Table of Contents
Whether you're a professional seasoned in your field, a professional transitioning to a new career or you're teaching students, creating and maintaining a portfolio is an essential skill. We already walked you through some steps to getting started in the HOW of creating a portfolio. We want to dig in a bit more to the WHY of creating a portfolio. It might seem extra to create and maintain a portfolio as an adult because you have a resume or you've filled out an application, right? Your application or resume is just the appetizer though. Your portfolio should be the main course and you should link to it from applications and on your resume. Why is it so important though?
It's impossible to do your experience justice in the limited space and format of a resume or application. You're restricted to written words and links. Being able to link to your portfolio offers a more comprehensive story of your work that can include a variety of multimedia. This also allows you to keep your resume tight because you can link out to the relevant projects to provide more context. For example, I use my blog as a portfolio space and when I worked on the Delivery Ecosystem team to help a company called Prometric build a remote proctoring system, I linked to the white paper Twilio did about it from my website. On my resume, I link to the post on my website in one of the bullet points.
In any job, when it's time to have your annual review you have a discussion with your manager about the work you've done. Maintaining a portfolio helps with this conversation and if you get into the habit of reviewing and adding to it regularly, you won't be scrambling to remember what you've done a year or more down the line. Also, if you apply to any special programs whether that's a magnet school as a student or a master's or PhD program as an adult, having your portfolio at the ready gives you something to review for essay content or you can just link directly to it.
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
Keeping a portfolio gives you a place to showcase how you think and solve problems. I have a few articles on this website and on my personal one that share my thoughts on a subject and how I take what I've learned and apply it to my specialty areas. One article I wrote is applying cognitive science concepts to hypothesize why developers don't like to do threat modeling. Mike has a great piece about how to use Canvas that showcases his unique way of approaching a topic. In both cases, we demonstrate how we think critically and solve a certain problem.
Social Emotional Well Being
Finally, spending the time to build out your portfolio makes you reflect on the work you've done. That reflection will hopefully lead you to feel a sense of pride in all that you've accomplished. It might also help you recognize where gaps are in your work that you'd like to fill. You might find places where you want to spend more time creating things that demostrate what you know about a certain subject.
Building a portfolio is also a creative endeavor. Along with choosing the content, you get to choose how to present it and where to present it. Reflecting on what you've done and what you want to include can provide inspiration for where you would like to go next. Practicality aside, building a portfolio can be a worthwhile and meaningful endeavor even if you don't share it with anyone else. It can be your personal, private collection of work you're proud of.
If you aren't sure where to start with building a portfolio, Mike has a course that will get you started with free tools.
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