17 March, 2010

The Dreaded Portfolio. How dreadful is it, really?

The portfolio. Or, the Death Sentence as I referred to it in my head. Just the idea of approaching random strangers in banks and at the police station and even in the street had my mind reeling and my blood pressure soaring. And when at my initial intake at the Gemeente (with our dear friend Anita) I could find out absolutely no information as to what to expect aside from having to complete 30 tasks to the satisfaction of said random strangers, I almost booked a one way ticket out. Really. Impending marriage, mortgage, job, all potentially out the window because of the legislative demands of a country that I only hope to reside in temporarily.

But! This is not a rant! I had one of those earlier this week. This is going to be an informative tool to prepare you for your own upcoming portfolio.

I had discussed the Death Sentence with my fantastic teacher who invited me in for a meeting outside class time. Honestly, the woman (so far) is a saint. Making time to help out, rather than just letting me get on with it. Anyway, I had expressed that I was going to take the assessment option of the inburgering exam because I couldn't face the humiliation of the portfolio, and she insisted we talk about it before I make up my mind. The assessments are designed for the more intelligent and fluent candidates, as it is in an exam type situation, where you go to Amsterdam and go through 6 role plays to demonstrate your knowledge of society and fluency in Dutch. At this point in my studies, this is clearly not an option for me, although I was prepared to work for it, if only to save embarrassment. Ridiculous, I hear you call me. But bear in mind that this is coming from a woman who lasted only a couple of hours in a cold calling job (they tricked me into thinking that the callers were expecting me!).

So as I was saying, my teacher invited me in for a discussion about the portfolio. She insisted that it was by far the easiest option, and that it had changed, so is no longer 30 different assessments. Instead, as part of the work portfolio, there are 20 assessments and then a panel interview discussing the completed portfolio. Perhaps it is merely a Life Sentence..?

The portfolio is divided into three sections. Burgerschap, Werk Hebben, and Werk Zoeken.

In this section you can choose 8 tasks to complete from a list of 35. For some sections written or oral proof (or either) may be provided. Examples include:
  1. Register as a resident in the Gemeente (written or spoken)
  2. Register a newborn baby in the Gemeente (spoken only)
  3. Notify the Gemeente of impending marriage or registered partnership (written or spoken)
  4. Request a document from the Gemeente (eg a passport application) (spoken)
  5. Reporting a stolen article to the police (written or spoken)
  6. Opening a bank account (written or spoken)
  7. Informing the bank that your pin pas has been stolen and needs to be blocked (spoken)
  8. An ATM receipt (written)
  9. Setting up a standing order at the bank (written or spoken)
  10. Requesting information about insurance (spoken)
  11. Cancelling an insurance policy (written or spoken)
  12. Reporting to the insurance company that your house has been broken into/something stolen (written or spoken)
  13. Choosing a house to rent from the housing listings (written)
  14. A discussion with the rental housing association (spoken)
  15. Paying rent (written)
  16. Paying tax to the Gemeente (written or spoken)
  17. Reading and recording the electricity/gas meter (written)
  18. Pay the electricity or gas bill (written)
  19. Speak to the electricity or gas company (spoken)
  20. Understanding the paper and rubbish collection roster for your area (written)
So, that's 20 examples to choose from. You must note that in many of the written cases, a receipt or a completed form is sufficient. For task 20, a copy of the roster is enough!

Werk Zoeken (Looking for work)
In this section only 4 tasks need to be completed. However, the list to choose from is much smaller. Here are some examples:
  1. Register with a recruitment agency (written or spoken)
  2. Provide an example of a job vacancy (written)
  3. Ask for information about vacancies (written or spoken)
  4. Show your preparations for a job interview (written)
  5. Simulate a telephone interview (spoken)
  6. Complete an job application form (written)
  7. Read an invitation for an interview (written)
  8. Prepare questions for a new job contract (written)
It is my understanding that for providing an example of a vacancy, a printout (that you understand, of course) is sufficient. You can also supply your invitation to be interviewed as an example.

Werk Hebben (At work)
Like the Burgerschap, you will need to obtain 8 examples from your work environment. But, the list is extensive, so if you are actually working it should not be too much trouble. Unless, like me you work 100% in English (even our contracts are in English). This makes the situation a bit more complicated. As does being unemployed!
  1. A discussion about your job function/description (spoken)
  2. Call your employer to report as being sick (spoken)
  3. Complete a form from the sickness governing body (arbodienst) attesting to your health and return to work (written)
  4. A discussion with your company's doctor (spoken)
  5. Participate in a work meeting (spoken)
  6. Write minutes from a work meeting (written)
  7. Discuss with colleagues task sharing (who does what) (spoken)
  8. Talk with your colleague about everyday occurrences (gossip??) (spoken)
  9. Discussions with clients/customers and what you will do for them (spoken)
  10. Write a handover for your colleague(s) (written)
  11. Explain to a colleague what needs to be done as part of a handover of tasks (spoken)
  12. Read a notice about the company's hygiene process (written)
  13. Discuss hygiene processes (spoken)
  14. Respond to a customer complaint (written and spoken)
  15. Read and understand instructions (written)
  16. Ask questions about received work instructions (spoken)
Quite a few of the required tasks look to be reasonably easy, for example calling in sick, or the point about hygiene. It is my understanding that a copy of a hygiene notice (from the bathroom for example) would suffice.

Once the portfolio is complete to the satisfaction of your teacher who will be helping you along the way, you will be invited for a panel discussion/interview regarding your portfolio. In the past, before the new 20 task portfolio was introduced, the candidate would submit the portfolio then answer in writing a list of questions within a 15 minute time frame. That has been abolished now, and the candidate will instead take part in a 30 minute discussion to answer questions about the different tasks undertaken, to ensure that there is full understanding, what was most difficult, what took you the longest/shortest amount of time, etc.

I think I can probably downgrade the portfolio to a Misdemeanor now. One point to note, you can supply forms that are post 2006 (or no older than five years). So, you can supply a bank application form that you filled out in 2007 for example.

My entire class has been asked to bring their portfolios tonight for discussion, so if there is anything I've missed, I'll add it to this post. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate.


Maarten said...

Nice, looking forward to hearing if the stuff we collected is sufficient! good luck tonight!

wilber said...

Wow! Thanks for the excellent write-up and details.
First thing I did was copy, save and print this for reference in the future.

You're right. It does not look quite as daunting as I imagined, however still does not look 'fun'.

At the moment, Ik heb geen werk, so that might be a problem, depending on the timing. And as with you, my last job was 100% English and a new one probably will be also, unless I mysteriously gain the gift of language. And my job search, to this point, has been through people I know, or job-sites that cater to English speaking jobs.

Well, I won't turn this into a rant. I (we) really have no choice in the matter, since the rules have changed. So, for the time being, I will try not worry about it until the time is closer, for me. But, try to remember to save any examples for when that time comes.


Unknown said...

Yep, that's the best thing you can do.

I did find out that for one example you can complete an aangiften from the police, but you have to take it to the police station and get it stamped! what a waste of time!!! So, get collecting! All your yearly tax to the gemeente, your jaarafrekening (can be in your name or your partner's name), the recycling and rubbish collecting roster, ATM receipt, any of your job applications (in Dutch), job printouts from the internet, the electricity bill, an acceptgiro etc. If you have anything from your previous job that is in Dutch you might be able to use that. Like your contract (if it's post 2006) etc.

It just makes the Werk Hebben section very difficult for you. There is one guy in my class who doesn't work, and he just can't do that section. It's really not fair - he should be doing one of the other branches instead, but I think the Gemeente pushes what they think is best without really taking our needs into consideration. We'll get there!

Valentijn said...

Again, so grateful my gemeente will pay for my classes through B2 level. Then I can take the statsexamen and avoid the portfolio. It's not that the portfolio sounds too hard, it's just that I hate talking to strangers, especially in awkward situations :-P

Unknown said...

Valentijn, talking to strangers is something that I really do not cope well with at all. If I had had the time and with the wisdom of hindsight, I wish I had taken the staatsexamen route. I just couldn't fit it in and I wanted it all to be over with.

Chau said...

My girlfriend is going to the Assesment next month. Does any one of you have any questions that she can expect? Just to prepare her a bit better?


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