The portfolio presents artifacts that document your skills and experience as well as your future direction. The presentation of your work should be thoughtfully organized and demonstrate strong attention to detail, thoughtful and clear navigation, and may include both finished work as well as idea generation and concept sketches.
For students in the visual fields, including work outside of your primary area can help you expand your demonstration of design capacity. For example, architecture students might include a page of fine art while art and technology students might include a furniture design. Remember, your goal is to illustrate your basic design skills.
Career advisors are available to coach you in one-one-one meetings and workshops to help you develop a plan for designing and producing your portfolio, in both print and digital formats.
Work samples: Typically this is a selection of work designed to provide a snapshot of your skills and experience. This may be sent along with the résumé and cover letter or may be used as a "leave behind." It may include an abbreviated résumé or be a stand-alone. Its purpose is to elicit a positive response and generate contact or other communication. This can be a simple collection of work samples in a carefully designed presentation.
Book: This version of the portfolio should include samples of your work that communicate your skills in design, software proficiency, and concept development. It should include specific projects related to your field. You are encouraged to include unique abilities such as hand rendering, calligraphy, or other skills related to your discipline. The organization and selection of work should reflect your ability to communicate, attend to details, and organize information.
Online: In some disciplines, the online delivery is the primary mode to showcase work. The digital presentation is an efficient mechanism by which to distribute your work. Again, your design and organization choices are crucial to success.
Career portfolios: For students in disciplines such as art history, planning, public policy and management, and historic preservation, portfolios can document achievements and skills with work samples such as research papers, event brochures, and samples from your activities in the field. In some cases, the inclusion of arts-related work is appropriate.
Portfolio Development—Four Phases
Documenting work and organizing files (this should be an on-going practice throughout your career)
Self-assessment: understanding unique skills and qualities
- Identifying general career direction
2. Initial Phase
- Clarifying pupose of portfolio
- Selecting work to include
- Choosing presentation format
- Assessing your own technical skills to produce the portfolio and selecting appropriate tools to use
3. Production Phase
- Organizing, updating, and digitizing your work
- Layout and design
- Assembling and/or constructing your portfolio
4. Presentation Phase
- Strategies for distribution
- Interviewing skills
- Updating and maintenance