we're on to something, and now we figured out that like, hey, that balance sometimes is going to mean that certain opportunities will no longer be there, but again, maybe those opportunities weren't for you anyway. And that's okay.

Kristina Hoeppner 15:58

You've talked about the student side, and we can keep a portfolio just for ourselves to kind of record our learning and reflections on it. But oftentimes, we do create it for somebody else, and of course, in career education, the obvious somebody else is a potential employer. Have you had the chance to talk with employers and get the essence of whether they are actually looking at these portfolios, whether they are appreciating, getting to know the students better, getting to know them beyond just this very formal résumé or curriculum vitae?

Mike Joiner-Hill 16:30

I'm getting the sense that more and more employers are looking at these portfolios, and a lot of it is because students are taking the time to create them, and more and more students are including them on their résumé. So a lot of times a résumé headers now, whereas before it was your name, your phone number, your email address, all this personal information, there's still personal information, but it's being replaced now. And so now I'm seeing folks include LinkedIn URLs, or if you do have your own portfolio, your own website, you're including the URL there. Because now that résumés are being submitted almost exclusively online, as opposed to the old days where we were taking our paper résumé [laughs] and handing it in, doesn't make as much sense to have a URL there. But when you do have it hyperlinked on your digital résumé, right, that you're submitting, this is something that employers are taking a look at. It's a great opportunity for them, and I'd say particularly for those who either just want to get a better sense of the person that they may be potentially interviewing or, and / or I should say, they want to get a sense of the quality of work that they've been able to produce in the past. Looking at that portfolio can be really impactful in their decision making process. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 16:30

So we're definitely seeing more and more employers start to take a look at those, again, if they are made readily available for them to view, and I think it is making a difference. Now that part is a little more anecdotal, OK I don't have the numbers, unfortunately, to prove it just yet, and I'm hoping that we can find a more formalised manner of being able to capture that information from employers, but it does seem as if they're utilising that information to make some of these hiring decisions.

Kristina Hoeppner 17:58

It's good to hear. Who is actually then typically using the ILPL? Who comes to your classes and to your workshop sessions?

Mike Joiner-Hill 18:06

One of the great things about our attendance is it's looking to everybody [laughs]. So we're seeing students at all ages and stages. So whether you are a freshman, and you are trying to figure out, hey, I did all this really, really cool stuff in high school, now I'm in college. But what we often hear from students at that stage is 'I've been told that whatever you did in high school doesn't matter any more, right? Let me just forget about it.' Well, when we meet with those students, it's communicating well, like that's who you are, to this point, right? Like, these are accomplishments that matter. They helped you get here. So why all of a sudden, we just act as if those things aren't important? So working with them to find the confidence to continue to talk about those experiences, in a digital platform, while also continuing to seek out new ones now that they are here in this new environment, but it's helping them to do that. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 18:50

Then we also have a master's student, you know, 'I'm got a master's degree in international relations, and I'm trying to figure out, like, how can I articulate that in a way that other folks are going to understand why I have that interest and what I want to do with that interest going forward, let me check out this portfolio, and let me see if there's a way for me to be able to represent it in that format.' And so they're really excited.

Mike Joiner-Hill 19:12

Then we'll also get the PhD student who says, you know, 'I was on this pathway towards academia, and now actually, I don't think that's necessarily what I want to do. But I've been able to produce so many things over the years that I want to still be, you know, shared and viewable with other folks in the job market outside of higher education or academia. How do I go about doing that? Portfolio might be a great option for you. So we're seeing students again at all ages and stages really, really exciting because the nature of the conversation tends to be rather similar, even though the content and where they are in terms of development is going to be a bit different. 

Kristina Hoeppner 19:44

Do you actually also support faculty members who might be looking for a different opportunity either on campus or off campus?

Mike Joiner-Hill 19:53

Yeah, I mean, there are opportunities for faculty and staff to be able to interact with some members of our team, learn more about what It means to, again represent yourself online, which I think for so many of them sometimes can be a bit scary because I do think that this idea of build your brand can seem a little - I think we associate that with certain popular celebrity figures online. And people feel how they feel about these particular individuals, about their brands. And so I think sometimes it can start to feel like well, 'I'm not that, right? Like, nobody really cares about me to that degree.' 

Mike Joiner-Hill 20:27

And yet, this is your opportunity to tell your story. And your story is one of many twists and turns, and sometimes you reach the fork and you go left, sometimes you went right. And sometimes you made a left when you should have made a right and so now let's figure out how to get back, you know, where we desire to be. And so it's not a popularity contest, it's not me against someone else, this is your opportunity to tell your story. So how do you want to go about doing it, and trust us when we say that if you're willing to be courageous enough and bold enough to tell your story in a way that other people can interpret however they want to, that's a courageousness that I think an employer is going to be really excited about. It says so much about who you are and the confidence that you have in yourself. And so let's go ahead and take a chance. And let's go for it.

Kristina Hoeppner 21:11

Is that then actually also a piece of advice already that you have for students and staff wanting to create a portfolio for the next job opportunity?

Mike Joiner-Hill 21:20

Yeah, absolutely. I think when you're creating something like this, you got to be willing to be bold. I think you have to be willing to be confident, and I also think that you've got to be willing to be aware. I often tell folks, go ahead, you know, represent yourself, however you want to whoever makes up your targeted audience, but also just know and learn to be okay with them coming to some of their own conclusions when you're not around to dispute anything that they've said. And that's difficult. Again, I keep coming back to that that is challenging. That's something that's not easy to do because we want people to think really highly of us, and we want them to think really highly of our accomplishments. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 21:55

The sad part is, we can't necessarily control what other people think. We can do our best to be really intentional about how we do represent ourselves through our portfolios, but once it's out there on the internet, it's out there on the internet. Anybody can access it, and they can think whatever they want to. We try to tell folks like, hey, have an intended audience in mind, and so let's really think about what is my you know, my intended audience? What did they think about it? What's my purpose in creating this and sharing it with that audience? So let's try to prioritise some of them, maybe those opinions, but that's not always easy again because once it's out there, everybody can see it, anybody can have an opinion on it. It's a really vulnerable state to be in when let's say I am really intentional about who I'm sharing it with, who my target audience is. Maybe somebody from that audience, they're not in love with what they see. That's really, really difficult. So to remain confident through those sorts of impressions that may or may not get back to us is not always easy. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 22:46

That's why I said I'm heavy on the confidence piece because that's something that I think can wax and wane, it can go up and it can go down. But trying your best to remember like, Hey, this is why I am and if I don't feel like, you know, maybe that piece of feedback is this is what you intended to communicate, but this is what I got, and there's a lack of congruence there, a lack of alignment, okay, let me take their feedback and see if I can actually make some tweaks so that what I do intend to communicate is what's actually being received.

Kristina Hoeppner 23:10

Yeah, that feedback loop and then also the student reflecting on that feedback and looking at it, 'Okay. Can I take that other perspective? Do I see what they're seeing?' Or if I'm not seeing it, maybe as you said earlier, it is not the right thing for me to go into, and I need to pivot and look somewhere else. Maybe I've also just been using the wrong language and the wrong words for my intended target audience there.

Mike Joiner-Hill 23:35

Absolutely. I think this is building a portfolio, continuously going back to it, reviewing it, editing it, you know, making it to be what you hope for, it's a continuous learning exercise. You're learning so much more about yourself, but you're also learning about how folks you know, are receiving the message that you're trying to communicate. Then you start to develop new skills for how to present yourself, how to articulate particular things about yourself, maybe you're learning that I've been using all of these words to try to say something, maybe an image is actually going to communicate it far better than words will, which again, speaks to how excited I usually am to work with students, you know, on their portfolios because it's far more dynamic, let's say than a résumé or a cover letter, right? 

Mike Joiner-Hill 24:17

One image can change how someone perceives me, that can be really scary [laughs], and yet, this is your page though. You do have control over that. And so being able to be comfortable and confident with owning whatever it is that people are going to see on your portfolio is something that we try to communicate to whoever it is that we're working with when we're looking to create it. It's a constant learning exercise, figuring out that there are different ways to communicate a message and then sometimes words aren't going to be the most effective.

Kristina Hoeppner 24:45

So Mike, you've been involved now with career education, kind of been on the receiving end of it and also supporting others in their education around getting a job, getting an internship and using portfolios to different degrees and different sorts of portfolios as well. What have you observed then in that space in regards to portfolio work in the context of career education?

Mike Joiner-Hill 25:09

And so I'd say with career education, you know, as career educators, we are increasingly becoming aware of the power of portfolios, particularly with helping students as they do pursue different internship or job opportunities, and we're doing our best to stay as up to date as possible on the latest and greatest technologies and trying to figure out what's the next step in the development of portfolios and what students or really any job seeker is able to communicate in that space.

Mike Joiner-Hill 25:09

I would encourage people - use portfolios to your advantage. It's an opportunity to exercise some sense of control over the narrative about you, when you're not in the room. While it can be a bit scary, it's also I'd say, let's look at it a different way, and it's really exciting. This is your opportunity to get out there and let folks know who you are, let them know what you care about, let them know that I'm someone who was looking to impact change in some sort of way. Or look, this is just what I'm interested in [laughs], and I want you all to know about that. This is what I'm going to bring to whatever team that I'm looking to join in the future. And so I'd say feel comfortable, feel confident in your ability to do so. It's going to be challenging in some ways. That's okay, though. Continue to work through it, continue to learn about yourself, learn about, you know, the options that are out there, both professionally, but also how can I go about communicating that I'm bringing immense value to whatever those opportunities might be? 

Kristina Hoeppner 26:35

And communicate also those transferable skills in order to make those connections then. Mike, what would you like to be able to do with portfolios that the technology or the thinking hasn't made it possible yet?

Mike Joiner-Hill 26:48

I have two answers to that. The first one is less about the technological capabilities and more about just what I think needs to be done to help portfolios continue to grow and to be seen as really important and useful tools. That is, I'd love it, if they could just be made much more accessible. I do think that part of what maybe scares some folks away is there is a technological knowledge that I feel like, you know, I need to have in order to be able to represent myself the way that I ultimately want to. Some of that is, you know, there's a comparison, right? I look online, and I see all these big brands, or whether it be an individual or an entity, and it's so polished, and everything looks so perfect. And I would have never thought to do this. How am I ever going to learn to do that when I also have school or have work or have family or whatever else that I have to attend to? How am I going to take the time and learn that and become that good? I do think that that can scare some people. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 27:45

I also just think that there are different populations, particularly BIPOC populations, where it can feel as if I do represent myself in a particular way online, it may mean that I get far fewer opportunities that I maybe qualify for. But because I've chosen to communicate, you know, my particular stance on something through my portfolio that may again, turn off a particular employer of interest. So that I say I understand that. And yet, that goes back to that original point. Maybe that just means that that wasn't the right opportunity for you anyway. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 28:16

I'd say that I wish that it could be a little bit more accessible. And we're trying our best at ILPL, right to do so. We are building relationships and partnerships with various identity based community centres on Stanford's campus to teach them the power of portfolios and how to really intentionally but also really confidently communicate where your personal and professional identities do intersect. So we're working to do that. We're also doing workshops, right, that are teaching people how to get started and how to just build something from scratch, which can be really intimidating. So that's one half of it. That's what I really wish I'm hoping for more accessibility for so many populations of folks. 

Mike Joiner-Hill 28:51

The other side of it which I wish technology can do I don't [laughs] I this probably won't happen, but maybe it will, I don't know. I'm looking at the future, and I'm imagining this situation where I can go to someone's portfolio and then there's like a hologram that will pop out.

Kristina Hoeppner 29:08


Mike Joiner-Hill 29:09

I mean, I'm really thinking about like that.

Kristina Hoeppner 29:11

That is really Star Wars level imagination [laughs].

Mike Joiner-Hill 29:15

I know [laughs]. I'm a Marvel fan, and I think about Iron Man, Tony Stark, he can touch on, you can click on something else, and something pops out and he can manipulate it that way and think oh my goodness, this is amazing. But what if my portfolio I had a similar capability, right? Let's say I am a student who was able to build some type of project and someone goes to my portfolio, they click on a, you know, a particular button 'See more' and all of a sudden a hologram pops out, and I'm able to actually walk them through the different components or whatever that project was or can walk them through the step by step process and they get a chance to actually see it right there in front of them. They're gonna reach out and try to touch it and nothing's gonna be there, but that's okay. That's fine [laughs]. It's cool. It's cool for them to be able to still like experience it that way, rather than just on, you know, a flat computer screen, so to speak. I don't know if that's going to happen in my lifetime, but it would be really cool to see if it does.

Kristina Hoeppner 30:09

Yeah, I'll see in a few years, and we'll compare notes to what happened to be able to do in that space [both laugh].

Mike Joiner-Hill 30:16

But anything is possible. We've gone from dial up internet, where America Online makes a ton of loud noises when you're trying to connect to the internet to now everything is, you know, in the palm of your hand, if you have a smartphone. So who knows what's possible?

Kristina Hoeppner 30:31

Thank you for sharing that and taking us to the future and really also making use of media in a really beneficial way to walk somebody through rather than just taking a video because they can stop and they can manipulate it. So that's really, really cool idea. Thank you, Mike.

Mike Joiner-Hill 30:45


Kristina Hoeppner 30:46

We are getting to the end of our interview already, and therefore - oh gosh, we could continue talking a bit and hopefully, we do get the chance at some point when there is the Bay Area portfolio meet-up again to have a longer conversation where you can then also share your ideas and see what other people think about them. Let's go to our quick answer round with the first question of which words do you use to describe portfolio work?

Mike Joiner-Hill 31:13

Yeah. This is fun. So the three words that I'd use to describe portfolio work, I'd say challenging, in a good way, but certainly challenging. I'd say that it's enlightening. So much of it is you learn about yourself, but as someone who is more so on the side of someone who is reviewing other people's work, I learn so much about people, I learn so much about the world, I see just how talented other folks are and how they're involved in so many really cool things that I otherwise wouldn't even know were out there. So I'd say enlightening. And then the other thing I would say is it's necessary work. We're reaching a point where again, these more static application materials are static ways of representing ourselves are no longer able to properly capture just how dynamic we are as people, and so having something like a portfolio that's able to do that and represent us online digitally when we're not present, I think it's something that's necessary.

Kristina Hoeppner 32:03

Thank you, Mike. What tip do you have for learning designers or instructors who create activities?

Mike Joiner-Hill 32:09

Yeah, I'd say break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. I think for so many folks who are just getting started with building out their portfolio, it seems as it's going to be this overwhelming, daunting task because they see the end products that have been sampled for them, and it's how am I ever going to get there. So if you're actually designing something for folks to be able to create your own portfolio, break it down for them. Take it one step at a time, and if you need to spend a little bit more time on one particular component, let's say your 'About me' section, right, and describe what are the three words that I'd like to use to tell my story, If you need to spend more time on that, spend more time on that, but break it down into much smaller, more manageable chunks and by the end you'll be able to see how things can fit together.

Kristina Hoeppner 32:48

What advice do you then have for portfolio authors?

Mike Joiner-Hill 32:51

I'd say it's okay to be a little afraid, but embrace that fear and don't let it stop you from continuing to represent yourself however you feel most comfortable and confident doing online.

Kristina Hoeppner 33:02

Thank you so much, Mike. That was really wonderful to get your view of portfolios from the career education perspective and career coach who has been doing that for a while, has been supporting student athletes, and also many other populations now that you've joined an actual portfolio lab and working with the students, give them more confidence in how they represent themselves, how much they want to share, and giving them some guidance on hand to be able to pursue the careers that they want to pursue.

Mike Joiner-Hill 33:34

This has been a really fun conversation. It's challenged me [laughs] to think back on my own work with portfolios both as someone who's kind of sort of created his own [laughs] but also someone who supports others in creating their. So this has been great. So I appreciate you having me. 

Kristina Hoeppner 33:47

Thank you, Mike. Now over to our listeners. What do you want to try in your own portfolio practice? This was 'Create. Share. Engage.' with Mike Joiner-Hill. Head to our website where you can find resources and the transcript for this episode. This podcast is produced by Catalyst IT, and I'm your host Kristina Hoeppner, Project Lead and Product Manager of the portfolio platform Mahara. Our next episode will air in two weeks. I hope you'll listen again and also tell a colleague about it so they can subscribe. Until then, create, share, and engage.

How did you get into career education?
When did you start using portfolios?
What do you do at the ILPL?
How much do I share in an employability portfolio?
What do employers think?
Who's coming to the ILPL?
Do you support staff in the ILPL?
Be bold
Observations about portfolios in the context of career education
What can't you yet fully do with portfolios?
Q&A: Three words / phrases to describe portfolio work
Q&A: A tip for educators
Q&A: A tip for portfolio authors