Career Portfolios

Creating a Career Portfolio

Your career portfolio can serve as a catalog of your educational, internship, work and co-curricular activities throughout your college career. You can start collecting work samples as early as your freshman year and from that choose your best work and create a career portfolio to use in an interview.  Bring your portfolio to the interview and, when appropriate, showcase certain pages to demonstrate a specific skill that the interviewer is probing.  For example, if an interviewer asks you to share a situation in which you demonstrated strong communication skills, you can describe the situation and use a writing sample from your portfolio to support your point.  Please remember, a portfolio should be used to SUPPORT your case regarding why you are the best fit for the position for which you are applying.  It should not be used as a show and tell item that is dropped onto an employer’s table or handed to an employer to browse through (unless the employer specifically asks to do so).  However, you could create at “leave behind”.  This is a sample of work that you copy and leave with the employer at the closing of the interview.

What materials do I need to create a portfolio?

One three ring binder
Protector pages
Index Tabs
Or, for an electronic version, a website (see career services for more information)

What should be included?

Table of contents – You want to organize your portfolio in an easy to understand pattern. 

Updated resume

Letters of recommendation – Ask at least two people to write you a recommendation that you can include in your portfolio.  Consider asking recent supervisors as well as faculty members.  Allow whoever is writing the recommendation ample time to complete it.  For example, give the person at least two weeks time instead of two days time.

Your best writing samples – Many positions, especially those in marketing, communications and journalism, require writing samples because it will be a major part of the position.  However, strong writing skills are typically valued regardless of the industry.  Writing samples could include an article you’ve written or a short (1-2 page) essay, report or business proposal for a college class.

Work samples – In addition to writing samples, include a sample of work that you had a major role in designing.  This could be a direct mail piece that you worked on in an internship, class project or organization for which you are affiliated.  Other examples include colorful copy of a flyer, brochure or invitation you designed or snapshots of a webpage you developed. 

Awards and/or certificates of achievement – Make photocopies of awards or achievements.  These might include newspaper clippings, articles, photos from awards ceremonies, posters, congratulatory letters or thank you cards.  Anything that represents your doing something very well, and being acknowledged for it, belongs in your portfolio.

Additional tips:

  • Keep it short, 7-10 pages.
  • Make sure it is clearly organized and understandable.  A professional looking portfolio will enhance and support the positive presentation of your work and achievements.
    Divide sections with tabs and use clear section headings.
  • Make sure your name and contact information is easy to locate.
  • Use good quality paper for every document.
  • Edit – be sure to proofread everything you include. Your documents should be error free.
  • Present your portfolio to the interviewer when it seems appropriate to do so.  Only you can show what you can do!