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Building a Portfolio

Portfolios are great tools for students from all majors. A professional portfolio is usually taken to an interview. This type of portfolio is a documentation and demonstration of your accomplishments. It shows growth in your skills and understanding over time. A portfolio not only documents your results but also how you got there and what you learned in the process.

Benefits of Portfolios

Regardless of how you’ll use the finished product, all portfolios can help you:

  • Write or update your resume more quickly, since all the relevant information will be in one place.
  • Organize information you’ve gathered over the years, such as awards, certificates, and records of other accomplishments.
  • Showcase your achievements, skills, and abilities for an interview.
  • See your career as a collection of skills and talents that you’ve developed, rather than just a list of job titles.
Common Components of a Portfolio
  • Statement of professional goals and philosophy
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Narrative description of experiences you want to highlight; for example:
    • Academic Work
    • Research
    • Teaching
    • Leadership
    • Service
    • Publications
    • Conference Participation
    • Work Experience and Skills
    • Performance Reviews
    • Recognition and Awards
    • Appendices: Annotated materials and examples to illustrate or elaborate on your statement of goals, philosophy, and the experiences referred to in your narrative description

E-Portfolios: Effective and Easy

Electronic portfolios are an excellent way to showcase your skills and your computer abilities, more and more employers are seeking students with high levels of technology skills.

The most effective portfolios are those targeted towards a particular skill set or career direction. They may include video, photos, files, a copy of your resume, and a short introduction much like your career fair “commercial.” Write descriptions or captions for anything you include so that the relevance is clear. Create an e-portfolio yourself to show-off your technical skills, or use a system like

Creative Portfolios

A creative portfolio contains only samples of work relevant to your particular field. Just like a professional portfolio, your creative portfolio should be organized and presented in a quality format.

Many creative fields also expect a title page, essay, or artist statement and biography. Talk with people working in your field about the specific expectations for this type of portfolio, and whether an electronic or hardcopy format is preferred.