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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Creating a Digital Portfolio

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Recently I’ve received several emails from readers asking about how I created my online portfolio. While in graduate school, I was assigned to make a portfolio for my intro to school counseling course. The idea was that once we had this binder we could add things as we moved through the program and we could use it during our job hunt. This is exactly what I did, but then I decided I wanted to showcase my knowledge and ability to use technology, hence the online portfolio.

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I spent a lot of time researching and planning prior to creating my online portfolio. I looked at many different sites that would support my portfolio and ultimately decided to use Weebly. Weebly is super user friendly. They have a beautiful, clean site that is easy to navigate. They use drag and drop features so it really is easy to build a website. You can see how it works on this youtube video! You can also check out this step-by-step tutorial presented on Weebly’s own website. I also liked weebly because of the data tracker that allows me to see how many unique visitors came to my site. In case you are wondering – I am in no way affiliated with Weebly. I’ve just been really pleased with the site and customer support. There are other great portfolio sites out there, but I picked Weebly because it worked the best for me.

Once you decide which platform you are going to use then its time to create your portfolio! One of the first things you will be asked to do is create a name for your portfolio that is included in the url. I opted for my name so that my url was straightforward and simple to potential employers. You will also be asked to select a template. Templates have a lot of variety. I picked one that I could add my own personality to while also looking professional. Once you have done those two things then its time to add the content!

In my opinion these are the top things to include in a portfolio:

-Resume

-Professional Statement or Philosophy

-Sample Lesson Plan

As I built my own portfolio I looked at many other prospective and working school counselors’ online portfolios. I found ideas I liked, such as a 1 page sheet on how my work aligns with the ASCA model, and realized what formats I found pleasing to the eye. I encourage you to look at other people’s portfolios in and outside of the realm of counseling to get ideas about what might work for you.

With that said, please do not copy other people’s work, mine included. One reader did exactly what I am suggesting above, she looked at a variety of portfolios to see what she liked and to get ideas for her own. Through her search she found several portfolios that used my counseling approach, either parts of it or the statement in its entirety. When I received her email my stomach sank and turned upside down. I was hurt and disappointed by a few of my fellow school counselors. I encourage you to look for inspiration but remember, there is a difference between being inspired and plagiarism.

 

Some questions to consider as you build your own online professional portfolio:

What is the main idea I am trying to address on this page? Is it clear to the reader? As I built my weebly I found myself constantly editing. I wanted to make sure I was not wasting space or trying to put too much information in once place. I wanted my main idea to be clear and easy to find or understand.

Are there things on my portfolio that I find distracting? As I looked at other portfolios I discovered that I had a preference about side bars, something I had never considered before. I found them to be very distracting so I created a site that does not have side bars. Going back to the first question – I thought they took away from the main idea. Is there anything on your site that could be distracting to the reader?

Is this helping my job prospects? This seems like an obvious question but really think about it. If you are building an online professional portfolio to land a job ask yourself if its helping you land a job? Is it helping you get an interview? If there is information or documents that are not helping you then don’t include it.

Is the content putting my best self forward? Have you edited your portfolio? Just as typos are frowned upon on resumes and cover letters, make sure that your portfolio is making a good first impression too! Your portfolio acts as an extension of your resume. It is okay to let your personality to shine through but also make sure its professional and highlighting your strengths.

If you checked out Weebly and aren’t sure it is for you, here are a couple of articles that mention other online platforms, as well as helpful tips:

5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios by Free Technology for Teachers

Creating a Teaching Portfolio Online by Teach.com

Do I Need a Digital Teaching Portfolio by Edutopia

The Counseling Geek has a great resource for building your online portfolio too.

 

What platform did you chose for your digital portfolio? What are your must haves for your portfolio?

Thanks for stopping by!
THOUGHTS