The Spirited School Counselor

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Creating a Career Portfolio for Interviews

Creating a Career Porfolio

Every so often on twitter and facebook I see people ask about creating a portfolio, whether its a hard copy or a digital one. There was a lot of discussion in May about digital portfolios. You can see my post about how to create a digital portfolio here. With interview season I have seen a lot more questions about creating a hard copy of one that you physically carry into interviews.

While in graduate school we had to create portfolio in my intro to school counseling class. I decided to use a large binder with the intentions of filling it as I went through graduate school, which I am glad I did. I now use this as a storage area for a lot of my documentation. When I interview (which I am hoping I am done doing for a while) I take a much smaller portfolio with me.

I use a smaller portfolio binder for several reason:

  1. Realistically, a 3-inch binder full of documents is not going to help me land a job because who is going to want to (or have time to) look through everything at an interview.
  2. A smaller .5 inch binder makes me pick and choose what may help me show the interviews why I am the best choice for the position.
  3. It is just easier and more comfortable to carry.

Point 2 is the most important! It makes me narrow down what to include. Typically I have my interview portfolio broken down into 5 sections (although this may change as I have more experience out of graduate school):

  1. Professional Experience
    Items like my resume, first aid and CPR cards (required for licensure in my state), license or letter of eligibility from my state’s department of education, references, and letters of recommendation are included here. I have extra copies of my resume and reference list on resume paper, in the side pocket, to distribute when I arrive at the interview.
  2. Counseling Approach
    My school counseling philosophy, counseling personal statement, and one page summary of how my experience and the ASCA model align are found in this section.
  3. Professional Development
    I have presented at my state-level counseling conference a few times. In this section I include those presentations.
  4. Lesson Plans & GRIPS
    This section includes lesson plans that are age-specific and position specific. For example, if I am interviewing at an elementary school then I include a classroom lesson for 2 different ages as well as a group lesosn. I also include any examples of using datat to drive my school counseling program. I have a school-wide needs assessment, a group flier for a group that was formed as a result of the needs assessment, and a GRIP to show the results of that group. These items may not be for the age-level that the interview is for but it shows I know how to collect, analyze, and use data appropriately. I also included a parent night powerpoint and a newsletter I create to show how I try to reach the families of the schools I work within.
  5. Coursework
    I included my transcripts here just in case they were needed, for whatever reason. I will likely remove this portion now that I have my provisional license. When I created my portofolio I only had my letter of eligibility and wanted another way to document my education. With that said, I dont think this section is needed. I cant imagine a situation while being interviewed that I would need to show my transcripts.


There is also discussion on social medio about HOW to use a portfolio. I realized quickly that I was just carrying my binder into interviews and never opening it. It took practice at home for me to feel comfortable referencing it. When preparing for an interview I look up school counseling interview questions (ASCA‘s, UMT, Longwood,  Tucson District, Fordham, and the Counseling Geek all offer possible questions)  and practice, practice, practice WITH my portfolio.

For example, if I was practicing this question: Have you implemented any components of the ASCA National Model for School Counseling? I would answer it, while referencing my ASCA alignment sheet in my portfolio. This sheet would help support my answer while also being a visual reminder of things that I have done that align wiht the ASCA National Model.

Another example would be if asked: How do you use data in a school counseling program? I would practice answering the question while referencing different pieces of evidence in my portfolio that use data, such as a GRIP or needs assessment.

It is important to reference your portfolio rather than just pass it around. This is partly due to it being difficult to listen to what you are saying while also reading all the good things you have included in your portfolio. It is also because you want to draw attention to the pieces in your portfolio when they have an opportunity to make you shine!

Scrapbook of a School Counselor  and Dr. Carolyn Berger both have a suggested list of items to include in your portfolio. I also have an entire pinterest board dedicated to portfolios and the job search that you are welcome to check out.

What do you make sure to include in your portfolio? As an intervewer what are your feelings on portfolios?

Thanks for stopping by!




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Free SAT Resources

NYC (1)I received an exciting email this afternoon from Khan Academy. Khan Academy offers instructional materials, videos, and opportunities to practice materials learned for free through their website. They have information on a variety of subjects ranging from math and science to art history and computer programming… and a special section for the AP Art History test too!

The Khan Academy has partnered with college board to offer FREE SAT & PSAT practice materials including 4 full-length practice tests, quizzes, and interactive practice & feedback. They also have a great video explaining the difference between the current SAT and the new one that begins in March of 2016.

Thanks for stopping by!


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How to Prepare for Landing a School Counseling Job After Internship

How toThis time last year I was freaking out about finding a job post graduation. There are things you can do to prepare for the job fairs, job applications, and interviews. Here are my top 3 suggestions:

1. Get Organized. Think about the items you will need for all of these job finding events – a resume, cover letters, letters of recommendations/references and a portfolio. Get these as close to finished as you can. It will make filling out those applications easier if you are organized. It will help you prepare for an interview (you may not have as much time as you would like to prepare so get ready now). It also ensures that you are giving your references enough time to write you a stellar letter of recommendation.

2. Expand Your Horizons. Depending on your location, school counseling jobs can be far and few between. This is why I suggest you try to expand your horizons. Perhaps you are completely set on elementary school but there isn’t a position open. Consider applying for middle or high school if you license allows you to do so. You may be surprised to find out that you actually love working with that age group. Another option is to expand where you are looking. Perhaps you have a radius of 1 hour. Expand it to 2. This increases your chances of an interview and ultimately a job. I realize that not everyone has the ability to do this but if you can – do it.

3. Think. Think about what you think administrators are looking for in a school counselor. This isn’t something I had thought too much about until I went to my first job fair/applicant screening interview. The interviewer asked me about how I have collected data, used my findings, and then evaluated what I did. This caught me off guard; however, if I had thought about what an administrator wanted in a school counselor it probably wouldn’t have. It is equally important for you to really think about what you want in a school. What are you looking for from the administration, the school population, and what you hope your school counseling program will look like. Thinking these things through will help you prepare questions to ask during and at the end of an interview. Remember an interview is a time for you to learn about the school that you could be working in too.

Bonus: Take care of yourself during this time. Its stressful. You are finishing your program with graduation on the horizon. Interning. Job hunting. Potentially moving. There are lots of changes in your future – great changes that hopefully you will be thrilled with BUT even great changes can be stressful. Self care is important now and it is important once you are a professional school counselor.


Good luck on your search and thanks for stopping by!