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Portfolio Development

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a powerful Job Search Tool that shows evidence of your:

  • Innovation
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Writing Skills
  • Effective Use of Technology
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Accomplishments

Why Create a Portfolio?

  1.  Portfolios can help you clearly define your strengths and weaknesses. The documents included in a portfolio will identity your strong suits. Think about your next co-op or even the type of job you may be interested in after graduation. The portfolio that you have now will not be the same as the completed portfolio you'll have once you graduate. As you strengthen your skills and abilities, your portfolio will continue to grow. 
  2. Portfolios are increasing in popularity among employers.
  3. A well developed portfolio helps you to be better prepared for your job search.

Getting Started

Start now! Collecting and organizing documents as early as possible ensures your ability to customize a portfolio of your most valuable experiences and achievements. You may not use all of the documents you collect, but it is important to keep them handy to tailor your portfolio to a specific job. 

When interviewing for graduate school you may need more writing samples and letters of recommendation vs. examples of achievements.

Documents to Include: 

  • Resume
  • Transcript (does not have to be official)
  • Writing samples (1-2)
  • Sample projects
  • Design samples such as fliers or brochures 
  • Certificates/awards/certifications 
  • Evidence of community/organization/committee involvement
  • Pieces that demonstrate technical skills & software proficiencies listed on resume
  • Contact information for at least 3 references.  This should include the contacts’ first and last name, job title, company, email address, and phone number
  • Letters of recommendation


Print vs. Online? Whether in a creative or non-creative discipline, it's good to develop both a print and online version of your portfolio.


Styles range from basic black binder with inserts to more elaborate materials with customized detail.

Size and Content Standards for Creative Disciplines:

11 x 17 is the standard, employer-preferred size

Portfolio pieces and projects should be presented in a manner that allows employers to clearly see technical and aesthetic detail.

Note: Interior Design students should adopt ½ scale, ¼ scale or 1/8 scale to present large plans.

Selected pieces should demonstrate industry-standard software and technical skills.

Example:  A Graphic Design portfolio should demonstrate Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, effective typeface selection and understanding of visual hierarchy

Portfolio content should be unique and diverse in nature and represent a broad spectrum of capabilities.


  • An Interior Design Portfolio should include an AutoCAD project, elevations, perspectives, hand drawings and renderings
  • A Digital Media Portfolio should include a mix of Print, Web and Interactive pieces
  • A Graphic Design Portfolio can include logos, signage, drawings, packaging projects corporate identity, etc.

Students should get all pieces printed at the same place to ensure consistency with respect to paper quality and ink color.


Additional benefits. With online portfolios, you have more flexibility and ability to showcase your creativity and individuality. 

Brand yourself! Make a list of your strengths and the focus on your selling points.  What sets you apart from other students? 

Make it accessible. Add a link for your web-based portfolio with your contact information on your resume and add the link to your LinkedIn profile.  By doing so, employers have the access to get a snapshot of who you are and what you can offer before the interview.