What is a Portfolio?
It is a brief (approximately 10 pages) collection of your best and most recent work, showcasing your talents, skills, and experience to a potential employer. A portfolio should provide evidence of your abilities, communicate in more depth what you can offer if hired, and be organized and designed so that you can incorporate it smoothly and effectively during the interview to compliment or enhance your responses to questions.
Types of Portfolios: Electronic and Paper
You may want to create an electronic portfolio, also called an "e-portfolio," on the web or on a CD. Or, you may choose a more traditional, paper portfolio route of printing materials and binding your work together. Always use copies, not originals, and plan on leaving it with the potential employer.
Advantages of E-Portfolios
A major advantage is that you can share a large amount of information with many people, for example, if you are participating in a group interview. If your portfolio is online, then the website address can also be included in your resume/cover letter so potential employers can view it before the interview. An additional advantage is that this type of portfolio highlights your technical skills.
Disadvantages of E-Portfolios
A disadvantage of using e-portfolios is the type of software used and available. Making arrangements to ensure compatible software will be available during your interview is important. In case technical difficulties do arise, bring copies of your originals to distribute.
Advantages of Paper Portfolios
Traditional paper portfolios can be assembled to look professional and allow you to have a visual representation of your work on hand. This is crucial, as it makes viewing your portfolio accessible to anyone wishing to see it. This also allows you to appear prepared for your interview. Moreover, they are easy to update.
Disadvantages of Paper Portfolios
A disadvantage of a paper portfolio is that you don't necessarily know how many copies to bring to the interview.
It is appropriate to ask beforehand, however, how many people will be participating in the interview but make sure you explain that you want to know so that you can bring copies of your portfolio for everyone.
Content: What goes in a Portfolio? What do employers want to see?
Things to consider: Who will view your portfolio? What skills do you want to market? What is your purpose? Does your portfolio reflect your accomplishments? Your career field? You may include:
Projects you have worked on as a class assignment or in a job
Reports or research summaries; relevant published articles
Graphics/technical project print outs
Awards or certificates
Contact information for references
Your contact information (in case the portfolio is separated from your resume/cover letter)
NOTE: Items written or created for an employer are usually considered property of the employer; ask for permission to use these items in your portfolio
Additional Tips for Creating a Portfolio
Quality is more important than quantity.
Be ethical - take credit only for what you did in a project.
Prepare when and how to introduce and discuss the portfolio in the interview.
The first page should be sturdy - a cover is recommended.
Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!
Ask for feedback from professors, career services staff, professionals in your field, friends, family, etc.