Creating a Portfolio

  1. Self-Assessment/Self-Examination
    Take inventory of all the skills you've gained from the variety of experiences you've had. Start by asking yourself, "What skills have I gained through my major and/or liberal arts education? Ask for help from your advisor or from a faculty member if you're not sure.

    Second, look outside the classroom. If you've done an internship or have had a good summer job, what did that experience teach you? Do you or have you held a leadership position either in a club or athletic team? What was/is involved in that leadership role?

    While you are compiling the various skills you have in your repertoire, start asking yourself, "Which of these skills am I particularly good at, and which ones do I enjoy using?" The answers to those questions may help figure out the type of position or industry you want to apply to.
  2. Gather Your Evidence
    Collect & save everything! Archive! Ideally, you want to be collecting and saving examples of your work as you go, storing them in a working career portfolio. Later you will select the best samples of your work that best match the particular employer's needs. See Items You Might Include for the types of examples a portfolio might include .

    Research the industry/position to determine if there are particular skills or experiences you need to gain before your career portfolio is complete.
  3. Sort & Organize
    Look for common themes and skills sets among your various samples of work. Organize your portfolio in according to the skills you are highlighting.

    Make sure each example is clear about the skill it is illustrating. If needed, add any explanation necessary so that the example can speak for itself.
  4. Filter
    Analyze data critically, prioritizing each portfolio element to target employer's needs. Include only your best representative samples. It is more important to include fewer outstanding examples than to load your portfolio full of mediocre ones.
  5. Format
    Decide on your visual layout/presentation (i.e., hard copy vs. web-based). Fall back on "resume rules;" consistent placement; consistent fonts; strive for simplicity; use active language verses a passive voice; check for spelling and grammatical errors!

    The more concise the better--make sure your portfolio is not longer than 20 pages or the employer won't want to read it!

    Like your resume and cover letters, make sure your portfolio is tailored to the position, industry or employer you are applying to.
  6. Finishing Touches
    Make sure it looks professional! The more effort you put into preparation, usually the better the impression. Send the message to the employer, "If I put this much work into my portfolio, imagine what I'll do for you on the job." Remember, your portfolio is a reflection of your work, don't just throw it together!

    Get feedback from people you know in the industry, faculty, and advisors in Career Services.