See Nobody Cares

Being asked to provide a portfolio as part of a job search is increasingly more common, especially for programmers, designers, and developers, among other fields - sometimes more so than providing information about your degree !

Managers want to see applied examples of your knowledge. But what if you're starting your job search and your portfolio is empty?

Polish School Assignments

You likely already have content to add to your portfolio from your classwork:

  • Take a project that you turned in to get your awesome grades,

  • implement valid feedback from your instructor or peers,

  • and put it in your portfolio!

Quiz

You have a project that you think would be great for your portfolio, but your grade wasn't that great on it. Your professor provided feedback on how it could be an "A+" project. What should you do?

Put the project in as-is

Apply the feedback and put it in

Add the project and feedback

Find another project for your portfolio

Seek Design Challenges

Search within your networks to find design challenges:

  • Submit a piece to active challenges and use the feedback to improve on it before putting it in your portfolio.

  • Use the prompts from a challenge or a design-a-day list, even if it's not currently active.

  • Put it in your portfolio!

art illustration GIF by Daniel Zender

Volunteer Your Skills

Organizations need skilled volunteers!

  • Reach out to a group you want to support.

  • Briefly outline what support you can provide with your skills: build an e-learning course, update their website, design a logo, manage a social media presence, etc.

  • Let them know you will put it in your portfolio.

Imagination Spongebob

Propose A Better Solution

Remember all those times you say "I could do better!"?

Do it!

  • Build a better magazine ad for a new potato chip flavor.

  • Storyboard better training for that internship you had.

  • Write a better article about your favorite amusement park ride.

  • Put it in your portfolio.

Tuxedo Winnie The Pooh

Build Your Own Client

If you don't have clients yet make your own! Build your own fictional project brief.

You have full control, so make something that interests you!

  • In the brief, include:

    • who your client is

    • what they need

    • why they need it

    • any other information you would ask for in your design process

  • Design what your "client" asks for.

  • Put both the client brief and the finished product in your portfolio!

Example brief 1:

  • You: A graphic designer interested in marine invertebrates

  • Client: An aquarium

  • The ask: Five Instagram-ready images for a new nudibranch exhibit

Marine Life Art GIF by pikaole

Example brief 2:

  • You: An app designer interested in solar power

  • Client: A manufacturer of house-mounted solar panels

  • The ask: An app for a homeowner with limited technical knowledge to monitor the home's panel's energy collection, efficiency, and repair status

Solar Energy GIF by Nexamp

Realize Not Everything Must Be A Final Product

Building pieces for your portfolio seems intimidating: building a scope, outlining, making the final product, testing, etc.

It's ok to have any of the following:

  • scoping documents

  • storyboards or wireframes

  • minimum viable products

Just get it in your portfolio!

Quiz

You're in school and want to start applying for jobs after your graduation, which is in 6 months. What can you do to make an impressive portfolio?

Focus on grades, not projects

Take myriad classes to show flexibility

Copy/paste a B+ term paper as is

None of these

Take Action

Great is good; done is better.

A portfolio is a dynamic creation.

If a piece isn't perfect, that's ok: just put it in your portfolio! Then improve it or replace it with something newer and better.

To get started on your portfolio today:

Improve Work In Progress GIF by eugeniaclara

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This Byte has been authored by

EC

Elizabeth Cahill

she/her/hers | Curriculum & Instructional Designer