E4 Youth’s First Year With Bulb

Any creative professional will tell you that you that when it comes to getting hired, you live and die by your body of work. While solid references, a stacked resume and polished soft skills inarguably help you get your foot in the door during any interview process, the commercial arts industry in particular stresses the importance of an impressive and professionally assembled portfolio in setting you apart from the competition. “Your resume says a lot about what you can do, but a portfolio is a much more tactile representation of your talents. It’s one thing to just mention all the projects you’ve worked on in bullet points, but being able to curate your past accomplishments in a cohesive portfolio not only demonstrates the breadth and variety of your skills, but also your growth and development as a creative,” said E4 Youth founder Carl Settles.

 With that in mind, students in our enrichment programs throughout Austin have been creating their own digital portfolios as part of E4’s newly implemented Employability Curriculum. These portfolios are hosted on bulb, an education-focused portfolio service developed by brothers and Colorado State graduates John and David Runkles. Since bulb’s first trial run in Austin’s Eanes ISD back in 2014, the app has been implemented in several secondary education programs across the nation with great success. In 2017, bulb was named as a finalist for the annual Bett awards, one of the highest accolades in creative education and a showcase of creativity and innovation in the field of educational technology.

E4 alum and Creative College Mentor Alex Sifuentez (left) heads up Pflugerville High School’s Get Creative club.

With bulb’s simple and intuitive UI, professional and highly customizable design, and collaborative features perfect for educational settings, the service is perfect for any student looking to take their first steps toward a career in any creative industry. Partnering with bulb’s Austin offices was a no-brainer, and E4’s first experience with bulb throughout the 2016 school year was overwhelmingly positive.

“When students first start getting involved with E4, they all come into the program with different levels of experience as content producers. Some of them have already had YouTube channels or blogs so they’re used to promoting their work, and others have barely shared their creative projects beyond turning them in as assignments at school,” notes E4 Creative College Mentor Alex Sifuentez. “One of my favorite things about bulb is that using it helps students regardless of where they are on that spectrum. If you’re just starting to take an inventory of your skills and you’re not sure what projects you want to showcase, developing a portfolio on bulb can help you identify what you’re already good at as well as what parts of your skillset you need to focus on as you continue to work on new projects. On the other hand, if you’ve already got a lot of content out there and you have a good feel for what your interests are, bulb’s still a great way to collect and curate your projects in a cohesive package. It’s a really great exercise in professionalism that isn’t typically covered in your average public school curriculum.” Sifuentez heads up the Get Creative club at Pflugerville High School along with A/V Journalism teacher David Robb. We interviewed some of their students about their experience working with bulb.

E4 Education Director Humberto Perez introduces bulb to Pflugerville students at the club’s first meeting.

“If anyone wants to know who you are or what’s significant about you, your portfolio is exactly that. It shows all of the creative works you’ve compiled over time across different mediums. If you just put all your photos on Facebook and all your music on Soundcloud, for example, when potential employers or collaborators are trying to look you up, it’s not only harder to find all of your content, but it’s harder to get a sense of who you are as an artist. When you have all your work in one place, your audience has a more complete understanding of the kind of creator you are and what you’re like to work with,” said Santiago Dent, sophomore. “If someone sees my portfolio, they would see someone who is really passionate about what they do, and someone who takes the time needed to put out quality work, especially in music and fashion,” he added. Santiago was named Student of the Year for E4’s Pflugerville Get Creative Club for his passionate involvement in club activities and an equally stellar portfolio.

“bulb is really simple to work with. I’m used to Twitter and Facebook so bulb’s page layout with the banner and headshot seemed very familiar to me. It’s easy to design a portfolio that looks professional but still says a lot about your personality and your talents,” said Khue Tran, junior. Khue’s bulb showcases her skills as a writer and her growing passion for photography and video production. Along with nine other E4 students from Pflugerville, Khue’s excellent portfolio and mastery of E4’s employability curriculum earned her a badge for SXSW 2017, where she had the opportunity to network with other young creatives and industry professionals.

Pflugerville Senior John Ortiz’s bulb showcases his aspirations as a film student.

“Once you get a feel for organizing your work in collections and pages, bulb is super straightforward and streamlined. I like that it gives you the opportunity to describe everything you include in your portfolio, because a lot of times when people see visual content on Instagram or YouTube, they won’t even bother to read the captions or descriptions. With bulb you can clearly outline the message behind your personal projects as well explain how you contributed to the work if it was a group effort,” said John Ortiz, senior. “The asset library is really helpful if you use bulb as an archive for your work, but you can also embed videos hosted on other sites in your portfolio, which is useful if a lot of your stuff is on YouTube or Vimeo.” John’s portfolio illustrates his aspirations as a film student and catalogues his background in A/V production and photography.

E4’s first full year with bulb has been nothing but successful. At the E4 Youth Awards on May 11th, students across all of E4’s programs had the opportunity to present their bulbs and latest creative projects to an audience that included some of Austin’s top creative agencies, including GSD&M, Sanders Wingo, McGarrah Jessee, and Sherry Matthews. “We’re very fortunate to be partnered with bulb,” said E4’s Education Director, Humberto Perez. “They really seem to understand what E4 is working towards, and having the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of such a cool platform has been awesome for our students.”

[This article was included in Bulb’s weekly newsletter among other features highlighting the efforts of our many talented students. Check it out!]

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