Media students at Santa Barbara City College have a new way to connect with prospective employers.
The college’s school of media arts has launched an online incubator for students. It draws on social networking concepts pioneered by MySpace and Facebook.
Employers can browse the students’ profiles and portfolios and contact those whose work they like. For their part, students can peruse jobs posted by employers.
The idea came from the ground up, said Meg Barbour, one of a group of current and former SBCC students who brought the idea to school administrators. In the past, employers would contact the school to inquire about potential hires, but it wasn’t a very efficient system.
“It was during the students’ break time, and it was hard to get in touch with the students,” Barbour said. “The thought was to create media portfolios where the students could have all their work online and employers could view it and contact students directly.”
SBCC designed the incubator as a prototype for a consortium of seven other colleges, six of them in the Tri-Counties. “We’re the lead college in media arts,” said Guy Smith, SBCC’s dean of education learning.
The school already has a database of more than 960 employers in the region.
“This is going to get pushed out to regional employers not only in media, but also in ancillary businesses – marketing, public relations, communications and publishing,” Smith said.
Initially, the incubator’s designers hope to make use of groups on existing social networking sites such as LinkedIn to drive traffic to the new offering.
“We’re using these groups as feeders to have employers come to the incubator site,” Barbour said. “Our database will grow substantially once we have the site up and running and have it seen by professionals in the area.”
Those professionals will be able to view video, images, PDF files and links uploaded by SBCC students. Like other social networking sites, the incubator will include a private messaging system for students to communicate with one another as they browse.
“That’s what we’re trying to encourage on the site – a lot of collaboration,” Barbour said. “If somebody is a film student and they need a poster created, they can see the work of the graphic design department and work with a student to do that.”
Barbour graduated from SBCC four years ago and took a job at a firm where she worked with clients such as MTV, PBS and the Sundance Channel before forming her own business, Barbour Creative. She said that from what she’s seen in the industry, students with high-quality work on the incubator stand a good chance of snagging a job.
“Locally, I think that right away there will be a lot of opportunities,” Barbour said. “Within the industry, there’s a lot of demand for talent in virtual worlds, television and film, graphics and design. It’s really dependent on the quality of work.”
And even though the incubator was created for employers who came looking for students, it should also help students understand what employers want, Barbour said.
“It’s a different world, from the academic world to the marketplace,” Barbour said. “We wanted to create this site to help students have resources – to learn more about promoting themselves, what jobs are available and what skill sets they need so they’re prepared.”