Every spring I teach a “Spanish for the Professions” course at the University of Chicago that is a special section of the final course in the second year sequence. Students are required to create a website and post some of their work there–a blog about Spanish-language content of interest to them as well as the major elements of a course-long research project on their professional area of interest in the region where they plan to live & work.
For first-year students who are not even one year out of high school, the project can be a stretch because it requires them to reach so far ahead into their careers. As the spring 2019 course was starting, I used the websites from the previous cohort as examples. The only first-year student from 2018 had continued to develop her website; it had evolved to meet her needs, which is exactly what I hope for–that it will serve a meaningful purpose beyond the course.
Just as I noticed all the updates to her page, that same student sent an email to let me know she’d been accepted to a program I’d written a letter of recommendation for–and she added this about her website:
“I believe I got my internship this summer as a result of my website. Creating the website has been very helpful in all of my applications. I took what I made for the class and continued to build on my research and portfolio. My internship is with a Jazz record label in Philadelphia which would like to expand their social justice work. After seeing the work on my website, they determined I was fit to intern with the team tasked with creating their social justice website.”
You can see her current website here.
For any language course, it is easy to assign “design of a website” as an early homework assignment, then have students feature some of their work from the course there: essays, compositions, video clips or written reflections from oral exams, cultural activities, etc. This gives students experience with website design, which can be an important distinguishing qualification. At the same time, it highlights their language skills and experiences and it gives them a concrete product with content focus that they can put on their resumes, write about in cover letters, or talk about in job interviews.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, interview preparation, and academic documents. She is the author of “Integrating Career Preparation into Language Courses” from Georgetown University Press. For help customizing your job application documents and navigating your career transition, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org