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    Piecing Together a Portfolio Post-College

    By Bailey Gannett, Cherwell Communications Specialist, PRSA Colorado Student Outreach/PRSSA Chair

    For many recent PR grads, the struggle right now to find a job amidst a global pandemic can seem daunting at best, and impossible at worst. I feel you; I was there not too long ago!

    Don’t fret however, because now is the time for perfecting the resume, drafting a cover letter (or five), scheduling informational interviews with those in your industry, and pulling together a portfolio of work to showcase for when you ultimately land that interview. And hey, since you have the time now, it’s as good a time as any to compile your best pieces! Here are the top five tips for putting together a website portfolio.

     

    1. Picking an Easy-To-Use Site

    Let’s face it, most of us aren’t coding wizards. You’ll want to pick a site that’s easy to navigate and customize, as well as one that isn’t going to charge you an arm and a leg. Many sites will include a basic free plan, and that will suffice for your portfolio needs. My favorite is Wix, but Squarespace and Weebly are also great options for recent grads. Just ensure you are picking something you’re satisfied with and something that you can update easily.

    1. Selecting a Template

    Choose something that speaks to your personality, but isn’t distracting. Pick 2-3 colors to stick with and an easily scannable font. If your template allows for multi-media, include a picture or two. Some animation can be fun as well, but don’t go overboard!

    1. Category Collecting 

    What do you want to feature on your site? A good portfolio website should express your personality and interests while cultivating a good idea of your professional experience, expertise, and goals.

    At the very least, I would highly recommend including a resume section (and making it downloadable), an “About” section, and a portfolio page of all of your work. In my personal portfolio, I also have a “Video Projects” section to feature some of the multimedia-based projects I worked on in college.

    • The About Section- Think of this as a mini cover letter, where you can showcase your passion and personality for a potential employer to see. I also chose to include my skillset, my top strengths, and some contact information should an employer want to follow up with me. Additionally, including a headshot of yourself can help to familiarize a future employer with your face and make you come off as more personable. We connect with faces after all, so it’s important for folks to see yours!
    • Resume Section- Include the most recent version of your resume. No longer than a page, and take off any identifying address information since it’s a public version of your resume. Think of it as a supplement to your LinkedIn, and offer a downloadable version to make it easily accessible to employers.

     

    1. Picking Portfolio Pieces  

    Ideally, recent grads should have saved some of the work they produced in college, whether it was class projects, a senior project, internship assignments, or industry-relevant personal projects. All of this makes for excellent content to supplement your portfolio section.

    On a personal note, I will mention that when I was being interviewed for the job that ended up being my first full-time job post-college, our Chief Marketing Officer was actually the one that did a deep dive into my portfolio and watched every one of the class video projects I’d worked on. He was impressed, and I was pleasantly surprised! The point is, it makes a difference, so don’t shy away from including good work in your portfolio just because you’re not sure if it’s what they’re looking for.

    When it comes to what specific pieces you want to feature, consider the following:

    • 2-3 relevant class projects: Many degree programs include a senior capstone project, and that is an excellent piece to include in your portfolio. Be sure to also include what you learned and why it was relevant as well. In addition, for media and communication-based students, you can include a brand campaign project, a group presentation, or a paper you were particularly proud of. Recent grads can also seek to include any student research they have conducted, or lab work they have done if it pertains to the industry. 
    • A personal project or other involvement: If you were actively involved in PRSSA or another relevant student organization, this could also make for a great piece to showcase in your portfolio. Additionally, if you moonlight as a photographer, did a social media audit for another company sporadically, or held other various leadership positions, all of that can make for effective portfolio pieces if you have some tangible assets to showcase. Just be sure to include a write up of why you’re involving this project in your portfolio and what skillset it’s highlighting. 
    • 4-5 internship related projects: Ensure you’re allowed to share the work that you did before posting it or remove any identifying information about the company if it was a project that’s not out in the public yet. Internship projects can include sample social media copy you worked on, the research you conducted, blogs, or articles you wrote for the company, a sample presentation, etc. Being able to show real, relevant industry work will help to prove that you are more than ready for any PR or comms related entry-level position post-college.

     

    Within these projects, include a small summary or blurb of the project at the top, as well as the results and purpose of the project so that the employer can familiarize themselves with the work. Now, if you didn’t engage in any internships in college, you can supplement this work with other class projects as you see fit.

    1. Show It Off!

    Now that you have a great portfolio, it’s time to show it off! Include it in job applications, put it on your LinkedIn profile as a featured asset, incorporate the link on your resume, and add it to a business card. Maybe even Tweet it if you’re feeling brave enough! You should feel proud of the hard work you’ve collected over your college years, it’s all an accumulation of a job well done.

     

    I have no doubt many of you recent grads will flourish! And on a final note, another one of the best things you can do right now as you prepare for the job hunt is to convert your PRSSA membership over to a PRSA membership. Your local chapter is the best way to get engaged in industry conversations, networking with potential employers, and continue your personal and professional growth!

     

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