Life-Work Portfolio Course


What is the Life-Work Portfolio Class?

The University of Virginia asked 500 businesses what they were looking for in employees for entry-level jobs requiring less than a four-year college degree. They identified 13 workplace readiness skills that became the basis for the career and technical education curricula for all Virginia schools. These skills included a mixture of “hard” or academic abilities and “soft” or life skill abilities. The Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Class is designed to specifically address six of the critical success skills that employers are looking for:

  • Speaking (How well do you communicate with spoken language?)
  • Problem-Solving Skills (How good are you are at solving problems?)
  • Self-Presentation Skills (Do you know how to get a job?)
  • Work Ethic (Do you know how “work” works and how to keep a job?)
  • A Positive Attitude (How resilient are you in the face of conflict?)
  • Independence and Initiative (Can you set and manage your own goals?)

Who is it for?

The Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Course is designed for upper high school students who are or should be beginning to get serious about post-high school plans. It is also appropriate for post high school youth looking to refine the success skills of adult life-work.

How does it work?

The Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Course is designed to help youth develop a personal “brand” which defines and clarifies how they want to be seen by the world and what kind of image they want to present. They also develop a set of practical tools for success in the adult world, including life-work plans, professional resumes, personal presentation portfolios, and refined personal presentation skills (their ability to present themselves professionally).

  • The Life-Work Plan is a personal plan for transitioning into the adult world of work and independence. It is based on what a young person wants to do with his or her life.
  • The Personal Presentation Portfolio is a tool for documenting and sharing what it is that makes a youth special and unique. It will include a professional portrait, a resume, letters of recommendation, honors, awards, and certificates, and evidence of talents, gifts and abilities.
  • A Personal Brand is a youth’s conscious choice of how he or she wants to be perceived by employers and peers. Youth also practice interviewing skills and learn the secrets of what they need to know to interview for and get the jobs they want.

What teens usually want to know: How is this going to help me?

In order to get somewhere you need four things:

  • a vision of where you are going;
  • a plan for getting there;
  • the motivation and determination to continue in the face of challenges and setbacks; and
  • a support network.

Most people (and not just teens but, sometimes adults as well) don’t really know or lose touch with who they are or what they want out of life. Even if they think they know what they want, it often does not fit who they really are. And if you don’t know what you want or what you want doesn’t fit you, how are you going to get someplace that brings you real success, happiness, and independence?

Where most career planning begins with the question, what kind of job do you think you want, we think that is backwards. The core of this course begins with is helping you learn about you:

  • Your Interests (what attracts your attention and curiosity),
  • Your Passions (what do you love to do),
  • Your Talents (what do you naturally do well),
  • Your Skills (what have you learned to do well),
  • Your Values (what matters most to you—what you believe in),

When you take that information and align it with your personality and your life experiences you have a unique and potentially attractive brand—one that people will want to hire and help. Based on your brand and your aspirations, we create help you create a Life-Work Plan that has a good chance of helping you find the success, happiness, and independence you want.

Next, based on the personal brand you are promoting, we build a portfolio of samples and evidence of your interests, passions, talents, skills, and values. You will use this to help present yourself to others and to help you continually refine your Life-Work Plan. And did we mention that the course is designed to be fun, honest, real, and “not boring?” I mean after all, if it’s all about you, how could that be boring?

An added benefit of completing this class is our Connections Fund. Sometimes youth in transition need financial or material support to help them stabilize and pursue education or vocational training. As a Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Course graduate, teens can apply for grants for short-term aid for housing and education.

Hosting a Class/Group

We provide this program to schools, human services agencies, departments of juvenile justice, Redevelopment and housing authorities, churches, and non-profit agencies serving at-risk populations. This is usually a 10-hour program spread out over 5 sessions (but we can customize it to better match the needs of your population). The program is portable and we can bring it to you. This program works best with small groups of 10-20 youth at a time. If you have youth to refer to this program or would like to host a course at your site, contact us by clicking on the contact button below.

Learn more about hosting a Life-work portfolio Class