Student Dossiers and Letters of Recommendation

In light of my recent post on letters of recommendation, I have been giving some thought recently to the idea of undergraduate student dossiers or portfolios.

I wonder how many students create a portfolio of exams and papers that they have written during their four-year college experience? These dossiers could also include materials related to student internships, study abroad experiences, and other creative or academic work.

Not only would such a dossier help a student on the job market, but it would allow folks like me to write stronger letters of recommendation. I am always looking for opportunities to sing the praises of a student paper or project, but sometimes my memory fails me.

I know that the folks in career service departments encourage students to build these kinds of portfolios, but shouldn’t this also be something done by individual academic departments? It seems that students should be encouraged to do this in the first advising appointment of their freshman year.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Student Dossiers and Letters of Recommendation

  1. Janet: I think I am with you on this. I am not sure how important the portfolio is for history majors. I honestly don't know, but it does seem that we are beginning to move in this direction.

    I could imagine that a portfolio would definitely help a history major applying for jobs in certain fields.

    From the professor's point of view, a portfolio would be IMMENSELY helpful in writing letter of references and receommending students for jobs.

    Thanks for reading and posting.


  2. I've heard things both ways on the portfolio. I've had some people tell me it's very important and also had one supervisor tell me she never hires someone who comes in with a portfolio because it's something only “new professionals” have. I think it really depends on your field.

    However, I do think that you absolutely need to assemble one if only for yourself. Mine has been most helpful when I am preparing for a job interview and want to quickly see what my “highlights” are. I don't have to rack my brain to remember what I actually concluded in that essay or the name of that newsletter I produced for the job 2 years ago. I use my portfolio when writing cover letters as well.


  3. I am completely convinced that my portfolio is what landed me my first job out of college. My portfolio included a comprehensive sampling of both my academic work and two internship experiences. It made it look like I had far more experience than I did and gave my soon-to-be boss the confidence to take a chance on the young girl from Lock Haven University!


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