In my book, Check It Off! I offer information on college life for the first-year college student. One item on the list that is easy for the college student to do, yet often overlooked, is to create a collection of important information throughout the college years. I call this collection: your portfolio.
First-year students should begin compiling information that will benefit them as they go through college. This information will come in very handy as you, the college student, apply for internships, job opportunities, graduate school, etc. You get the picture. As a college student, you should not go into an interview empty-handed. And, the best way to present yourself is through your portfolio.
A portfolio is a great way to show off your best work to a potential employer. Whether you are seeking a part-time job, full-time position, or internship; presenting a portfolio at the time of the interview separates you from the other candidates applying for the same position.
To start, obtain a three-ring binder or create a directory on your computer. Create the following folders:
- Job packet,
- Letters of recommendation,
- Work examples, and
- Award certificates.
During your time in college, you will be adding documents to the various sections of the binder or folders. The idea is to continually save and update the information in the folders to create an impressive portfolio to take with you when needed.
The essentials of a job packet consist of a cover letter, resume, and work references. As you begin to obtain part-time jobs, ask for a personal reference about your work performance. As you begin to obtain additional jobs, continue to seek those references.
Letters of Recommendation:
As you move through college, start collecting letters of recommendation. Ask professors, school advisors, career counselors, etc. for a letter of recommendation. Place this information into your folder.
Another reason to create a portfolio is to give meaning to the work completed in college. As you go through college, professors will ask you to write papers, prepare presentations, construct diagrams or charts, and complete computer assignments using software packages such as Excel and Word. When you receive an excellent grade on a paper or presentation that you prepared in college, save this work in your folder.
Employers like to see that you can write well and speak well. Showing a potential employer that you prepared and gave excellent presentations shows a lot about your work and you! Showing a well written paper to a potential employer speaks louder than just “stating” that you can write well. You have examples with you to prove you can write well!
There are so many opportunities for students to obtain and win an award. Invest some time in researching the opportunities available at your college or university. Once you find a task that might interest you, plan to apply. If you failed to obtain the award the first time, you learned a lot about the process. So, dust yourself off and try again. The more you apply for various awards, the better chance you have to obtain an award.
Looking at college as a forum to create and collect information that shows your individual talents, sheds a new light on completing courses. The question you should always ask yourself is “How can I use this course to my advantage? Can I write a great paper, give a stunning presentation, or show my computer talents.” When you look at a college course through a different lens, not only is college more interesting, but you are adding value to your interviewing process by creating a meaningful portfolio.
For more information about seeking employment and networking, refer to the book Check It Off! Pave Your Way Through College to Career by Vera Teller, Ph.D. or email me.