11 Portfolio tips for fresh-faced grads and internship-seekers

This is the time of year when resume and portfolio stress starts chipping away at grad students’ calm veneer. The dubious economy seems to have resulted in fewer job and internship listings, which increases competition for positions. 

Last week our school held a portfolio review panel with four professionals: a recruiter for a tech company, another hiring manager at that company, a hiring manager for Ford, and one from Techsmith.  The panel reviewed five online Human-Computer Interaction portfolios.  Here are some of their tips, which can sometimes be taken with a grain of salt.

  1. Make important projects visible – the panelists weren’t concerned with past projects being in chronological order.  It is most important to highlight your key projects – often by placing them at the top of the list or in another prominent location.  Link to finished products or deliverables where possible.
  2. Project Process – talk about the process you went through in a given project.  
  3. Explain your role – clearly outline how you contributed to the project.
  4. PDF Resume – be sure to include one and link to it.  It often makes sense to open it in a new window, although there wasn’t uniform agreement on this point.
  5. Online Resume – recreate your PDF resume on your site so that users don’t have to wait to open the PDF.
  6. Photo or No-to? – all 4 panelists agreed that you should not include a photo of yourself on your portfolio; they reasoned that it may result in discrimination.  I’m not too sure about this one – I think if you’re going for a really competitive position and you want to remain extremely businesslike, take the picture down.  But if you want to communicate a little more about yourself, leave it there.  What about real estate agents?  Their pictures are all over the place (although sometimes I wish they weren’t.)
  7. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – don’t link to Facebook or Twitter (unless your Twitter feed is completely professional); do link to LinkedIn.  LinkedIn can help you display your connectedness, which can communicate your interest in a certain topic or community
  8. Open links in same window or new window? Like I mentioned, there was some disagreement.  But I think the panelists agreed that external links should open in a new window, while internal links should open in the same window.  Using the external link icon helps set expectations. 
  9. Include month and year – Make sure to include both month and year on your resume, not just the year.  
  10. Highlight your client contact and presentation skills – pretty self-explanatory.
  11. International experience? – talk about it.  Especially true for companies with international offices.

One thought on “11 Portfolio tips for fresh-faced grads and internship-seekers

  1. I disagree with the photo one. What kind of discrimination are they talking about? Like if you’re ugly they won’t want to hire you? I think bloggers found out a long time ago that people associate more with the “brand” if there’s a photo. I can’t believe I wrote the word “brand.” Anyway, I’m actually thinking of integrating my twitter, facebook and other junk into my portfolio page. Luckily I’m not looking for a job at the moment.

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