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What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a compilation of materials that exemplifies your beliefs, skills, qualifications, education, training, and experiences. It provides insight into your personality and work ethic. All in all, it is a representation of your professionalism.

Why should I have a portfolio?

The process of putting together a portfolio itself will help you become a more effective interviewee. You will be identifying the skills you have gained through your various experiences and how they relate to the career you are interested in. Choosing the most relevant experiences and putting them in an easily understood format will help you better articulate your skills and experiences when asked questions about your qualifications in an interview. A professional looking portfolio will also show an employer proof of your organizational, communication, and tangible career related skills.

What should be included in my portfolio?

Save everything you create and decide later what you want to include in your portfolio! Please remember that there is not one perfect way to do a portfolio. A portfolio is a sample of your career related skills and experiences and should be presented in your own creative style. The following information is, however, what is typically included in a career portfolio:

  1. Statement of Originality: A paragraph stating that this is your work and that it is confidential. It should also indicate if any parts of the portfolio should not be copied. Note: Pay attention to confidentiality- Materials generated on the job are usually the property of the company you were working for at the time you created the material. When you display or show that material, be sure to recognize the owner. If you have signed a confidentiality agreement with a company, you should not include their work in your portfolio. (Williams and Hall, 2001, p. 57)

    Example: Statement of Originality and Confidentiality

    This portfolio is the work of James Cook. Please do not copy without permission. Some of the exhibits, work samples, and/or service samples are the proprietary property of the organization whose name appears on the document. Each has granted permission for this product to be used as a demonstration of my work. (Williams and Hall, 2001, p. 91)
     
  2. Work Philosophy: A brief description of your beliefs about yourself and the industry.
     
  3. Career Goals: Your professional goals for the next five years.
     
  4. Resume: (See handout on Resume Writing)
     
  5. SkillAreas: Identify three to five of the major skill set areas you have that would be important for someone in your career field to have. Examples include: Management, Computer Skills, Public Relations, Leadership, Accounting, Communications, and Customer Service. Next, select or request letters of recommendation and specific work samples or projects that exemplify these skill sets. Sources of work samples include classroom projects, materials generated on the job or during an internship/co-op experience, materials from community service, volunteer work, campus clubs and organizations, and professional memberships.

    How to select the best work samples

    Ask yourself the following questions about each sample:

    What will this work demonstrate-skills, competencies, or achievement of goals?
  • Is this my best work?
  • Does it show mastery?
  • Am I proud of this sample…all or part of it? (Williams and Hall, 2001, p. 56)

Also, ask yourself. . .

  • Which skills is the organization looking for in this position?
  • What is your best work?
  • Which samples show the most skills and competencies?
  • Which work samples are the most interesting to you?
  • Which work samples use more than text as an exhibit? Do any include pictures?
  • Can you talk about your sample? (Williams and Hall, 2001, p.88)

Works in Progress: List career related projects or activities you are currently working on that would add to your list of skills and qualifications for that career field.

Certifications, Diplomas, Degrees, or Awards: Include copies of these documents and any documentation listing the skills attained for certification.

Community Services: Briefly explain the project or include a brochure explaining the organization or project. Include any work samples, photographs of the experience, and letters of recognition which prove your participation and/or involvement.

Professional Memberships and Certifications: Include any documentation of proof. Also, include information on any conferences or meetings you have attended that have provided you with educational resources in your field of interest.

Academic Plan of Study: You can include a copy of your transcript which includes the classes you have taken and grades you have earned in those classes, as well as a listing of those classes you plan to take upon graduation.

Faculty and Employer Biographies: This is not essential to include. However, it is helpful if you have mentioned someone throughout the portfolio frequently that has had a significant impact on your professional development. For this section you would list the person’s name, who they are, and what they do.

References: A list of three to five people who can verify your professional qualifications. Recommendations of professional references include faculty members, internship supervisors, employment supervisors, and supervisors of other activities such as community service projects (see sample in Resume and Cover Letter Writing packet).

How should I present my professional portfolio?

  • 3-ring Notebook (cloth, vinyl, or leather)
  • Table of Contents
  • If clarification of a particular section is needed, write a brief description of what is included in that section and why you have chosen to include it in your portfolio. Place the overview at the beginning of that section.
  • Use extra-wide 3 ring tabs with labels to separate each section so you can easily find the information during an interview situation.
  • Use copies of everything to put in your portfolio and save your originals.
  • Use a high quality paper (24#) as well as a high quality printer.
  • Use colored paper to draw attention to special samples, but use a soft, subtle color and only use a total of three different colors.
  • Put all pages in page protectors using front and back sides (do not use three hole punch).
  • Place three extra copies of your resume and list of references in a protective sleeve to hand out during your interview.

The information provided on this page was taken from the following source:

Williams, A.G., & Hall, K. J. (2001). Creating your career portfolio: At a glance guide for students (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. 

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