Career portfolios and 4-H projects – What’s the connection?

Connecting career portfolios with 4-H Projects supports National 4-H and Career Technical Education goals while fostering life skills.

An organized sample of documents and work accomplishments compiled over time equals the contents of a portfolio. Although it is sometimes creatively put together, a portfolio is not a scrapbook. A career portfolio is a communication tool commonly reviewed by prospective employers to get a visual representation of one’s skills, knowledge, abilities and potential in a specific professional area. It is a concise, thought-out presentation that showcases one’s talents over time in relation to a career that can include, but are not limitd to marketing, photography or veterinary medicine.

According to the Center for Career Development, the contents of a career portfolio traditionally include a typed letter of introduction, a typed resume, three letters of recommendation, three samples of one’s work, an official high school (and/or college) transcript and copies of one’s personal interests and achievements. Personally, I have kept a career portfolio for more than 20 years that I continue to tweak and use as needed, adding new samples as appropriate.

In 4-H, the thought process and task that one goes through to create a career portfolio supports the communication portion of our National 4-H Global Leadership Competency. Moreover it enhances and fosters the 4-H life skills related to working (marketable skills and self-motivation), managing (planning/organizing) and thinking (decision making).

Furthermore, when 4-H staff and volunteers work with young people to record, document and start to put the pieces together for a career portfolio, we support the National Career and Technical Education Essential Elements and Standards from the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEC).  These elements call for students tomaintain a career portfolio to document knowledge, skills and experience in a career field, and to select educational and work history highlights to include in a career portfolio.

All of those 4-H project and record books, project photographs, awards and scholarship applications we encourage 4-H’ers to complete do have a grander purpose.

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