The University of Sydney Faculty of Science wants to help students prepare for a career in science, and have prepared helpful tips ranging from choosing a degree to building a portfolio. Our previous blogs about science degrees have discussed topics such as your career options, what employers look for, and how to highlight your science skills on your resume.
What’s a portfolio?
A portfolio is a way of documenting all aspects of your professional and personal growth as you progress through university and your career.
A portfolio isn’t the same as a resume—a resume is only a summary of your education, employment history and achievements, whereas your portfolio allows you to expand on these experiences and provide evidence of your achievement and science background. Your portfolio complements your CV.
Your portfolio can include
- descriptions of your activities and achievements (for example, descriptions of the research project you did last summer and the award you won in the state debating competition);
- your birth certificate;
- transcripts of your academic records (from uni and high school);
- written references from employers or colleagues (for example, from your employer when you worked for five years at a fast-food restaurant);
- official letters certificates (for example, a First Aid certificate);
- publications (for example, a scientist might keep a copy of her published journal papers); and
- examples of your work (for example, a writer might keep samples of good writing, a photographer might put in a series of favourite photographs).
Do I really need a portfolio?
If you want to make the task of applying for jobs easier, then yes!
When science students graduate, most are faced with the daunting task of applying for graduate jobs. These require extensive written applications that address a series of selection criteria. Most students do not begin to document their skills and achievements until the end of their degree by which time relevant achievements are forgotten and the evidence is lost.
Starting a portfolio at the beginning of your science degree will help you keep track of what you have achieved. It can also help you focus on your goals and how to attain them.
How do I construct a portfolio?
1. Collect records of your activities and achievements
Your portfolio is a collection of the different significant events in your life. It is a way to keep track of, display and remember clearly the activities and experiences that make you who you are.
But your portfolio is more than just a list of your life’s events; it should also remind you of why that event was important. One way to do this is to keep a written record of each event or activity, and make a note on that record what you learned, what skills you developed, what insight you gained.
Most students these days have access to a laptop or smartphone, which makes it even easier to keep a record of the skills you gain, as you gain them! For example, you could start a new, ongoing Note in your phone, and use it to record new skills you gain, so that when it comes time to applying for jobs, you’ve got an arsenal of skills on which to draw from. Much easier than having to reach back into your memory to remember what science skills you’ve gained over the years.
2. Reflect on your science skills
Once you have started recording your achievements and activities you can then identify skills you have not yet developed and areas where you think you need to improve. This will give you the opportunity to seek out activities that will develop these skills. A good way to reflect on your skills and tell whether you are on track to getting your dream job is to test your skills against a job advertisement.
3. Update your portfolio
Building a portfolio from a log or a list you have created will make it easier for you to write job applications and successfully address various selection criterions. You can tailor your portfolio to different job applications by emphasizing different skills.
Find out more about natural sciences at the University of Sydney—stay tuned for our follow-up blog about how to prepare for your job applications!
See our previous blogs:
- “Degree in science? University of Sydney outlines your career options”
- “Science degree? Find out what employers want in a science graduate”
- “Sydney shows how to highlight your science skills on your resume”
Find out how you can study science at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK for more information about science programs at Australian universities and about how OzTREKK can help you to study in Australia.