PROJECTS: Past and current projects are the best examples of your work. Be sure to include your most notable projects. Include specific context on the assignment or task, a quick summary of the process or steps involved in completing the project (identifying main skills used), and how long the project took.
Include skills (technical and others) that you grew or learned as a result of the project or task.
And lastly, remember to specify if the project was a team project or a solo effort. If you worked on this as a team, include your role specifically.
Limit use of links to other websites. Instead, screenshot anything that already exists online if it is not easily transferrable.
CERTIFICATES or DEGREES: Ensure your portfolio includes items which indicate professional and personal development. If you have earned a certificate or degree, include it!
If you have received unofficial training in a noteworthy area, and are competent in that skill or knowledge, include it as well. In this case, you could write a short paragraph indicating what competency was learned, how it was taught, and how you have utilized that skill in your work.
AWARDS: Awards are important to include in a portfolio as long as they are fairly recent, and work related. Use your discretion in this area. Depending on the situation, an attendance award could be beneficial. An award for creativity in a project also could be worth showcasing. A high school Math-A-Thon award would not likely be relevant in most instances.
Organization of a portfolio is key. Similar to a resume or curriculum vitae (CV), you want the order to flow from section to section. But many options exist! Some may prefer to organize your work chronologically but consider other ways that make sense to you. Be creative! A portfolio is an extension of you and should tell the story of your professional growth.
If you are needing a portfolio, and chances are in the informatics, computing, and engineering fields you do, the presentation of a portfolio is critical in showcasing your creativity. Be intentional in how you choose to present your work. Remember – this is a direct visual representation of your competencies and personality.
You must first consider how to present your portfolio. While some students might upload their portfolio onto a USB flash drive, consider creating a website which you can reference or link off of your resume or CV. This ensures instant shareability and access.
Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are easy options. Common platforms also include PortfolioBox, Wix, WordPress or Weebly. These are all free to users as well.
Squarespace is another common portfolio tool although there are costs associated with using this tool.
No matter what platform you choose, ensure that your information is password protected and safe. Your portfolio should only be accessed by those you give permission to view. Also do a confidentiality check to ensure that you are sensitive to school or work-related proprieties. If necessary, generalize or black-out corporate/client names and information.
In addition to the documents listed above, consider saving and including in your portfolio, written correspondence (i.e., emails or course community boards) that highlight professional relationships you have built and speak to your work performance. For instance, perhaps a professor complemented your research methodology on your capstone project, or a peer gave you a shout out for leading the team effectively over the 8-week project. Clip those remarks and compile a reference section to include in your portfolio. Be sure to include a short paragraph on the context of the compliment. It might seem trivial but to a prospective employer or current boss, these are character indicators which emphasize that you are respected and valued, and that you are capable of building rapport with others. These are prime examples of your reputation and work ethic so showcase them!
Portfolios must continuously be updated. Often, this is easier to accomplish if you routinely set aside time, once per month for example, to do this. Put it in your calendar and set an automatic reminder!
Check your emails, work calendar, social media, etc. for committee work, projects, certificates or awards, performance reviews, or compliments that could be used as resume and/or portfolio material. Remember, your portfolio should highlight your work and your character!
4-step Portfolio Plan:
- Collect examples of your work history and accomplishments
- Organize these materials
- Select a presentation system
- Establish a plan to continually update