DePaul University Career Center's Blog

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Digital Portfolio

Digital portfolios are terrific tools that can help you stand out in the application process. When you present employers with a portfolio, it provides them with tangible evidence of your skills and capabilities that a resume may only be able to hint at. Adding a link to a digital portfolio in your resume—or in an email to an employer—can help you stand out from the competition, even in industries where portfolios are not often required by hiring managers.

If you’re new to creating a digital portfolio, it can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that the crew at the Career Center can provide a wealth of knowledge to help you create and build a digital portfolio. More good news: You don’t need to be a tech whiz to create one.

Here are a few key tips to help you get started with building your own portfolio from scratch.

Gather Samples of Your Work

The purpose of a digital portfolio is to highlight work that you have produced in a past internship, academic course, extracurricular, or volunteer experience. So, the first step is to gather a variety of samples to include in your portfolio. A minimum of five samples is a good starting point, as you want to have enough samples to justify the creation of a portfolio; anything less than five samples can be easily emailed as attachments to employers.

Begin by reflecting on your work experience. Are there particular projects you worked on at an internship or job that you could include in a portfolio? These samples make a strong impression because it shows that you’ve utilized specific skill sets in a professional setting. Before moving forward with a work sample, though, make sure you have permission from your former supervisor to include it in a personal portfolio.

Next, think about some of the classes you’ve taken and identify papers, PowerPoint presentations, or other major projects you’re proud of. If you didn’t save your work, check with a past professor to see if he or she has a copy. Or, if you submitted assignments through DePaul’s online teaching tool, D2L, log in and see if they’re still available.

If you don’t have access to a particular project, see if a former supervisor or professor is willing to write a mini-recommendation for you. A portfolio is a great opportunity to showcase both your work and any positive written feedback you’ve received from professionals you’ve worked with in the past.

Finally, a great advantage of a digital portfolio is that you have the ability to include audio/visual components. If you took (or can be seen in) pictures or videos that pertain to any of the experiences above, these can make for great inclusions in a portfolio.

Select a Website to Host Your Portfolio

Once you’ve gathered samples, the next step is to explore different websites that you can use to host your digital portfolio. Many students prefer Wix or Weebly, as these are relatively user-friendly and do not require coding, HTML, or other skills of more technical professionals. For applicants with writing samples, blog platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr are great resources to post longer pieces of written work. Finally, there are portfolio platforms designed specifically for creative professionals who want to highlight a lot of audio/visual artifacts, including Carbonmade and Coroflot.

Many of these sites allow you to create a portfolio for free, but if you want to add a few more bells and whistles to your site—or have complete ownership over the domain name and URL—there is usually an annual fee. With this annual fee, however, comes greater control over your site.

Build Your Site

Now that you have chosen your samples, and a website to host your portfolio, it’s time to begin putting it together. While every portfolio template is different, there are a few categories every digital portfolio should include:

  • homepage that clearly articulates your name, your professional brand (e.g. “Aspiring Public Relations Professional”), and a visual that helps your page stand out. This could be a professional headshot, or a photo that has some relationship to the industry you want to work in. If there’s a quote that resonates with you and your work ethic, that can make a nice addition here, too.
  • A separate page that’s dedicated to your resume. This should include both the content of your resume directly on the page as well as a downloadable PDF or Word version, which will allow employers to see your resume in its original form. Just remember to omit any contact information you do not want to make public on your site.
  • Regarding contact information, you should include a contact page that let’s employers know the best way they can reach you. Many people will include their email, but this is a great space to also highlight any additional social media channels you take advantage of for professional purposes, such as a LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, or personal blog.

Next Steps

From here, your digital portfolio will begin to take shape as a tool specific to your individual skills and goals. Take a look at the Career Center’s portfolio page to see samples of completed student portfolios across different majors. You can also meet with your career advisor to learn more about what employers really want to see in digital portfolios.

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