Learning portfolios are a common component of most courses; they are of benefit to students in many ways, whether or not these are assessed or as a ‘hurdle requirement’.
In a similar way, career portfolios are of enormous benefit to students when it comes to applying for jobs and in advancing their careers. A career portfolio is a dynamic collection of materials or artefacts which provides evidence of skills, capabilities and personal qualities. It can also assist with future career planning and decision-making when used to assess strengths and weaknesses.
The following table highlights the differences in the two portfolios:
|Academic or Learning Portfolio||Career or Professional Portfolio|
|Aim:||Get good grades||Get hired|
|Parameters:||Meet stipulated word/time etc. requirements||Minimal words/time, maximum impact|
|Show:||All the stages of development for maximum marks||The information that will have the greatest impact|
|Demonstrate:||How well you met the course (and sometimes professional accreditation) requirements)||How much value you will add to the workplace|
|Focus on:||Set outcomes, good reading, writing and technical skills||Soft skills, personal qualities, capabilities to manage yourself well in a range of situations|
|Artefacts drawn from:||What you did while at university||Everything you have done including jobs, community service, etc.|
|Individual artefacts highlight:||Comprehensive understanding of a set subject or topic||Short, succinct examples that suit a number of situations and that you can talk about in greater detail if required|
Career or Professional Portfolios
Assisting your students to develop a career portfolio can be of help in their transition to the workplace. The act of preparing and curating a career portfolio is a valuable exercise in itself, because while gathering information they are thinking about their own set of unique offerings in preparation for writing applications and attending interviews. This also assists in your teaching activities, especially those related to work integrated learning. In the preparation, storage and presentation of artefacts, students are providing people in industry the opportunity to see that RMIT students are truly ready for work. Employers will also see that RMIT programs provide students with the skills, capabilities and attributes that are sought after in the workplace.
Career portfolios are a combination of:
- job-application documents (which include a current resume or CV, cover letter, responses to behavioural questions, and perhaps skills lists and networking lists),
- relevant coursework artefacts (these may include assignments, class project reports, models, images, audio and video files, and screen shots of web pages),
- reports and other work resulting from workplace learning (for example, cadetships, internships, vacation work and mentoring activities), and
- artefacts from a range of other sources, including part-time and voluntary work, sport activities, community endeavours and leadership roles.
Methods of storing career portfolios include paper, Google site, 3-D, multimedia and social-media (Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter) based technologies.
Career portfolios are dynamic and changing; items should be added and deleted as they achieve higher levels of learning and the pool of items to choose from improves. Students should be encouraged to present their portfolios in a professional way, and to present them in class as practise, so that these can be refined and polished before they meet with employers.
Career portfolios are also a way to collating different assessments into one activity that can be worked on in different stages over a semester or over an entire program.
Career Portfolio Platforms and Examples
Google sites: Example: https://sites.google.com/a/g.clemson.edu/kprivetportfolio/
LinkedIn: Using LinkedIn Teaching Tool
Linking Learning Portfolio to career development learning
Learning portfolios are incorporated into many programs across RMIT. Generally these are used to evidence and assess student achievement against learning outcomes within a single course or an entire program. Sometimes learning portfolios are linked to the requirements for professional registration by accrediting bodies.
By expanding the learning portfolio to include a career development learning focus you are providing students with the opportunity to:
- Reflect on how learning links to career goals
- Document their skills, knowledge and experience in the language of the labour market (eg applications, interviews, networking)
- Integrate learning from various personal, professional and academic environments to help build and maintain their professional identity
- Build lifelong career management skills
There are a variety of ways that learning portfolios can be expanded to incorporate career development learning:
- Have students reflect on and curate the content of the learning portfolio to create a separate career portfolio (link to section on career portfolio)
- Expand an existing portfolio to incorporate career focussed content eg (Use the example from Medical Imaging where part of their learning portfolio requires them to reflect on their placement to develop and refine their professional resume and have it reviewed by their workplace supervisor)
- Use the content of an existing learning portfolio as the basis for career development learning activities (eg resume writing, writing KSC, developing a Linkedin profile)