When it comes to getting a job a resume is often the thing which decides if you will be put in the ‘nuh-uh’ pile or into the next stage. The same principal goes for your portfolio when participating in a summer camp job fair, or sending your resume out to camps where you’d like to work.
Putting together a portfolio is a time-consuming process. You have to find the right information to put in it to make your potential employers choose you over the hundreds of other applicants they’ve met, but not enough information that they’re reading your life story. So how do you draw the line? What do you need to create a killer portfolio which will impress?
All up I think I would have spent about 10-hours tracking down information and piecing it together in to something which looked semi-professional and that flowed. The truth is that it doesn’t need to be that hard. So here are 5 simple tips to take your portfolio from drab to rockin’ and camp fab!
Make it personal
It sounds silly but keep it personal. Include photos of you, your swim team, with your horse – something that lets the camp know who you are and what you’re like. But don’t go overboard! 3-5 photos are more than enough but if you’re feeling creative create a one page collage.
If a camp knows that you have an interest in jewellery making they may suggest you work with them as a jewellery making specialist, or if you play University level sport you could make the perfect counselor to teach it! Camps have such a wide range of activities that there is something for everyone – from totem pole carving to soccer, leather working to stained glass window making – show off the things you are best at and see where it may take you.
Keep it relevant
You may have all these super talents but don’t forget that you’re applying for a job to work with kids, so keep on topic.
Photos of you drinking alcohol or listing ‘beer pong’ as one of your favourite activities may help you get friends around campus but it will earn you no friends if your aim is to get employed, so leave it out of your portfolio.Remember to include any work you’ve done babysitting, nannying or any other type of work with kids – swim instructors, after school care attendants, student teaching at your dance school… the list is endless.
DON’T tell the story of your life
“…and this was me when I was three sitting on Santa’s lap. That year I wished for a magic castle, a easy bake oven…” Okay, that might be an extreme situation but cut the fat in your writing.
In most cases the people who will be reading your portfolio will either flick through it or skim read it. This means your creative use of words and humorous tales will be overlooked. Yes, all that time will be wasted.
Instead keep it short, sharp and shiny much like you would a resume. “You went to ‘bam’ school, you studied ‘boom’ subjects, you’re now working/studying at ‘insert here’ but like to babysit/snowboard/practice photography in your spare time.” This will mean that the person looking at your resume will be able to skim read and focus on key words to get the information they’re looking for and it will take you a lot less time to put together.
Include documents which will get you noticed
If you’re going through a camp company it may have already been suggested to you to include a reference, but here are my other recommendations.
Include certificates or certifications. This doesn’t mean to root through your dancing or swimming certificates from when you were 5 years-old (seriously, one girl had at the job fair I attended!) but think of what you’ve achieved in the last 3-years.
Are you a Scout and reached a certain level? What about receiving your St Johns First Aid training course? Perhaps you have reached a new grade in the music instrument you play? or finished a baking course as it’s a hobby? All this information may be relevant to the camp looking at employing you.
If you’ve previously worked with kids in any form I recommend you track down someone and ask for a reference. It doesn’t need to be long it just needs to say what you did and how well you did it. Camps love people who include references as it tells them if someone else trusts you with their children. If you have worked with kids previously see if the director or parent can write you a reference which you can include at the back of the portfolio. This is a great way for the camps to see that you are fantastic from another persons point of view.
Give them a way to contact you
I call it creating a ‘camp resume.’ Create a one page document that you can have multiple copies of which will be able to hand out to prospective employers.
On that one page put together the need to knows – name, age, contact, photo, experience which relate to the specialty you’re applying for and/or any childcare experience; Include a quote from your references about how fabulous you are, and if you feel comfortable doing so, the references email/phone number.
This way when you leave people who have expressed interest in working for them you will have something, almost a business card with more information, to leave with them in hope they will have the perfect job to suit you.
And that’s it. How simple was that? I also recommend you have extra copies of your ‘camp resume’ ready to give out.
Do you think I’ve missed anything? Perhaps you have some more suggestions for creating a rockin’ camp portfolio. Leave your suggestions below!
For more posts about summer camp or how to work as a camp counselor, click the picture below!