No Selfies! Free Photos Help Students Put Best Face Forward

Resume tips, job search tools and strategies, mock interviews and career counseling are among the staples Lawrence Career Services provides to assist students with their post-graduation plans.

But in this social media crazy, LinkedIn-driven global marketplace, the Lawrence Communications Office has launched a free service to further enhance students’ successful transition to “the real world”: free headshots.

Photographer Rachel Crowl works to capture senior Valerie Kessie at her best as part of a free student headshot service the Lawrence communications department has launched.

Forget the ubiquitous “selfie,” these are high-quality, appropriately lit, color-corrected photos designed to allow each student to present a professional appearance.

Open to all students, not just seniors, nearly 100 students have beaten a path to the second floor of Brokaw Hall and Rachel Crowl’s office/mini portrait studio for a personalized sitting since the photo service was launched in early March.

The free photo idea grew out of a presentation Crowl gave to the LinkedIn and social media module of the Career Services program, “Seniors: Support, Strategies and Success (S4).” Geared specifically toward seniors (it relaunches April 1), it focuses on the benefits of being visible on social media sites. Since one of the first things a viewer sees on any profile is a headshot, Crowl knew there was a need that she could easily fill.

“Who would have thought that a free headshot would make me feel smarter and ever ready for my life after college,” said Valerie Kessie, a senior from Accra, Ghana majoring in environmental studies and French.

“As a senior, I jumped on this opportunity to get my own photos taken and be able to present myself more professionally as I enter the workforce,” said Lisa Nikolau, a psychology and Spanish major from Milwaukee. “Having access to convenient and generous services like this reminds me that the faculty and staff are here to support and help me succeed after Lawrence.”

A necessity

For Lawrence’s conservatory of music students pursuing performance careers, the photo service has proven to be especially popular.

“As a performer, headshots are a necessity and are not cheap, either,” said senior Jon Stombres, a voice performance and choral/general music education major from St. Charles, Ill. “These photos were free and it was very gracious of Rachel to provide her talents to so many students. It’s nice to know that the staff and faculty at Lawrence are continuously thinking about the students beyond graduation and how to help us out in preparation for life beyond our undergraduate years.”

Rachel Crowl fine tunes each of the student headshots she shoots to provide them the best possible photo.

The service has even caught the attention of alumni who see its value from afar.

“Lawrence is providing one of the most important professional development services possible,” said Sam Golter, a 2013 Lawrence graduate currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Oregon. “The first thing most employers or admissions counselors do sometimes before they even look at the transcript or work history, is Google you. These photos say ‘I am someone who not only has a great education, but I take myself seriously and pay attention to my public image, please hire/accept me!’”

Mary Meany, dean of career services at Lawrence, says she is encouraged that so many students have taken advantage of having a professional head shot done.

“With future employers paying close attention to applicants’ social media presence, we are excited about this ‘perk’ that our students get — right here on campus —  free of charge,” said Meany, a 1983 Lawrence graduate. “It’s one less thing the students have to worry about as they prepare for life after Lawrence.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.