Career Portfolio

Sarah R. Hall, College of the Atlantic

Calla Schmidt, University of San Francisco

Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College


This activity is an opportunity for students to document their interaction with environmental professionals with whom they interact during and after their environmental field course. Each career portfolio entry includes details about the environmental professional's career path and job characteristics.

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Learning Goals

Content/Concept Goals:

Students will...

  • Document key skills, training, and content knowledge required for various careers in the environmental sector.
  • Acquire and document examples of career trajectories of different environmental professionals.
  • Become more familiar with job characteristics (field vs. lab vs. office time; work environment conditions; travel requirements, etc.) of various careers in the environmental sector.
  • Assess their individual interest in a particular environmental career based on the information that they acquire about training and job characteristics.

Other Skills Goals for this Activity:

Students will...

  • Engage in active listening and notetaking.
  • Practice the ability to ask questions to extract the information necessary for completing the career portfolio entry.

Context for Use


This activity was completed during the 2-week summer E-STEM Field Course with ~20 undergraduate students interested in environmental science as well as the post-field course professional development activities (the course and seminar).

How the Activity is Situated in the Course:

This activity was ongoing throughout the course. A career portfolio entry was required after each interaction with an environmental professional. View the E-STEM field course timeline for more information about how this activity is situated in the course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Student Handout

E-STEM Career Portfolio Handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 15kB Jun27 20)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Each environmental professional in your program will have a different presentation style and way of interacting with your students. In the ESTEM program, some environmental professionals spent a whole day with students in the field. In contrast, other environmental professionals met with students for an hour or two in the context of a lecture about their work. Regardless of the nature and duration of the interaction, it is important to help students get ready for their visit. In other words, it helps to introduce the career portfolio assignment before meeting the environmental professionals and coach students about how to ask questions to get the information that they need and how to actively listen so that they are interacting with the environmental professional, rather than frantically taking notes for the entire visit. If possible, encourage students to spend some informal time with the environmental professional to learn more--suggestions include riding with the professional from site to site in their vehicle, eating lunch with the environmental professional, etc. Depending on the nature and duration of the interaction and how strongly the career resonated with a particular student, the length and level of detail of career portfolio entries may vary considerably.