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Launching the V-Portfolio: Why Vocation is Important By Jon Bates

I just about thought that I knew all that I needed to know about the term vocation as I began my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator with the Christensen Center for Vocation. Turns out, the more I’ve worked on the V-Portfolio, the more I have realized how helpful being precise about what vocation is, intentional of discerning one’s own vocation, and being honest with yourself is for me and for students of Augsburg University.

Screenshot of home page of the V-portfolio website. Image of a car off-roading in the wilderness with text below explaining what the V-Portfolio is. With my role as the V-Portfolio Coordinator, I have been furthering the work of the V-Portfolio alongside the directors with the centers of commitment at Augsburg University; the Sabo Center, Strommen Center, Center for Global Education & Experience, and the Christensen Center for Vocation. The V-Portfolio is essentially an online E-Portfolio but with a foundation of using vocation as the grounding for students, hence the title, Vocation Portfolio. 


Within the updated V-Portfolio website students are introduced or reintroduced to the term vocation, as it is defined as, “the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.” Colloquially vocation has been coined as a term that means the type of career or lifestyle one aspires to have. Vocation is something that happens in the future and begins with the individual. The V-Portfolio offers a different definition of vocation. As through the V-Portfolio, vocation is framed to focus on the present and is in response to the world, the neighbor. This is important work as our vocation is compelled to move because of the neighbor and that we get to decide how to respond using our own gifts, knowledge, and talents.

The V-Portfolio is intentional of having students that are participating in an experience hosted by one of the centers to discern their vocation. At the V-Portfolio launch this June, students participating in an internship, students that were preparing for the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute, and students that work within the centers are included in this launch. This fall the V-Portfolio will be launched for students studying abroad in Mexico. Before, during, and after each center experience a student participates in, they reflect on their vocation in relation to the four centers. Such as, they discern how their experience relates to the neighbor through meaningful work, local citizenship, global citizenship, and through their own vocation. This discernment does not happen in the future. It happens in the present and students will be using their lessons and experiences to define what they are being called to do in response to their neighbor. 


As the V-Portfolio launches and students actively participate in reflecting on their experiences, it is my hope that they understand the gift of vocation in relation to their own life and their neighbor. It’s work that requires intentionality to have it take place. I am thankful and excited to see how the V-Portfolio continues to move. 


Stages of the V-Portfolio Diagram "Stage 1 Orientation, Stage 2 Initial Reflection, Stage 3 Primary Reflection Exercises, Stage 4 Summative Reflection, Stage 5 Capstone Experience"