During your graduate education you will complete numerous professional products as a result of practical and fieldwork in assessment, consultation, behavioural interventions, or other areas of professional development.  These will prove to be useful resources to have easily accessible and organized when you go on interviews for internship and your first school psychology position.  However, it is important to have these materials prepared in an easy-to-read and attractive format.  Think about gathering these materials ahead of time so they are ready when it is time to begin applying for an internship.

Many school psychology graduate programs require ongoing portfolio assessments or the submission of a professional portfolio as a graduation requirement.  Your graduate program is likely to have specific requirements for the content and organization of this portfolio (e.g., reports, practicum logs, comments or evaluations from field supervisors, personal statements, and research papers).  However, these portfolios are likely more comprehensive than is needed for internship or professional interviews.  If applicable, select a few exemplary pieces of work from this portfolio for your professional portfolio.

How should I organize my portfolio?

Depending on your professional orientation or career goals, you might choose to organize your portfolio differently.  Keep your audience in mind when completing your portfolio.  What information would an internship coordinator or director of psychological services find useful?  Some students choose to organize by a specific conceptual framework, whereas others use specific school psychological services as an organizational guide.  Regardless of the order or framework you choose for your portfolio, be sure that all materials are copy edited and free from spelling and grammar errors and typos.

What should I include in my portfolio?

Resume or Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

  • Highlight information relevant to school psychology and your graduate education.  Determine if it is useful to include all relevant professional information.
  • Decide on what order will best highlight your experiences: chronological or functional.
  • Clearly list identifying information including: name, address, phone numbers, and email address.
  • List your education, all the degrees that you have as well as the expected completion date for your current degree; some students include their GPA as well as titles or topics of independent research.
  • Include information about the field placements you have had, including type of experience, client populations, and skills practiced.
  • Professional work experience: What graduate or research assistantships have you held while in graduate school?  What professional experiences did you have prior to the beginning of graduate school?  Think about the skills that you want to highlight and the positions you have held to develop or showcase these skills.
  • Include any honours or awards that you have received, including fellowships.  This information will serve to set you apart from other applicants who likely have similar educational and fieldwork background.
  • List the professional organizations to which you belong.  If relevant include professional development experiences you attended, including national and local conventions.
  • Include any publications or presentations, if any, as well as their full titles, dates, and names of co-writers/presenters.
  • List any certification, licensure, accreditation you currently possess.
  • Mention any foreign language competency or other special skills.
  • Include a list of the individuals you have contacted for references at the end of your resume.

Sample Psychological Assessment Report(s): This should be a copy of an actual report that you submitted during a practicum assignment or field placement.  Choose a report that reflects a wide range of assessment skills and shows a clear link between referral question, assessment theory, and conclusions/recommendations.  This assessment report should abide by current NASP standards of practice and include sound data-based decision making.  Remove all identifying information about the child and school.

Sample Consultation/Intervention Report(s): These could include reports of consultation or intervention cases that you actually wrote for your school, if available, or written exclusively for your portfolio.  Remove all identifying information regarding the client, consultee, or school.  If relevant, include handouts or materials you created related to this case.

Other items to include: workshops you developed or implemented; representative samples of research/publications; materials you developed for interventions; graduate transcripts; samples of communications to stakeholders (i.e., newsletter articles, media communications, etc).  Be creative and highlight those activities and that work which represents you best.  If you are currently at the beginning of your training, think about additional ways that you might become involved in the field of school psychology that might set you apart from other applicants.

What are other issues I should think about in creating my portfolio?

Presentation: Be sure that your information is printed on a quality printer and is clearly legible.  Many students choose to print their resume or vita on high quality paper, whereas the remainder of items is printed on standard copy paper.  Depending on the size of your portfolio, you may decide to bind it in a plastic cover with tabs separating particular sections or types of items.  Be sure that it is organized in such a way that your interviewers can easily locate your work.

Consider creating electronic versions of your portfolio materials that will be easy to update, store, transport and post for potential employers.  The NASP Career Center currently allows NASP members to post their application materials online.

Get input from others: Contact students currently on internship or recent graduates of your program and ask to view their professional portfolio.  This will give you an idea of what to include in or how to organize a successful professional portfolio.  Have your portfolio reviewed by a faculty member familiar with your work and professional strengths to solicit their suggestions on improving your portfolio.

Choosing your best work: While it may be a natural tendency to include samples of all the work you have done, this is not a realistic option.  A potential employer is not likely to read through an overwhelming number of samples.  Therefore, it is important for you to go through your past work and pick a few items that represent not only best practice but also your best work.  Be sure that you review the specifics of the case(s) in case your interviewers ask for more information or explanations.

This fact sheet was developed as part of NASP’s graduate student outreach initiative by NASP graduate intern Andrea Cohn (University of Maryland), in collaboration with the NASP Student Development Workgroup and other NASP leaders.

Carl Thomas

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