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What Makes a portfolio Work?. WEB420 By Matthew Pummel. What is a Portfolio?. port·fo·li·o  [  pawrt fṓlee  ]    flat case for documents: a large flat case for carrying documents such as maps, photographs, or drawings

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what makes a portfolio work

What Makes a portfolio Work?

WEB420

By Matthew Pummel

what is a portfolio
What is a Portfolio?

port·fo·li·o [ pawrtfṓlee  ]   

  • flat case for documents: a large flat case for carrying documents such as maps, photographs, or drawings
  • portfolio contents: the contents of a portfolio, especially when they represent somebody's creative work
  • group of investments: all the investments held by a person or organization
what is a portfolio1
What is a Portfolio?
  • Collection of works
  • Résumé
  • Contact information
  • Things that we can do
  • Stuff we like
  • Or is it something more?
portfolio basics for web design students presenting your portfolio
Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Presenting Your Portfolio

Do Your Research

It’s important that you do your research beforehand. Companies always like to see that you’ve taken the time to do a background check on the type of work they produce and the kind of company they are. Check out their website, the clients they work with and the kind of design work they produce. You can usually get a good idea of the type of “culture” the design company encompasses. 

portfolio basics for web design students presenting your portfolio1
Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Presenting Your Portfolio

Dealing with Interviews

Interviews can be nerve-racking and are usually dreaded by most students. The reason many students (including myself) feel so nervous when going into interviews is because the spotlight is on you and your work. Since you’re doing most of the talking in an interview, it can be exhausting to talk about yourself for that long. Try to create a distinction between yourself and your work. Focusing the conversation on your work can make you feel more comfortable because it takes the focus off you, even if just for a little while.

portfolio basics for web design students presenting your portfolio2
Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Presenting Your Portfolio

Make It Engaging

Even if you don’t have a heroic story to tell, genuinely be enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm, energy and overall demeanors can ultimately persuade employers whether they hire you or not. They are not only buying into your work, they are buying into you as a person. The ability to express yourself and communicate with your employer is also being put on display. You need to be able to sell yourself to your possible employer about how your talents will directly benefit their company.

“The most important factor of all is to be confident in what you are speaking about. Confidence goes miles.” - Michael La Plante

portfolio basics for web design students presenting your portfolio3
Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Presenting Your Portfolio

There are a few questions you can ask yourself to make sure the focus stays on your work:

  • How relevant is this portfolio piece to my prospective employer’s needs? (This changes from company to company)
  • How did this piece solve a problem? Are there any tangible results from the work you did? 
  • Do I have any interesting stories to tell about this project that are memorable?
portfolio basics for web design students presenting your portfolio5
Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Presenting Your Portfolio

Follow Up

Once you’ve completed your interview, it’s always common courtesy to follow up with your interviewee. Leaving something physical behind such as a business card or a resume, will help your possible employer remember you. It’s also smart to send a follow up thank-you note, showing appreciation for them taking time out of their day to meet with you. Remind them gently about the benefits they would receive if they hired you.

If you didn’t get the job, don’t worry. There are plenty more opportunities out there, but use the interview as a learning experience. If you feel confident enough, ask your interviewee for feedback on your portfolio presentation. This critique is useful for students who are fresh out of school because even though you think you did a great job, there are usually always aspects of your portfolio you can improve on. If you continue to practice your presentation skills in interviews, you will gradually begin to improve over time until, eventually, these types of situations will become second-nature.  

what is your brand1
What is your Brand?

Get to the point

Your tagline should communicate clearly and get to the point. Remember that you are selling the benefits of what you have to offer, not the features! Employers that are looking at portfolios don’t have time to decipher jargon or big words. A slogan is most effective when your audience can understand it immediately. Keeping your slogans under one sentence will help avoid this problem.