What is a Career Portfolio?
- A reflection of your education and career preparation
- A collection of evidence of your accomplishments
- A demonstration of your knowledge, skills and talents
- A self-marketing tool for scholarships, graduate school and jobs
- A negotiation tool for salaries and pay raises
Portfolios help you to analyze your UNCG experiences so you can describe them. Seniors often wish that they had spent time sooner identifying their skills, interests and accomplishments so they could be better prepared. A portfolio also helps you strategically organize a history of your skills and accomplishments, and allows you to think carefully about what experiences and accomplishments might be important to employers.
Portfolios facilitate your preparation of a Personal Statement for Graduate School. Juniors and Seniors often express their uncertainty and frustration in writing about themselves. A portfolio helps to refresh your memory about activities and experiences which will prepare you to describe them in a personal statement.
Portfolios prepare you with the mindset and foundation for developing your Resume and Cover Letters. Using a portfolio can make it much easier to identify relevant information for composing these two documents.
Portfolios enable you to articulate your experiences more explicitly in a Job Interview Recruiters have consistently reported that students need to be better prepared to describe their academic and non-academic experiences in relation to jobs. As the most effective interviewing technique, "Behavioral Interviewing" requires a job candidate to provide 'evidence' of specific competencies by clearly describing experiences which demonstrate them.
Portfolios prepare you for a "Competency-Based" World of Work. Employers report a need for applicants and employees to have an increased awareness of the competencies that they bring and the competencies that they wish to gain in return. A portfolio demonstrates that you've done your homework and understand characteristics and competencies employers are seeking, and how well you match up with the job requirements.
- Copies of college transcripts
- Lists of certificates, awards, honors, licenses and special training
- Letters of nomination for honors, awards, and academic organizations
- Letters of recommendation and thank you letters from advisors, professors, and employers
- Evidence of creative projects, writing samples, presentations, technical drawings, artistic pieces. MOVED UP
- Evidence of involvement in campus, community and professional organizations
- Anything to support the scope of your written and verbal communication abilities, such as technical writing, and outlines of presentations.
- Photos of you in action - teaching, training, leading a group, participating in volunteer work, etc.
- Evidence of computer skills; list special software programs and your levels of proficiency; include samples created from the various programs
- Information to show foreign language proficiency and/or international study/work experience
- Documentation of activities, achievements, etc., demonstrating that you know how to communicate well, are adaptable, work as part of a team, and are a self-manager
- Documentation of volunteer or community service
- Documentation or results from graduate school or professional testing (GRE or LSAT scores).
- Copies of professional licensure or certification, and any special licenses (anything from social work technician certification to a chauffeur's license).
- List student organizations related to your field of study and social groups, and the special projects, teamwork activities, and leadership positions you held.
- Future teachers can specifically include sample lesson plans, videotapes of you teaching, learning packets you created for students, statement of teaching philosophy, notes from and pictures
- Communication skills
- Computer/technical aptitudes
- Leadership abilities
- Ability to work in a team
- Interpersonal skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Problem solving skills
- Social Responsibility
- Put items in a 3-ring binder or professional case
- Use sheet protectors
- Use copies (keep a master copy of all items)
- Use index tabs and/or title pages to divide each section
- Keep it to a manageable size
- Avoid page numbers to make it easier to add and move items around
- Use consistent headings and placement of work samples
- Make sure it looks professional - clean, neat, organized and error free
It is not necessary to take your entire portfolio with you to an interview. Instead, bring only the sections of your portfolio that include the attributes you want the employer to notice. This "mini-portfolio" can be compiled and presented in a smaller binder in place of your complete portfolio. Alternately, you may rearrange your portfolio putting the items you want the interviewer to see at the front. You can also distribute a digital version of your portfolio on a CD or include a direct web link on your cover letter or resume.
Generally, an employer will ask if you have any questions. In addition to the questions you may already have formulated, this is an excellent time to ask if they want to see your portfolio. You may find that there is a shortage of time to show them personally, so be prepared to leave a copy (never the originals) of your work for a day or two for them to review your samples. This does three positive things:
- It shows that you respect their time
- Your name is at the top of their "to-do" list
- Provides you with an excellent opening to return to meet with them again
Keep in mind that in some interview situations referring to your portfolio may be inappropriate due to time constraints or other factors.
Keep it clean, neat and organized. Make sure your portfolio is neat, well-organized and professional-looking. Make sure you are showing some of the process you go through in order to arrive at solutions. Invest in a quality portfolio case - don't just throw some examples of your work in a cheap binder. Organize your samples according to style, subject, skill, etc. Type labels and mount items straight.
Be consistent. Be consistent with how you organize your portfolio as well as overall appearance.
Be unique. Keep in mind that everyone's portfolio is different. It should be as unique as you are.
Document it. Remember, you may not be around to explain what your samples are about. Design a portfolio to stand on its own as much as possible. Include descriptions of your purpose and approach.
Don't overdo it. The only thing worse than a skimpy portfolio is one that has too much in it. Choose quality over quantity, include a variety of work and, if possible, show work which is relevant to the job. You should probably not have more than a total of 12 samples.
Make a copy. If you are involved in an intense, everyday job search, prepare two copies of your portfolio - one for leaving behind and one to carry with you for shorter interviews.
Label it. This may seem obvious, but you won't believe how many portfolios are misplaced or lost. Neatly include your name, address and telephone number on the outside of your portfolio.
Focus on job-specific content. Adjust and tailor your portfolio to the job for which you are applying. Think about the best way to describe your experiences in order to interest, relate to and influence the people you are going to meet. Develop ways to describe the samples you select to show them with the same purposes in mind. They want to know what it is about your work and experiences that are relevant to their needs.
Be prepared to discuss everything you include. What special challenges did it represent? What do you consider the limitations of your work? What areas could be improved? Why did you do it this way instead of some other way? While an employer is reviewing your portfolio, wait patiently to give him or her time to absorb it, but be prepared to discuss it in depth. On the other hand, do not rely solely on your portfolio during an interview - it is not necessary to lead the employer through every page.
Seek input from others. Take advantage of the expertise of everyone you know to improve the quality of your portfolio. Get feedback from faculty members who have professional experience with the field in which you're applying. You can also make an appointment with a career counselor (334-5454) to discuss your portfolio.
Ask interviewers for feedback. Even if you don't get a job, you may get invaluable suggestions if you convince employers that you are honestly seeking to improve your work and will not react defensively to criticism. If you do significantly improve your portfolio as the result of an employer's suggestion, show it again to him or her. Your seriousness about improving your work and your ability to do so are some of the most important assets you can offer and will help open opportunities to you.
Remember your portfolio is never done. It grows and evolves as you do.
Update your portfolio as often as possible. It is just as important to have an up-to-date portfolio as it is to have an updated resume.
Take pride in your portfolio! Be enthusiastic about the work in your portfolio or no one else will be.