E-portfolios: A path to a productive future

Learn how to showcase your skills and experiences with an e-portfolio.

Looking for a way to show off what you can do in greater detail than on a resume? An e- portfolio might be the answer! E-portfolios allow individuals more opportunity to expand on their hobbies and interests, as well as accomplishments and abilities obtained from experiences. Whether these experiences are from your work or school settings, or even somewhere else, they can end up as just a bullet point on a resume. However, with an e-portfolio, you have an opportunity to showcase these items in greater detail and that could help set you apart or give you the edge in a job interview.

E-portfolios, also referred to career portfolios, have often been used in the past by artists and architects. Today, they are becoming more commonplace for other professionals as well: employers, admission officers and educational institutions. As a result, some high schools and colleges are recommending students develop and maintain a portfolio while attending their institution. For high school students or young adults, it will be highly beneficial to start recording and updating one’s career or e-portfolio now as they will gain a better grasp of what they have accomplished, what their strengths are and what they can offer an employer or a university as they move forward in the future.

What are the other benefits to developing and maintaining these personal databases or e-portfolios? Here are just a few:

  • It shows in detail what you have done and what you can do!
  • It will be an easy way to refer back during an interview. In addition, you can show examples regarding experiences or skills you have obtained.
  • It provides a collection of skills and accomplishment you can extract from to create a resume or application responses that best fit the job or school you are applying to.
  • It shows you have developed good habits of documenting and recording.
  • It will help you assess your progress and look for patterns in your career and work performance.

Although each portfolio will be unique, there various designs and layouts you can research on-line. However, the end result should reflect your personality and still look professional. Make sure to include items that set you apart or give you the edge in a job interview, including:

  • Evaluations from peers, supervisors, employers or teachers.
  • Awards, scholarships and nominations.
  • Transcripts, degrees, certificates and licenses.
  • Sample work. If you don’t have any from an actual work experience, consider showcasing something from school projects such as artwork, essays, videos and photos.
  • Thank you letters and letters of recommendation.
  • New articles or photos about you or your project(s).
  • Volunteer or community service experiences.
  • Extracurricular activities (plays, sports, events).
  • Classes or workshops you have attended.
  • Travel opportunities.
  • Hobbies and interests.

For example, if you have participated in a 4-H livestock project, your e-portfolio could list in detail the skills learned in the project, obstacles overcome, pictures and awards from your project or comments from buyers. If you participated in a 4-H volunteer or community service experience, you could document the knowledge you attained about other community groups and how it felt to help others.

Just like updating your status on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, it is important to log and update all the skills, experiences and accomplishments you have achieved in your life. These experiences have molded you and made you who you are today, so you want to show off what you have done and what you can do in the future.

For more information on how to develop meaningful experiences as a young person, contact your local 4-H program coordinator or visit the Michigan 4-H or Michigan State University Extension websites.

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