The word Create on a cork boardRegardless of how smart we are or how hard we work, it’s often a challenge to get others to see the value we can add through a short essay or a brief interview. While most students are focused on boosting their GPA’s and choosing the best extra-curricular activities, it would benefit them to create and continuously develop strong student portfolios. We often think of portfolios for professionals and artists, but they are key features in any successful student’s backpack. From high school to the boardroom, a strong portfolio can open doors and provide a winning advantage.

Features of a Strong Portfolio

1) Student Résumé – The cornerstone of a strong portfolio is a well put together résumé. Educational history and accomplishments, work and volunteer experiences, and references should all be included in a student résumé. Think of the résumé as a summary of unique achievements and experiences that help you stand out. This is also a great place to provide a short personal statement or objective that gives insight into your direction for the future.

2) Letters of Recommendation – Well crafted letters on your behalf show that people are vouching for your skills and your work. Recommendation letters also help perspective employers and admissions officers get a glimpse of how you relate to people and key strengths that you possess. The key is to have them personalized and shine a different light on some of your best character traits.

3) Notable Projects & Assignments – Not every assignment you received an “A” on belongs in your portfolio. This space should be designated for work that you have completed that has relevance and significance to the position or opportunity for which you are applying. Suppose you don’t have school work or previous assignments that relate, you can create content or projects to display your skills.

4) Certifications & Clearances – These documents will be specific to the opportunity you are seeking. Sometimes certifications and clearances are required and it’s best to show that you have them on hand. Even if they are not required, the thought and preparation that you put into your portfolio will leave a lasting impression.

5) Honors, Awards, & Press – Every portfolio should have a section that says, “I’m so Awesome!” Pull together notable awards, honors you may have received, and articles about yourself that made the school paper, local press and other outlets. If you have any photographs of yourself in action, with community leaders, or helping at a charity event, include them, as well.

The goal of a portfolio is to highlight your value, skills and strengths so that you are seen as an asset to any school, organization, or business. A great portfolio will show that you are proactive and diligent and other people feel the same way about you.