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Career Services - Students

The Portfolio

Page Index:

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a place where you store things related to your training, work experience, contributions, and special accomplishments. It is the place to document all your work-related talents and accomplishments so that you have a good sense of your "assets."

An effective portfolio is a visual representation of your experience, strengths, abilities, skills - the things you like to do, and do best.

There are wide variations in professional portfolios and in where and how they can be used. Here's a starter list of artifacts to consider. Begin you collection with whatever is relevant to you.

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What to Include in a Portfolio

  • Education

    • Transcripts (all)
    • Diplomas, certificates, CEUs, licenses
    • Course descriptions
    • Assessments, test results (e.g. GRE scores), appraisals (e.g. 180 or 360 feedback), grade reports
    • Awards, honors, honor society memberships
    • Internships, apprenticeships, special projects (e.g. senior capstone)
    • Writing samples
    • Workshops, seminars, conferences attended
    • Independent learning (things you've learned on your own, or taught yourself)
    • Certificates/evidence of special training (military, private institute, business, etc.)
  • Activities

    • Leadership positions held
    • Hobbies or Interests (time devoted to or photos)
    • Participation in team sports
    • Service project participation
    • Volunteer activities
    • Organizations joined (all)
    • Public speaking/presentations or performances
    • Awards
    • Travel
  • Work-Related Activities

    • Resume
    • Performance reports, appraisals (e.g. internship/student teaching evaluations)
    • Letter of nomination and/or recommendation
    • Accomplishments (could include newspaper clippings that detail your achievements)
    • Military training, citations (complete description of duties, activities)
    • Awards
    • Professional licenses
    • Publications, reports, published articles
    • Training materials
    • Samples of brochures, flyers made
    • Attendance records
    • Organization charts
    • Customer surveys
    • Documentation of accomplishments - increase in sales, decrease in claims
    • Computer-related items
    • Major projects completed/participated in
  • Personal Qualities or Strengths

    • Strengths (personal qualities that will help you contribute to an employer)
    • Teamwork and people skills, problem-solving, budgeting, planning and organization, time management, energy, discipline, motivation, persistence, responsibility, dependability, etc.
    • Contributing to your family (teaching, caring for siblings, cooking - all require planning, responsibility, dependability)
    • Helping your friends or working on extracurricular projects (may require teamwork, problem-solving skills, teaching skills, people skills)
    • Raising a family and /or running a household (requires budgeting, organization, time management skills, adaptability)
    • Keeping fit and healthy; being a member of a sports team (requires energy, discipline, motivation, persistence, teamwork)
    • Notice that few of the items on the list are actually physical objects. Others imply the existence of objects, and some are intangibles, like activities or personal qualities. You'll need to bring out the intangibles, by creating something to represent them visually, like a fact sheet or companion page, which compliments your resume. Having a visual representation of your accomplishment will give you an opportunity to talk about why you have included a particular item and what it represents in terms of your abilities.
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Collecting Portfolio Artifacts

It is usually best to collect portfolio artifacts while they are being created, but it is possible to create portfolio items that "represent" your past accomplishments after the occasion has passed.

1) At the time

(artifacts made on the job/during the volunteer activity, or hobby)

  • Reports or research summaries
  • Training packets
  • Graphics for annual report
  • Sales percentage increases
  • Handouts from training workshops
  • Customer survey results
  • Published articles
  • Attendance records
  • Computer printouts
  • Brochures, flyers

2) After the fact

(representations of artifacts made at the time)

  • Resume, certificates
  • Pie charts of sales, bar graphs of savings
  • Collage of travel experiences
  • Title page of report written
  • Photo of award or you accepting award
  • Symbol that represents your philosophy, with text description
  • Newspaper clipping describing event you contributed to
  • Photo of product you helped develop

Designing Your Portfolio

Keep in mind that your portfolio displays you to a reviewer; therefore it must present you in a professional manner. Don't skimp on your portfolio display system as "the book is often judged by the cover!" Buy the best quality cover that you can afford; you can use this tool for a very long time, not just for entry into graduate/professional school and/or your first professional employment. Acetate or plastic sleeves are a good way to display and protect materials.

Arrange your portfolio in much the same way you would organize your resume, showing in priority order your information that relates to the needs of your reviewer. A well-organized portfolio indicates that you are a serious candidate. You may choose to include a table of contents to help direct the reviewer. Plan to label and index materials, placing like materials together under a labeled tab so that you can turn to that section easily in the course of conversation with your reviewer.

Using Your Portfolio

Your portfolio will not speak for itself; you must explain it. Remember, your portfolio is a means, not an end! Don't make the mistake of relying on the portfolio to sell your skills to an interviewer. A good portfolio can be a big help, but in the end it's you, not the portfolio, that will need to prove your ability.

Always bring your portfolio to interviews. When the interviewer begins to ask questions about your resume, you can use your portfolio to support your responses. For example, an interviewer might say, "I see that you have worked at your school newspaper. What were your favorite assignments?" You might reply, "My favorite assignments include this article (turn portfolio towards the interviewer and show him/her the article in the portfolio) that required a lot of research and this creative writing piece (show article) that I wrote for a special edition."

During some interviews, you may not have the time to show your portfolio to the reviewer in detail. If possible, carry extra copies of pieces of which you are most proud (or those most relevant for that given interview) so you can offer them to the reviewer to examine. If you have a series of on-site interviews scheduled throughout the day with several representatives of the same employer, offer to leave your portfolio with the key person while, for instance, you go to lunch with several others who might become your peers. You could also offer to send copies of the materials to the reviewer as a follow-up to the interview.

If you do not get to share the contents of your portfolio at all during a particular interview, given whatever circumstances, you can still use your portfolio to prepare for an interview. Reviewing the contents of your portfolio before an interview should provide you with fresh examples that you can draw from during the course of your interview.

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The Education Portfolio

-From TeachNet.com

Whether you are a 20-year veteran or just starting out, a portfolio should be a key component of your teaching tools. Portfolios are a nearly universal requirement for the hiring process, but if you already have a secure job you should view a portfolio as your insurance against unforeseen district shake-ups. Keeping one of these self-promotion tools up-to-date also can be a good exercise in self-evaluation.

Think of a teaching portfolio as an expanded resume. A few personnel administrators will welcome a variety of formats, such as a box of notes, clippings, photos and objects. However the majority look for a standard 3-ring binder. Inside they will expect to find things that show a teacher's strengths, goals and achievements. This variety of items could include a resume, references, letters of recommendations, transcripts, education philosophy, classroom management theory, examples of lessons and photos of your classroom in action. It's not a scrapbook, but a representation of your teaching abilities.

Click here for much more information about the Education Portfolio and to learn about the 2010 Education School District Portfolio Survey!!

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The eRecruiting Portfolio

SU Career Services encourages students/alumni who have completed a degree from Salisbury University to establish an Experience Portfolio.

Click here for more information about the SU Experience Portfolio!

  • Experience Portfolio enables students and alumni to share a richer picture of themselves and gives them the ability to showcase academic work, activities and "soft" skills.

An Experience Portfolio may be used in applying to:

  • Graduate/professional school, scholarships, other academic programs, or work related positions in education, college teaching, library science, social work, health sciences, public history, public administration, city and regional planning, etc.
  • OnlineExperience Portfolios are a repository to store your documents such as resumes, reference letters, Praxis scores, student teaching evaluations and other documents often required by employers. You manage your own portfolio and send it wherever you choose.
Login for Experience Portfolio

Resource Links:

  • Click here for Instruction Sheet
  • Click here for freshmen/sophomore Information Sheet.
  • Click here for junior/senior Information Sheet.
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