Portfolios 101: Making Your Accomplishments Speak for You


by Linda Yang

Are you a college student or job seeker looking for creative ways to showcase your skills, achievements, and experiences? How about making a portfolio? You can make one electronically or create a print version, depending on your needs and the expectations in your field.

 

Types of Portfolios

A portfolio is a collection of your achievements. It showcases your hard work to potential employers. Traditional portfolios are printed materials that you store in page protectors inside three-ring binders. This may be a good option if you have original artwork, newspaper clippings or other materials that show best in hard copy form. Electronic portfolios are online and free for Minnesotans. You can create and selectively share your electronic portfolio with anyone, anywhere, at any time.

 

Why Create One?

Ever heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” In an economy that increasingly values demonstrable results, a portfolio can be your best asset. On a resume, you summarize your duties of a previous job. Portfolios show rather than tell what you can do. It’s living proof of your accomplishments.

 

What Should You Include?

Your portfolio should include at least 10-20 items. Novices will probably have slightly different portfolios than experienced job seekers. Students, or people who have fairly limited work experience, can focus more on their educational, volunteer, or personal accomplishments. On the other hand, job seekers with more experience should highlight their most recent and relevant skills and experiences, targeting them towards a potential occupation.

 

Consider including the following in your portfolio:

  • College transcripts (if you recently graduated)
  • List of references
  • Writing samples—class projects, blogs, web pages, newsletters, research papers, professional papers, grant applications
  • Presentations, pictures or videos (if applicable)
  • Professional information—licenses, certifications, memberships in professional associations
  • Awards and honors—certificates, medals, grants, nominations, newspaper article on achievements
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Internship experiences
  • Artwork
  • Anything else that’s relevant to your profession

 

Final Tips

Remember to keep your portfolio updated with the most relevant experiences and skills. Before showcasing your work, have a career counselor or trusted advisor look over it. You should also make sure your portfolio is tailored to fit the jobs you want. Assembling your work can be time consuming—but it sure can pay off in the end.

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