Career tools for youth: creating a portfolio

Teach young people how to build a successful career tool with the help of a curriculum that explores the components of a portfolio.

Merriam-Webster defines a portfolio as “a selection of a student’s work…compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance and progress.”  Portfolios are also used in the world of work as a tool to communicate your knowledge and skills to a potential employer. The process of putting together a portfolio enhances several life skills such as boosting self-esteem, decision-making, planning, organizing and marketing.

Lesson 3 of the National 4-H Build Your Future: Choices…Connections…Careers curriculum introduces young people to the differences between a career and an employability portfolio. It then focuses on helping youth identify what to put in a portfolio. Portfolios commonly contain contact information, a resume and references. Additional documents chosen to put into a portfolio are usually categorized into three areas:

  • Academic skills
  • Personal management skills
  • Teamwork skills

Documents that exhibit academic skills may include:

  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Academic tests or course work, like projects or papers that show you excelled or applied yourself
  • Honor Roll listing or the Dean’s List
  • Award letter for an academic-based scholarship or extra learning opportunity
  • Outstanding 4-H projects that may have won recognition for the mastery of skills learned

Personal management skills give an employer an idea about your ability to be a reliable and dependable employee. Example documents include:

  • High school transcript showing your attendance record
  • Attendance certificate
  • 4-H club attendance record
  • For those with a job, internship or volunteer experience, performance review results or letter of reference that indicates you come to work consistently and on time

Teamwork documents are an indication of your current and potential social skills, communication skills, leadership ability, as well as your interest in working with others. Examples of teamwork include:

  • Certificates of achievement, leadership and participation from extra-curricular activities
  • Photos of you running a 4-H club meeting or participating in a community service project
  • Accomplishments from team sports or 4-H events such as quiz bowl or demonstrations
  • Youth group or civic group involvement
  • Recognition of volunteer involvement

With important documents such as these, a portfolio is an important piece of preparing for the job hunt and your future career. The new national 4-H curriculum Build Your Future: Choices… Connections… Careers; provides tools and resources for volunteers to teach young people about portfolios. Volunteers can find a variety of other useful resources through the career preparation section of the Michigan 4-H website.

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