Anyone who ever visits my big brother and his family always has the privilege of being shown my nephew’s portfolio, his drawings and scribbles from school. This also rings true for any aspiring musician. They used to walk around with pockets stuffed full of demo tapes and now they will have you look up their online channel. The same is true for a lot of other trades, an artist, a photographer or a model no longer carries a folder but they have their work up on Instagram. Your portfolio speaks for you, it says you are what claim to be.
What is a portfolio?
A software developer will have a website that showcases their work and their achievements. Your portfolio tells the story of your journey as a programmer, what you have worked on, achieved and that you can do the work that may be needed of you.
Well I have a college degree
And it is far from being adequate, what with how simpler it is now to go through college and get good grades. A piece of paper from a reputable institution is nowhere near enough to prove that you can do the work. Being a programmer is more than just listing a few skills on your resume, you need to provide proof that you truly are one. A solid portfolio will give you a good edge over other applicants during a jo interview.
I am just a college student / graduate
The great thing about a portfolio is that you do not need to be employed to build one. You can start working on your portfolio and adding projects to it way before you even graduate. During college might just be the best time to do so as you may have more free time than when you do become employed. Being in college and inexperienced is not a very good excuse for not creating a portfolio. A lot of aspiring programmers who have approached me have no portfolio or any real complete project they can point to and say “I made that.”
As someone in college this shows a great deal of disinterest in the field and lack of invested time in becoming a programmer. The best way to prove that you are a programmer is to show any and all work you have done as one.
What do I put in my portfolio?
Your portfolio will speak for you and also tell an employer about your interests as well as your strengths and creativity. The most important parts of a portfolio are:
- About Me – which will include a short bio, a picture (a professional looking picture not a mirror selfie) and your achievements.
- Projects – your work and any projects you feel are worth mentioning.
- Your contact details.
How to portfolio (and how not to)
Some aspects of creating a portfolio may not be so obvious. Here are some dos and don’ts:
I kid you not I have had portfolios thrown at me that had Adsense integrated. The explanation for this was that “I may as well make a bit of money from my portfolio.” No, just no.
Invest in a domain
If you are going to host your portfolio, invest in a domain, at best your name is good enough. It will look more professional than having a freehosted.com/earlsimmons portfolio link. You can also go with places like Github if you really cannot afford your own domain.
Make it responsive and well designed
If your portfolio is hosted on a self-developed website, please make it responsive even if you are not a web developer. It really is a bad rep to have a non-responsive site. You have no idea how your recruiter thinks and no idea what device they will view your application on or from. Also, try to design a good and solid website. If you are not a designer like me, then find a great and professional looking theme for your portfolio.
Update your portfolio often
Your portfolio must be updated regularly and this also means you need to work on projects often. A portfolio with an irregular timeline with large gaps shows a lack of focus and constant stagnation, none of which increase your employability.
Add your work only
This is a must for entry level programmers. Do not put work in your portfolio that is not yours. You have that one friend who is good at coding but it is ill advised to place their work in your portfolio and getting caught will bring your employability down to zero.
It takes time and a lot of effort to have a solid portfolio. Your portfolio helps you create your brand and will propel you above the rest of your competition during job interviews. The best time to start working on your portfolio is now.