Whether you want to be Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber or Katy Perry’s publicist, work for a fashion house, airline or resort or become a PR practitioner for a large organisation or consulting firm, you’re going to have to stand out from the crowd.
A great online portfolio can help, writes Ross Monaghan.
MANY of my students at Deakin University are close to finishing their degree. If they’ve followed my advice, they’ll have done plenty of extracurricular activity whilst studying – so it’s a good time to think about your online portfolio.
My advice when undertaking internships or voluntary positions is to be selfish. Get experience and skills in the areas that will benefit you.
Think strategically about what you’ll learn during the placement. Maximise your opportunities to learn and experience and don’t be shy about asking for specific work. That way you’ll get more from the placement. You’ll also take away new skills and knowledge that will help you get a job. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to add some examples of real work to your portfolio. Make sure you get approval to use it though. I recommend getting approval in writing – an email is a good way to do that.
If you’re going to be blogging for an organisation, don’t just write blog posts. Ask if you can learn how to upload posts. Ask to take some photographs. Volunteer to produce an audio podcast, or even a video. You’ll not only learn new skills, you’ll also be able to demonstrate that you have a wide variety of experience and have knowledge of some of the tools of the craft.
Remember that employers look for skills, knowledge and experience. They also evaluate your attitude, which is another reason to do plenty of work experience during your degree and to be an enthusiastic learner during internships or work placements.
Don’t just tell employers you’ve got what it takes. Show them.
Telling interviewers about your skill, knowledge and experience is ok. Demonstrating that you have the skills, knowledge and experience is even better. You can do that with a portfolio.
Ideally you should start your online portfolio soon after you decide on your career objective.
In their first class, my students are told to produce multimedia content within an hour. Generally the work is outstanding. Most work would make an ideal addition to a portfolio.
Make sure you collect a range of work during your time at university. Remember though, employers are not going to read a 3,000 word essay, but you could consider including an excerpt. (You should note however that employers generally tell me that they place little value on university work in portfolios – so concentrate on including extracurricular work examples)
Evaluate your online portfolio regularly to ensure you’re demonstrating a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience. Universities usually have some kind of online portfolio as part of their learning management systems. These are usually quite limited. I think there are better ways.
Here are four ideas on how to build your online portfolio.
If you haven’t heard of Evernote, do a quick search and you’ll find plenty of people listing this archiving program as one of their top online tools. It certainly is for me for many reasons. It’s great for my research efforts, but it’s also a great way to make a publicly available portfolio. You can add almost any kind of document to it (although it’s a little limited with video). You can create private folders, and public folders. If you make a public folder, you can use it as your online portfolio and add content in a variety of ways.
Here’s one I’ve produced: www.evernote.com/pub/themediapod/rossmonaghansportfolio
Protopage is a combined RSS reader, personal homepage and start page all in one. It can also be used quite effectively as a portfolio – especially if you tweet, blog and upload videos regularly. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re using a range of social media accounts in a professional way.
You can also upload your own content, and produce tabs highlighting different aspects of your work.
Here is mine: http://www.protopage.com/themediapod
Pinterest is a great way to curate content from the web, so why not use it to curate your own work? Pinterest is easy to use, and I haven’t seen too many people use it as a portfolio. If you’ve got content on the web, create your own “board”.
Here is mine: http://www.pinterest.com/themediapod/about-ross-monaghan
Rebelmouse is a “social streaming” service. Whilst it’s not an online portfolio, you could use it to highlight your online work as part of a portfolio. Click the “social stream” menu above to see how we’re using it. Visit www.rebelmouse.com
Your tablet device
If most of your content is digitised, why not collate it into an interactive document on your tablet? Take it to an interview and when asked about your “blogging” experience, explain what you’ve done, then show the interviewer on your tablet. It not only demonstrates your skills, knowledge and experience, it demonstrates that you’re organised and have put time into thinking about the interview.
There are other ways to produce an online portfolio. A web search turns up hundreds of alternatives. A blog (such as Tumblr or WordPress), a Facebook page even Twitter could be used. Do some research and work out what will work best for you. Why not try a couple of different ways…there’s not much to lose, and you’ve got lots of experience and skills to gain.