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Portfolios: tackle your fears head on

Howdy, fearless readers!

Just as I promised in my last blog entry, this time we will examine the exciting world of... (drum roll please...) portfolios!
Ok, first things first - what in the world is a portfolio, exactly? Well, basically a portfolio is anything you want it to be. Hehehe... yeah, like THAT answer helped you any! No, seriously, a porfolio really is whatever you want it to be. It can be just another tool in your arsenal of internship and job hunting strategies to showcase the work you have done and what you are capable of doing. Porfolios also serve the purpose of showcasing your work in greater depth where your resume falls short. For example, if you have a project that is so cool but plain text on a single piece of paper (i.e. your resume) just doesn't support the explanation that is needed - well, in this case, showcasing your work in a portfolio can be the perfect way to highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Portfolios can be in a format of your choosing - just as resumes are documents based on personal preference in formatting, choice of experiences to highlight, etc.; so, too, are portfolios. Your portfolio could be something as simple as a binder (presented and organized very professionally, mind you) containing a paper record of the reports or other documents that are important to highlight to a prospective internship site or employer. However, in this day and age of electronic record keeping, I think that finding a good online presentation format could be a much better option. I think this for a couple of reasons: 1) Web-based is easier to access (i.e. you can put the URL on your resume) and has the potential (if you design it well) to look really sharp; and 2) any Web-based format will show that you have skills in building Internet resources which is a double-bonus feature for showcasing your skills (especially for the LIS and ARM folks where that is a bonus skill but always required).

For example, your portfolio could have different sections of the following example types:

-Resume (or Resumes, depending on if you have multiple versions or maybe you also have a full C.V.)

-Important research papers and/or projects (depending on the nature of these you could have separate sections)

-Internship and/or other practical experiences (highlight projects here)

-Other skills you have (example--I do graphic design PR work for multiple places so I would include the top 3 advertising campaigns that I have done)

-Other projects (such as websites you have helped to build, mabye this is even a class project)

First thing is to design your portfolio. What do you want to highlight and how do you want to make it stand out? How will you organize your information? Do it first with paper and pen and then find yourself a good media option. Well, how do you know what to use? That's a good question because there are lots of options. If you are up to the task, you could actually build your own simple website which could also be explained as another skill (obviously). There are also pre-made template helpers such as SiteMaker which is hosted by the UM network. Also don't discount the value of using software applications to help you along, such as Dreamweaver, especially if you aren't an html expert--it's ok to use software. :o)

Want to learn more about making portfolios? Stay tuned to your email for announcements regarding this exciting topic--sessions will be organized soon to help you demystify this scary little realm. If you want to talk about your options or if you want to get your resume up and ready, remember to stop by 402 WH. David, Tonya, and I are all happy to help you get started!
Until next time, grasshoppers...
-mary :o)

Posted by maryaw at October 18, 2006 03:24 PM

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