Getting your first full time, paid job out of college can be tough. Irrespective of your field, there are many other graduates to compete against who have performed as well if not better than you academically. So how do you stand out? It’s a huge issue, in fact we have written posts that address this already. You can access them here:
One very important way you can stand out is by creating a college portfolio. A College Portfolio, if done properly, is an incredibly powerful tool in helping you land that all important first job
Why Create a College Portfolio?
A college portfolio is a collection of your very best work that you have put together in order to show potential employers what you can do. The portfolio demonstrates:
- The strength of your written communication skills
- Highlights your best achievements
- Shows the consistency of your work over time i.e. the years of study
- Is a reflection of your commitment i.e. The effort you put into creating your college portfolio is like the effort you will put into your first job if they hire you.
What Should You Include in Your College Portfolio?
Think first about your audience. Your college portfolio is designed to show potential employers what you can do so you need to have a variety of work to showcase your skills.
You need to chose the examples carefully. These should be chosen to match the job you are applying to. As such, you may need to adjust your portfolio examples for each job you apply to if you need to highlight different skills. Your portfolio should include:
- Cover Page
- A Table of Contents
- An Updated Resume
- Approximately 8-10 pieces of your best work
- Any Awards of Certificates you have received
How to Set Out the Work Examples in Your College Portfolio?
When you are choosing your best work to feature in your portfolio you can approach it a number of ways. Think about the following options:
- College or University Work – Examples of case studies, individual and group assignments etc..
- Internship or Volunteer Work – Real life examples from casual work you have done while studying
- Proactive Work you have created – If you have a job interview you can choose to create an example of the work you could do for that role or brand or even another brand in the same category.
Once you have chosen the most appropriate examples you can use the following format to set out your work:
- Define Scope – Clearly define the goals or objectives
- Methodology – A brief description of what the activity involved
- Results – List the finding and results as they relate to the goal
- Learnings – It is important to show you can learn from positive experience and from mistakes. These should be listed here.
- Your Contribution – Clearly define your role in the work
Digital or Hard Copy College Portfolio?
This really depends on your industry and which format will best showcase your work. You should always have a hard copy with you when you go to an interview. You can refer to it when you are answering questions about how you would approach certain examples.
If you would like to create a digital portfolio then there is no shortage of great options. You can set up a website of your own or start your own blog, you can use LinkedIn or even portfolio programs like PortfolioBox.
If you prefer a less complicated approach maybe try more mainstream approaches like Powerpoint or Presi. To investigate all the options available to you have a read of our post – Creating a Digital Portfolio for a Job Interview.
Once your college portfolio is finished you are ready to start applying for jobs. Remember though, your work portfolio is a representation of your best work which will off course change over time. As you get more ‘real life experience’ go back and add the examples to your portfolio and replace the college examples. This way, anytime you want to look for a new role your portfolio will be ready to go.
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