Have you ever left an interview wishing you remembered to mention that project you did in class? Or do you have a broad range of interests and experiences that do not fit on a one-page resume? Have you ever built something really cool and wanted to show everybody but were not sure how? You can answer all of these issues with your own personal portfolio.
A portfolio is similar to a resume in that it showcases your work and achievements, but it is more flexible in that it can take different forms and include all types of media. It can be helpful to share with recruiters and interviewers during your career search, and you can ensure recruiters come across it by sharing a link to it in your resume! It is probably the most underrated career search material, and taking the time to craft your own portfolio is already a huge step to making yourself stand out.
A portfolio is no longer limited to the visual arts. Any work that you are proud of can be arranged into a portfolio. In today’s day and age, it is more accessible (and affordable) than ever to design and define your digital presence. If you are reading this and do not yet have a portfolio, consider making one! Starting early and building it through the years is a worthwhile investment of time and effort. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way in building my own portfolio:
1 Get started! Don’t be too intimidated by the idea of starting a portfolio; let it grow with you! It also does not have to be a full website if you’re not ready for it. Prepare a PDF of sample writing, a Google Drive folder of some visuals (technical drawings, etc.), or a summary of your research experiences. If you are interested in building a website, though, you can use WordPress.org, Wix, or start from scratch and build a website from the ground up.
2 Include media. Take advantage of this opportunity to include pictures, video, audio, and other digital media that can not only supplement your resume or CV but also attract recruiters and professors to you and your work. You can also add your digital presence on other platforms like your Github, Gitlab, Figma, Medium, blogs, etc.
3 Include relevant links. If you worked in a group or on a team, ask your group or team for permission to share your work in your portfolio and offer to link their own LinkedIn and portfolios from yours too. This is especially important if you worked under the guidance of a professor or mentor. Linking to their personal website or portfolio adds credibility to your portfolio and establishes a formal connection between you and them. If it has been a while since you last spoke to this professor or mentor, you can also take this opportunity to catch up with them and learn about each other’s recent work!
4 Include a Contact Me page. If people are interested in the work you do, you’d want them to find you! You can also add other interactive elements to your portfolio depending on how informal you’d like your portfolio to be. You can add polls, book recommendation boxes, a widget of your Twitter feed, and other things.
5 Don’t be afraid to show your fun side! Add a casual blog, photography you’re proud of, or a segment dedicated to your hobbies and interests. For example, my portfolio is focused on my engineering research and experience, but I also included a section on my favorite book quotations.
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from building your own portfolio. Hopefully, it will also help you get to know yourself better like I did when making mine!
— Agnes Robang, Engineering Correspondent