Category Archives: portfolio

7 Things Any High School Student Needs to Effectively Compete

There is a great deal of advice when it comes to students preparing to compete in the global economy. Showcasing your abilities properly has now become more complex – and more critical. For example, a resume is a strategic tool designed to give you the edge over other applicants (for summer jobs, internships, and eventually that first job after school). When you use a Google search for resume writing, you receive 12.7 million hits. For most students, thinking about writing a strong resume is a “just-in-time” exercise. For many seniors in high school, that [strong resume] train has already left the station.But regardless of where the student is in their journey, it is never too late to start.

A resume reflects what has been. Students that have a desire to be competitive a few years from now need to be thinking about how they want their resume to look starting in their freshman year of high school. A resume matters when applying to colleges, especially the more academically elite colleges. A resume matters when you try for the internship that 500 other students are going for and there is only one position available. A resume matters when you are about to graduate from college and are trying to get interviews with the better employers. But the strength of the content of that resume starts with the beginning of secondary education – or earlier.

It only makes sense that the better employers are looking for the better students. GPA is only one measure and it may not be the main one.

News bulletin: Your grades aren’t the beginning and end to creating opportunities.
When writing resumes, a strong GPA is a great attention grabber but it is only a beginning. According to Heather R. Huhman, a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies, many of today’s job seekers tend to forget to include the things they’re passionate about or experiences they’ve gained outside of their academic accomplishments.

For many students, thinking beyond next weekend can be challenging. The reality is many students find themselves scrambling about their second year of college because they don’t have many things to list on their resume. Getting through school is the minimum you are expected to do. It is all the other things you do – or don’t do – that will determine your competitiveness – and the quality of your future opportunities.

So you have a 4.0 and you are in the top 5% of your high school graduating class ranking. With nothing else to add, you will likely not have as many options when it comes to college application acceptances, internships and ultimately those “first job” offers upon graduation from college. A strong GPA is valuable but it isn’t any where nearly as valuable as a high GPA and several extracurricular achievements.

Freshman in high school have the best opportunity for setting the stage for having a “totally awesome” resume that will pay big dividends to stakeholders of “You Inc.”. And by the way, you (the student) are the majority stockholder in You, Inc.

So here are 7 things you can do in high school (besides getting good grades and participating in extracurricular school programs – which you need to do as well):

1. Build a professional website, blog or online portfolio.

Online PortfoliosOne of the things that seems to impress employers when they research candidates is whether the individual has a professional website or blog. In the online information portal called Student Resource Central, an entire category is dedicated to Social Media and Online Portfolios. The top 14 online tools are listed –  some you might be aware of, and some so cool you must use them.

If you’ve created a professional website to showcase your knowledge, passions, expertise and accomplishments, you should definitely include a link to your website or portfolio in your future resume. Starting in high school and adding to it each year will set you apart from the competition.

2. Social media accounts.

Facebook Find Us LogoYour social media presence is another important element. When using social media, be mindful of what you showcase. Ideally, keep your social media clean of controversial language, political views and immature content. Start thinking like a professional. Assume anyone considering you for college admission, internships or job opportunities will find your content.

3. Entrepreneurial Freelance projects.

Employers value entrepreneurial experiences. Use any freelance opportunities to help you shine. One high school student turned a photography hobby into a revenue producing part time job. According to a survey of Generation Y workers (those ages 18-29), the third-most common college major for that group is “entrepreneurial studies,” and there are now 2,364 post-secondary institutions offering entrepreneurship and small business programs. Even if these students don’t become an entrepreneur, chances are they may go on to get a job with a young, venture-backed company or work for an established corporation that places high value (higher starting salaries) for entrepreneurial behaviors.

Showcase your freelance experience in your resume. Keep track of your accomplishments and people/organizations you’ve worked with.

4. Awards or special recognition.

BSA Eagle Scout BadgeGirl Scouts Gold AwardHave you received special recognition for being an outstanding contributor? You are in control of this more than you may think. Look for intentional ways to be recognized through your volunteer work, such as tutoring younger students, or through structured programs such as achieving the rank of Eagle scout in the Boy Scouts of America or the Gold Award in the Girl Scouts or by acts of service in your church or community. Plan to graduate with honors in high school and college. You will want to include these accomplishments and awards in your resume.

5. Certifications.

Project Management CertificationJob seekers who have certifications in a specific tool or skill or knowledge area can definitely benefit from including those items in their resume. Very few students see this one. A friend of mine helped his daughter study for and pass several certification exams, normally designed for professionals, before she entered college. Many certifications require some kind of experience or completion of a related project as evidence of applicable knowledge. You don’t have to be employed in a traditional job to meet these requirements. Search out the opportunity or ask those adults in your network for support. An industry-specific or career-specific certification will definitely help you stand out.

6. Side projects.

Girl Scouts project for Gold AwardSimilar to freelance work, side projects are a type of structured work that has timelines and outcomes. But they may not be tied to revenue. Volunteer work or helping your parents in the family business can be very powerful. For Eagle Scouts or Gold Award recipients, a project is required to receive the award. Be sure to include these projects, not just the award. Look for ways to claim significant accomplishments in your personal life and definitely include them on your resume.

7. Volunteer work.

student volunteersLook for opportunities to volunteer. Through school, many clubs or honors programs require volunteer work. Try volunteering every Saturday at a local food bank for the summer Are you into a particular sport? See if you can be an assistant coach on a youth recreation league (and get certified to be a youth coach while you’re at it). Look for unpaid internships too.  Volunteer experiences such as these can help you make a very strong impression on admission counselors or employers. Volunteer work also shows employers you have leadership and project management skills.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm serving Fortune 100 company clients. As creator and master trainer of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that works.  Self-directed assessment and career exploration coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.

Congrats College Grads! Are You Using LinkedIn for Your Job Search?

LinkedIn for College StudentsThree Ways Recent Grads Can Leverage LinkedIn for Long-Term Success by John Hill, LinkedIn June 6, 2013

You have your new degree in hand and your future at the forefront, so now what? Whether you’ve landed a job or are still weighing your options, LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool for your next steps post-graduation. We’ve pulled together three simple things you can do now to successfully transition from campus to career.

Take Charge of Your Professional Identity
Your LinkedIn profile makes it possible for opportunities to find you. It is a virtual billboard that communicates to current, potential and future employers, and colleagues 24 hours a day. That said, a complete profile doesn’t mean just replicating your resume. Here are a few steps to take to create a standout profile:

  • Use the Summary section on your LinkedIn profile to tell people who you are professionally and who you want to be professionally
  • Make your profile your portfolio. Upload documents, videos and images to your LinkedIn profile to showcase your successes throughout your education. Share a presentation you gave in your business class, a video you produced for your film class, or an architectural drawing you are particularly proud of.
  • Add Student Sections to capture your experiences in and out of the classroom like projects, honors and awards
  • Define your Skills and Expertise
  • Follow the Companies, Influencers and Groups that relate to the industries you’re interested in

Remember, a great profile not only ensures you are putting your best foot forward, it also makes it possible for recruiters and great opportunities to find you!

Create A Network Based on Quality Contacts, Not Quantity
LinkedIn is where business takes place, so your connections should reflect who you are as a future professional and be made up of trusted relationships. Here are four affiliations you should focus on while growing and maintaining your network:

  1. Friends and family
  2. University connections
  3. People you shared work experience with
  4. Those who you share volunteer and causes with (including student groups and fraternal organizations)

Connecting with the great people you meet along the way will enable you to build a community of experts that will support you throughout your career. Need more ideas for who to connect with? Get some help along the way from People You May Know.

Dream Big
LinkedIn showcases the successes of your school’s alumni through features like the Alumni tool. You can see how someone went from the classrooms you attended to become CEO. Or, find people who graduated from your university who now work in the industries and companies you’re interested in joining. Once you have identified and connected with them, consider reaching out and setting up an informational interview. LinkedIn can be a directory of dreams, showing you where you can go and what you can do based on the success of others with similar professional pathways.

Good luck!

For information about career direction and job search coaching, check out Success Discoveries’ Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads. Assessment and coaching packages start at $349 – special Summer 2013 offer.

Student Resource Central 10x more useful than ConnectEDU, Naviance, Kuder, Career Cruisin or XAP

The Career Coaching for Students™ program has so much to it. Independent career coaches, high school counselors and college career center counselors are finding the assessments and strategies creating significant breakthroughs. We call this disruptive technology.

This article focuses on one part of the program that other programs minimize. Student Resources Central™ offers students and parents access to the best resources on the web. From career research, choosing a major, choosing a school, financial aid, scholarship research, college admissions and application process to the latest in resume portfolios, this portal to the vast unlimited resources on the web has it all. The website sprinkles advice throughout. The organizational layout enables the user to go exactly where they need to within two clicks.        SRC Welcome Page

Below are screen shots of the main tabs. Each main tab has subtabs that offer carefully selected resources. Click on the screenshot to see a larger view to read the subtabs.

Criteria for a resource to be included in Student Resource Central:

Quality of information. Including the source, we don’t think it helps you to receive bad, biased, out-dated or partial information.

Agenda-free. The recommended resources are not operating a marketing data collection site that will use your personal information to market their sponsors.

Ease-of-use. There are plenty of web information pages. Just do a simple search on one topic and you’ll find millions of pages. Which are really worthy of your time? How much time will you have to spend shuffling through hundreds of pages before you get to the right pages of information? With SRC, you’ll quickly find your way through any webpage we direct you to.

Several great take-action recommendations

Several great take-action recommendations


Career Coaching for Students extensive library of worksheets, videos, and more

Career Coaching for Students extensive library of worksheets, videos, and more

The most extensive Career Research portal on the web - and easy to use

The most extensive Career Research portal on the web – and easy to use – including several extensive career video libraries.

Education Research that gives you what you need - like college freshman retention rates and graduation rates

Education Research that gives you what you need – like college freshman retention rates and graduation rates

Straight scoop, how to and information with integrity is what the Financial Aid and Scholarship resources are about. Most scholarship websites are nothing more than marketing websites. Not at SRC.

Straight scoop, how to and information with integrity is what the Financial Aid and Scholarship resources are about. Most scholarship websites are nothing more than marketing websites. Not at SRC.

Writing a resume and developing interview skills are just the beginning. So much for you to leverage including career advice videos.

Writing a resume and developing interview skills are just the beginning. So much for you to leverage including career advice videos.

Using social networking sites is key to career research, getting inside information about colleges and universities, finding internships and landing the first job out of college. The latest in using Portfolios is reviewed with a list of free cloud-based portfolio apps.

Using social networking sites is key to career research, getting inside information about colleges and universities, finding internships and landing the first job out of college. The latest in using Portfolios is reviewed with a list of free cloud-based portfolio apps.

If all of that isn’t enough, Student Resource Central is including the Life Skills for Students™ program too – for the one price.

The good news is that if you’ve purchased the Home Study Personal Edition of Career Coaching for Students or engage one of the licensed facilitators for a one-on-one service or workshop in your area, you receive Student Resource Central automatically. Purchasing the full package is the best way to go.

However, if you don’t want to buy the entire Career Coaching for Students program and receive the cool assessments and student binder, Student Resource Central is available, for a limited time, at a ridiculously cheap rate. The same rate applies for families or teachers wanting to use the resources for an entire class.

After comparing to other offerings, it becomes obvious that those other programs are trying to do the minimum while maximizing profits. Student Resource Central – well – is just simple, common sense that everyone can benefit from.


E-Portfolios – The New Resume for Students?

The traditional resume is far from dead. You’ll need that for most internship or job applications. But many colleges and employers are wanting a more insightful (and creative) view of your talents – even if you aren’t in a creative major or profession. And you will want to stand out from the crowd.

e-portfolio by CarbonmadeCreative professionals need a repository of work that shows engagement and abilities. This need to showcase creative work was the first application for e-portfolios. Whether you are focused on a creative profession such as photography or trying to stand out competitively as a business major, an e-portfolio is quickly becoming a popular and effective tool. Creativity is an asset valued greatly by any employer in any industry.

A portfolio is a collection of work developed across varied contexts over time.
The electronic format allows faculty and employers to evaluate student and applicants using technology, which may include the Internet, video, animation or audio. Electronic portfolios are becoming a popular alternative to traditional paper-based portfolios because they offer practitioners and peers the opportunity to review, communicate and assess portfolios in an asynchronous manner.

For college students, an ePortfolio is a collection of a student’s work in electronic format. You should include a welcome/introduction to your ePortfolio. This is the first virtual impression that people will have of you, so make it a great one! You may even want to include a video welcome where you explain the organization of your ePortfolio and direct the viewer through the site. Your ePortfolio may contain all or some of the following:

  1. Supporting files of various formats (text, pictures, video, etc.)
  2. Evaluations, analysis and recommendations
  3. Evidence of General Education competencies
  4. Writing samples (which might include several drafts to show development and improvement)
  5. Projects prepared for class or extracurricular activities
  6. Evidence of creativity and performance
  7. Evidence of extracurricular activities, including examples of leadership

Employers are starting to look at the portfolio as a means of assessing the total talent of an individual.

Since we now live in the internet age where anyone can access anything anytime, it is imperative that you have an online portfolio. The only real problem is figuring out where to put your work – there are so many online portfolio tools and communities, it can be challenging to determine which one will work best for you. Many e-portfolio solutions are offered at no cost. Below are just a few that have different strengths.

Online Portfolio Strategy

Online portfolios are an easy way for potential employers to view your work samples.

The Internet makes it easier than ever to share your work samples. Include your portfolio’s web address on all job search communication. If you participate in online networking, add a link to your online portfolio. This will make it easier for your network to recommend your work to others.

Organize your work samples thoughtfully as you would with paper portfolios, but take advantage of the Internet’s ability to link pages with one another.

Research your technical options carefully. Free services allow you to get up and running quickly with limited design skills, but may come with some disadvantages:

  • They may restrict how many files you can upload as well as the type AND size of the files.
  • They may allow limited customization.
  • They may insert ads on your pages. (This is how some can offer it for free.)

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Which you choose will depend on your needs, time, budget, and web skills. Carefully compare features to determine which one meets your needs.


Free or subscription-based portfolios tend to allow larger and a wider range of file types. These files are uploaded directly to the host site. There are a variety of free portfolio options. Most are geared toward presenting graphic elements rather than text. These are ideal if you need to showcase work visually.

Check these out to find the best fit for your needs:

Whatever your discipline or career direction, you can rest assured that there is an online portfolio tool specific to your niche waiting for you to create your very own portfolio and help you market and sell your talent.

Carl Nielson is the creator of Career Coaching for Students and Student Resource Central, the most comprehensive one-stop resource for career exploration, major and education institution research and leading thought for students in high school and college.