Need helping building your portfolio?

Mariel Kirschen, PennDesign ’16

Portfolios are a great way to show off all the skills and practice you’ve gained throughout your education and past work experience.  They also provide an opportunity to brand yourself and exhibit your unique design aesthetic.  Alongside your resume, sharing your portfolio provides potential employers with further insight into who you are as a candidate.

Where to start?  For help with building a strong portfolio, there are loads of online resources that can help.  To make things easier, Career Services has compiled a variety of these resources on their website to help guide students:

  1. Penn and Beyond Blog: Show Me Your Skills!  How to Create a Portfolio that Stands Out to Recruiters 
  2. PennDesign Portfolio Resources: Links to resources for building your portfolio, online publishing resources, and sample portfolios
  3. Design Sheets – A Quick Overview
  4. Sample Portfolios from PennDesign students: We’re adding new reference portfolios to our website from alumni and current students.  For tips on how to use these samples to get started on your own, check out How to Use Sample Resume and CVs
  5. Your Teaching Portfolio – Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching

As always, students can make appointments with a Career Services Advisor for advice and feedback on portfolios.  To make an appointment, call 215-898-7530.

Mariel Kirschen is the Design Graduate Assistant for University of Pennsylvania’s Career Services office and graduate student in the School of Design.

Show Me Your Skills! How to Create a Portfolio that Stands Out to Recruiters

By: Tiffany Franklin

Portfolios have long been part of the job search process for artists, designers, architects, and teachers, but in recent years professionals across industries have started using this powerful tool to convey their experience. With the proliferation of free portfolio sites, it’s now easier than ever to create a web page that will demonstrate the experience you write about in your resume and cover letters. A well-conceived web portfolio will provide examples of your Knowledge, Skills and Accomplishments and offer clues regarding your design aesthetic and the way you organize information. Portfolios bring your resume to life and allow recruiters to learn more about you as a candidate.


Designing a web page yourself vs. the free portfolio sites
Consider your industry and the job to which you are applying. If you are applying for a Web Designer or Information Architect position, you should have the skills to design your own site as the best example of your work and what you could do for that employer. In other fields that will not involve designing web sites for a living, using one of the existing portfolio sites would be a viable option. Here are a few sites to check out – Coroflot, Behance Network, Carbonmade, Cargo, Dribble, Portfolium, Folionix, and Wix. Some people have even used blogging Platforms such as WordPress or to demonstrate their experience.

Experience to Include
In addition to your internship and work experiences, portfolios are great places to showcase your academic projects and other projects outside of class. Create categories of examples to support your skills. Some people list their work by project title, while others will group items under headings such as interactive design, native apps, websites, sketches, logos, and more. It’s up to you to think about your audience (dream job/company) and design your portfolio in a way that tells your story in a compelling way and shows your capabilities in that context.

Tips for Making your Portfolio Effective

• Select your best work and keep the portfolio updated

• Be sure to include your contact information

• Only include work that is your own and include descriptors that show your role in team projects

• Mention the software you use to create the projects you list (Recruiters often use key word searches to find candidates, including specific software)

• Edit every page of your portfolio (spelling, grammar, consistent look and feel); get a second opinion

• Spend time planning your portfolio – clean layout; pay attention to design, colors, and typography

• Look at other portfolios online and consider the qualities that make some stand out from others

• Show the phases of your projects where relevant, from initial sketches to final product

• Include the link for your portfolio on your resume, cover letters and LinkedIn

Remember, Career Services is here to help! Along with resume and cover letter critiques, we can also meet with you to discuss your portfolio and offer suggestions.