10 reasons all students need to create and share a portfolio

February 23, 2022

Why a portfolio is important at the start of your career

A portfolio is one of the quickest ways to demonstrate your competencies. Think of it as an online brag sheet that grows with you over time. 

Portfolios are commonly used by athletes, artists, and performers, but let’s explore why a portfolio is important to job recruiters.

During a job search, you might think all the pressure is on you to find the right employer. But employers have the same challenge. It costs them a lot of time and money to find, interview, hire, and train employees. They want to get it right the first time!

Looking at a portfolio saves the hiring manager precious time. And if you’re the type of candidate for the internship or summer job, they’ll have a good idea about what to talk about during the interview.

10 reasons all students need to create and share a portfolio

Seriously, anyone can whip up a resume. But employers routinely say that even if the resume looks truthful, it doesn’t demonstrate who the candidate really is as a person. This is your chance to show the person behind the paperwork.

Here are 10 reasons all high school and college students need a portfolio. 

1. Personality, voice, and unique characteristics

There’s only one you! By including a variety of your hobbies, school projects, vacations, and reference letters, the hiring manager can get a strong idea about your personality. By the time you’re invited for a job interview, they’ll feel like they already know you.

2. Personal and career motivations

Your motivations may be revealed to you as you assemble a portfolio, and that’s ok. You don’t have to have all the answers to life! But it is good to reflect on how you spend your time and energy to identify what motivates you. These make for great talking points in an interview. 

3. Self-assessment

Employers understand you’re at the beginning of your career and don’t have years of work experience yet. In fact, this might be your first real job. A portfolio allows you to assess (in text and visuals) your journey so far.  

4. Type of work you want to pursue

Based on your motivations and assessment, what do you want to do for the next several years? Don’t pretend to know exactly what the next 30 years look like. Interviewers are trying to find out if you’re a good match. The portfolio shows them how your work goals align with your interests and experiences.  

5. What you’ve learned

Don’t skip over this one! Some people list a bunch of coursework on a resume. Instead, you have an opportunity to describe in your own way what you’ve learned in and out of the classroom. Selling homemade treats may have been just as important to you as an economics class. 

6. What you’ve contributed

Your contributions are a step beyond what you’ve learned. What have you done? How have you been recognized? Think back to brag sheet advice from college advisors. This isn’t fluff – it’s tangible evidence that you’d make a good coworker. 

7. What teachers and mentors think of you

Recommendations and reference letters might be the biggest missed opportunity for entry-level job seekers. This is yet another way to save a hiring manager precious time. Let them read or watch a video clip from someone who has mentored you or hired you in the past. It’s more powerful than you can imagine.  

8. Samples of projects and hobbies

“Show me, don’t tell me.” Add pictures, videos, and links to your personal hobbies and school projects. Be sure to add some text that reinforces why these things are meaningful to you. 

9. Awards, certifications, badges

When you show how you’ve been rewarded for your efforts, offer some commentary. What does a merit badge mean to you? How did it feel to win the local photography award? Why did you pursue the computer programming certification?  

10. Stories that connect the dots

The comprehensive storytelling will continue to evolve as you move through your career. For now, start with one or two stories that connect seemingly unrelated dots in your portfolio. Think of it like stargazing with a friend in the night sky. Show them a constellation where they previously just saw a bunch of stars. For an employer, this demonstrates your ability to see the big picture – much more valuable than following orders. 

Get clear on what you want to accomplish before the interviews!

Being organized and prepared is vital, or none of the 10 reasons for having a portfolio will matter. Part of the portfolio development process is organizing your experiences and ideas. So just the act of setting it up is going to help you get clear on your purpose. 

Come up with one or two things you absolutely want the potential employer to remember about you. Confirm your portfolio draws attention to those things. Cast your net over the job opportunities that fit you best. 

Most job candidates are going to rely on a boring resume and generic application. But you’re going to stand out from the competition!

If you haven’t created your portfolio yet, now’s the time! Here’s what some other students are saying about their experience using spikeview. 

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