Building a portfolio: Start Now for Success

When you are applying for a degree program an entry -level job you may be asked to show the work you have done in the past. But what if you’ve never had a job before? It’s never too soon to start collecting samples of what you can do, even if it’s just from your high school classes or a volunteer position.

Show your thought process.

Projects that involve simple questions and answers may not be ideal examples of your academic ability. However, if the work involves thinking through a complex problem and determining a solution, you may have the basis for a great portfolio piece. Remember that the reader does not know all the background information of your project, so include a cover letter to explain the steps you took to execute the plan and what you achieved.

Start writing at a college level.

If you are still in high school, it may be tempting to just write a simple essay and receive a decent grade. But if you take the time now to refine your writing skills, you will have much better work to show to college and job recruiters. So how does a high school student learn to write at college-level standards? If you have friends or family members already doing a degree program, ask to see their work (that is, if their grades are decent) and try to emulate their style. You can also find ample resources online that can help you learn to improve your communications skills. The important thing is to start now so that you will be proud to show off your written work in the years to come.

Create a professional presentation.

Your portfolio will be much more impressive if it’s presented right. Check out your local business stationary store to find portfolio binders and page protectors. In an interview, you want to be able to walk the recruiter through your work, page by page, so make sure you find a sharp looking portfolio that makes the projects stand out. If your work is text heavy, consider formatting the type in a clean font with double spacing to make it easier to read quickly. Most recruiters will only spend a few minutes glancing over your work, so make sure to make their job easy by letting your best samples standout.

Go Online

To reach an even bigger audience, you may want to put your portfolio online. There are plenty of cheap or free websites that will let you upload your work samples. This is particularly handy if you have a multimedia portfolio with video or audio clips. An online portfolio can be a great two-for-one deal as well: you get to display your work and the fact that you are tech-savvy all at once.

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