Debra Hasbrook, M.Ed.
Often while teaching a class on developing a portfolio there are questions about “Why is it necessary?” “What will I do with it?” “What if I change careers?” These are great questions.
All through your career you will attend workshops, take college courses, develop curriculum, and much more. You may or may not work for the same organization your whole career, and this accumulation of artifacts represents your experience and education.
A resume is often a one page snap shot of what you know and what you have done. Not only does your portfolio maintain a record of your career, you may be asked to produce any number of artifacts to prove your experience and education. If you do not collect, organize and maintain your portfolio certificates and other important information can be misplaced. Your career may span a several years and having this information in place reduces the possibility of lost artifacts.
I have collected and kept artifacts dating back to 1975. I have kept almost everything I have ever done, including experience and education in other fields. Why other fields? Because you have gained skills and knowledge from every paid and volunteer activity you have been engaged.
What is an artifact? I have collected transcripts, certificates, forms, meeting notes, pictures, examples of work from children, papers I have done, classes I have taught, letters of recommendation, awards, observations of my work, evaluations from students, letters from students or co-workers, brochures documentation of workshops or conferences I have presented, articles, book lists, news articles about me, any information that might document what I know, or what I have done. What you collect is your preference, my suggestion is collect everything.
I have tried several methods of maintaining my portfolio. I have used files, envelopes etc. I now use large binders with sheet protectors so I don’t damage my work. My next task is to put it all in an electronic format for safety and easy distribution; since much of the time employers ask you to upload documents on to their site.
You may find, as I did, that you are surprised at all you have done!
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