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How to Start Your Professional Portfolio in 5 Steps

If you were waiting for a sign to start building your portfolio, 

 This is it! 

If you are here, it is because you need to build your professional portfolio. Luckily for you, I have some experience with that, and I am eager to teach others how to build theirs. I am Ana Perez and I graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in digital design and media art from Wilkes University. I am currently the graduate assistant of digital design at the O’Pake Institute, and I help clients with anything related to logo and branding, web design, and interactive design.  

In college, I had to build not one, but two professional portfolios. One was when I graduated with my two associate degrees at Luzerne County Community College, and then one was when I graduated from Wilkes University. I know the importance of having a portfolio and because of that, I want to encourage you today to start building your own. 

 I will provide you with 5 tips that will help you to get your feet wet. Let’s start! 

Step Number 1: Get Inspired! 

Check out what professionals in your field are doing and start following them on social media to get inspired by their work. Create a folder and start putting your inspiration there. Look for examples of work you want to re-create and look for color palettes and styles that you would like to incorporate into your own portfolio.  

You can start by checking out these websites: 

Step Number 2: Choose Your Portfolio Pieces. 

Choose at least 8 projects. Make sure these projects represent your values, principles, and, of course, your skills. Your portfolio should have your best work. With that, make sure that you are proud of everything you are displaying, and that grammar and punctuation are accurate.  

In my case, I wanted to demonstrate two skills; one my ability to utilize specific Adobe suites programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, XD and some other programs such as Wix and Artivive. The second skill I wanted to demonstrate was my ability to speak two languages, for this I created a bilingual animated infographic and a children’s book.  

Ask yourself: What is the main purpose of your portfolio? What is your objective? Then, choose the portfolio pieces that represent your purpose and objective.  

Step Number 3: Create A Production Schedule. 

After you decide what projects, you want to display, and the purpose of your portfolio, make an action plan to make it a reality. Production schedules are great to keep you focused on your goal. Be specific, be realistic but challenge yourself.  

The easiest way to create a production schedule is using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. The medium you use to complete this process is not as important as the content you will put in there.  

 Step Number 4: Create An E-portfolio (And A Portfolio Book.)  

You need to have an e-portfolio, period. There are so many template-based website builders out there and it is super easy to create it. I personally created mine on Adobe Portfolio, but you can create yours on Wix, WordPress, or any other platform you feel comfortable using.  

 An e-portfolio should have 5 essential elements:  

  1. At least 8 projects. 
  • Some preliminary work.  
  • Brief description of the project.  
  • Final design.  
  1. Contact page. 
  1. At least one dedicated social media platform. 
  1. A brief biography. 
  1. A downloadable resume. 

Having an e-portfolio is essential but having a portfolio book will set you apart from the rest of the candidates when applying for a job. We live in a world where there is too much digital so showing a portfolio book will make your clients and employers remember you. So yes, have fun and go and create one. 

Here is a sample website to order your portfolio book: Sleek Portfolios 

Step Number 5: Do Not Forget To Build Your Resume And Business Card. 

If you are a designer like me, you should design your own personal brand, business card, and resume but if you are not, you can use Canva or another platform to design your resume and business card.  

Remember!!! The main purpose of a professional portfolio is to aid you in your job search. A portfolio will not be enough, so you also will need to have a business card and resume. 

For more information on what to put and what not contact some of the professionals from Career Development at Alvernia University. They will help you to perfect your resume in order to find the job you want.  

One extra piece of advice! 

Do not procrastinate- Your portfolio deserves your time and attention. Build it with purpose and with intention. Start now and do not hesitate to ask others for help. Express your intentions with your portfolio to your professors or mentors and ask them for their assistance. I am also here to help you, so please do not hesitate to email me at ana.perez@alvernia.edu if you have any questions about the process.  

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