MSU Extension helps 4-H’ers prepare for their future

A new 4-H Exploration Days session on creating portfolios had positive impact on participants.

2017 4-H Exploration Days participants in the “Portfolios that Work – Are You Ready to Interview?” session.
2017 4-H Exploration Days participants in the “Portfolios that Work – Are You Ready to Interview?” session.

Do you have your resume, references and a portfolio ready to share? A small, but dedicated group of 4-H members participated in a new, full session at 4-H Exploration Days June 21-23, 2017. Held at Michigan State University’s main campus in East Lansing, Michigan, Exploration Days is an annual pre-college program.

Portfolios that Work – Are You Ready to Interview?” made its debut for five dedicated 4-H members, providing a total of nine hours of education in a supportive, positive learning environment. Our highly motivated group of participants represented Kent, Gratiot, Ingham, Huron and Monroe counties.

As part of the session, participants discovered what employers are looking for in resumes and portfolios. They created a resume, references page, learned about portfolios and created a short brochure that represented an abbreviated portfolio.

Participants left the session with the ability to communicate the life skills they gained through 4-H, work, school and volunteer experiences to potential employers, scholarship providers or colleges. They also increased their confidence and networking skills.

The session culminated the final morning with mock interviews with professionals, feedback about answering difficult questions and tips for how to make a positive first impression. Part of the success of “Portfolios that Work – Are You Ready to Interview?” was the combined expertise and energy of the nine staff members and volunteers that worked with the 4-H’ers over the three-day event.

In addition to 4-H Career Exploration and Workforce Preparation resources, we used lessons from the Michigan-authored national 4-H curriculum, “Build Your Future: Choices, Connections, Careers.” Lessons 1, 3 and 7 added to the participants’ understanding of their skills, contents of a portfolio and how to get started, along with the making of a resume and preparing for interviews.

Sixty percent of participants indicated they had increased their ability to identify life skills related to 4-H projects, activities and hobbies as a result of using the Build Your Future curriculum. One-hundred percent found the portfolio lesson to be very useful and all five participants created a short portfolio in the format of a personal brochure. Two of the participants had not created a resume prior to our session and 100 percent indicated they were more confident and prepared for a job interview.

Additional participant comments included:

  • “This program doesn’t need improving; it is very helpful as it is.”
  • “Keep this as a full session and keep the group size smaller/older.”
  • “Include time to revise resumes after peer reviews.”

When asked if what they learned would help them in the future, responses included:

  • “It will help me a lot in interviewing for a job, award or college.”
  • “It has better prepared me for job interviews.”
  • “It will help for my senior year portfolio, resume and exit interview for graduation.”

At this time, we plan to offer this session again next year. Watch the 4-H Exploration Days webpage for registration information, usually in March.

To learn more about the positive impact of MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Employment.”

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