Portfolio Building: Part I

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Portfolio Building: Part I

By: Amara Der | Online Community Special Projects Assistant
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As a student, there are certain items that I will need to provide potential employers to demonstrate my experience.  Although I obsessively collect samples to remind me of my work accomplishments, selecting the ones that best represent my skill base in a portfolio can be challenging.

It is time to fish out those dusty certificates stuffed in a shoebox;  I didn’t know until this year, and now I regret not remembering where they are.  Displaying certificates is an excellent way to demonstrate extracurricular activities and credentials from other educational courses.  For example, I completed an acting class not too long ago; the certificate I earned can be included in my portfolio and will demonstrate my ability to speak in front of an audience.

Writing Samples
The first step is to figure out which writing samples to include in the portfolio.  Depending on the job, some options are:

  • Articles
  • Business proposals
  • Media kits
  • Presentations, etc. 

I write a lot of articles for websites, newspapers, and newsletters.  This displays that my work has been published in a variety of mediums, which is validated by others and adds a greater sense of credibility.

Depending on the job I am applying for next, I would have to choose my samples carefully.  I can’t just include all of my work because the employer might not know where to start.  If I have a few strong samples I can showcase, then the employers will focus on those works rather than searching for my best amongst a variety of other pieces.

For example, if I apply for a position that requires experience in business writing, I would select the articles that reflect my best professional tone.  On the other hand, if I’m applying for a website based on fashion, I would present my casually written articles.  With positions directed towards marketing and communication, the business letters and media kits are more appropriate.

Although targeting my prospective job with specific writing samples is very effective, including other writing styles will provide a well-rounded and complete portfolio.

Design Samples
The wonders of Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator have enhanced my communication experience to the next level.  Little did I know that design can be enjoyable!  Not only can I visually express my creativity, but I can also substantiate my computer skills with these programs.

Thus, including design samples is very important.  It proves an awesome variety of work I am capable of.  On top of that, it makes the portfolio a lot more attractive and colourful.

At this moment, I don’t have a lot of design samples.  In this case, I would include everything until I have designed more material.  Nevertheless, targeting the position requirements in my portfolio with the samples that I have is very important.  Maybe I can place the significant work samples near the front, instead of having my work organized in chronological order.  The coordination of the design pieces should be displayed immaculately to ensure that the portfolio is something employers will notice.

Providing a flawless package of samples is crucially important.   Don’t forget to edit your work for spelling or grammatical errors, which can cause your elimination from a job competition without your knowing.   Not only would a mistake-free sample make me appear more professional, there will be less heartache when one is found later by an employer.

Gathering samples of work accomplishments is crucial when constructing a portfolio.  Whether it is an artwork or a mathematic formula, categorize work samples and have fun, show those employers what you can do for them.

Posted on April 22, 2012