You’ve built your resume and you start applying to jobs, and suddenly an email appears in your inbox from a potential employer:

“We’ve reviewed your resume and would like to schedule an interview with you next week. Could you share some samples of your work with us prior to or during the interview?” 

Your emotions go from nervous to excited to “Oh no! How can I begin to gather up all my best, amazing work?! There’s just so much of it!” Here are some ideas for creating a successful portfolio.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a space to show proof of work and offer the employer or graduate program samples of skills related to your field. Portfolios look different depending on your major and what you’re applying to. They can be digital or physical. Portfolios can be used in any field but are more likely to be required in fields such as art, writing, marketing, drafting, programming, web development, or other fields that often develop tangible products through coursework, internships, and jobs.

Should I use a digital or physical portfolio?

Often, digital portfolios can be easy-to-update and provide information to future employers before you are in person. However, physical portfolios can show off printing expertise, drawings, or other work that is helpful to view in-person. If you’re unsure which you should choose, start by asking your professors or professionals in your field. 

How do I start a portfolio?

  • Write a list of items you want to include based on your major or career path; these items should include what best portrays your skills, achievements, and experience in a tangible way
  • Determine whether a digital or paper portfolio meets your needs
  • Gather all of these items into one digital folder on your desktop or in a drive online, or print them out and arrange them in order of importance
  • Choose an online portfolio resource if you opt for a digital version to display your work in an easy-to-view format
  • Have your portfolio reviewed by your instructors, professionals in your field, and the Office of Career Services

What should I put in a portfolio?

Your portfolio content will depend on your audience, skills you want to market, your goal, and your career field. Consider asking other students or professionals in your field for advice on what to include. Here are some ideas of what you can include:

  • Projects you have worked on as a class assignment or in a job (art students might include logos designed in Adobe Illustrator; business student can include budget and business plan created for entrepreneurship class; chemistry student might include photos of lab experiments from on-campus research project)

  • Reports or research summaries; relevant published articles (social sciences students can share a poster presentation they shared at a regional conference)

  • Awards or certificates (healthcare majors can include CPR or BLS certifications)

  • Professional licenses (accounting student might list when/if they are CPA eligible)

  • Contact information for references

  • Your name/contact information

  • NOTE: Items written or created for an employer are usually considered property of the employer; ask for permission to use these items in your portfolio 

How do I build an online portfolio?

Websites: The following websites are helpful to develop a digital portfolio. Some may require subscriptions, but many have free versions available. Some of these websites help display samples of work for particular fields. For example, GitHub is a code hosting platform often used by computer science or engineering students. You can also ask individuals in your field what websites may be most commonly used.

LinkedIn: Note that your LinkedIn profile can be used as a portfolio if you are only planning to share work digitally. LinkedIn sections such as Experience, Education, Publications, Projects, and Honors & Awards allow you to embed hyperlinks to your work or even upload photos. 

Google Drive/Direct Link: You can also share a link directly to a neat, organized file or folder with all of your work. Be sure if you share hyperlinks to samples of your work, that they are available to anyone with the link (especially if shared through Google Drive).