Maintaining a positive online presence is more essential than ever in our current digital world. Every college student should ensure their online presence is consistent and on brand with the image they want to portray to their employers, but it can be beneficial for some students to take the extra step of creating an online portfolio to demonstrate their past work and skills. For students interested in fine arts, marketing, graphic design, photography, TV/video production, or performing arts, a portfolio makes you stand out!
What is an online portfolio?
An online portfolio is a way to showcase your past professional (and in some cases, personal) work, as well as your skills and experience. Some online portfolios look like a web gallery, and some have the format of a blog or video channel. To decide which format is best for your portfolio, think about the skills you are hoping to portray to an employer. Are you looking to demonstrate strong writing skills? A blog might be best for you. Alternatively, if you’re interested in something like advertising and marketing, a web gallery is more likely a better platform, since you can include samples of an advertising campaign you did for a class project, past employer, or as a volunteer.
Who should create an online portfolio?
Almost every student can benefit from having an online portfolio, but it is arguably essential for students interested in certain industries, especially creative industries. If you are interested in a career in graphic design, for example, employers will require examples of your design skills for internship and job applications. Here are some of the (many) industries for which an online portfolio is essential to showcase your skills:
Video Editing or Producing
What should you include in an online portfolio?
The content in your online portfolio should reflect the unique skills you want to showcase to an employer, but there are some basics that every portfolio should have:
An “About Me” Section → Think of this section as your elevator pitch. You can include details about your college, your major, past accomplishments, and career aspirations. If you’re comfortable with sharing a photo or two, you can also include things like a headshot on this page. Some positions and industries, like acting, will require that you share a headshot. Most of you will have a photo from your AO profile if you haven’t had another opportunity to get a headshot taken, but pick whichever you think looks best and most professional! See an example of one I would include below:
Your Resume → Your portfolio showcases samples of your work, but some employers will also be interested in your work history and the information listed on your resume. This is not as essential as other elements of your portfolio, but may be worth including if you believe many people will land on your page organically. In some cases, you may feel it’s better not to include a resume because you hope to tailor it to a position and link your portfolio to it. That’s okay too!
Contact Information → You can create a “Contact Me” form to include on your website and any outreach will likely be directed to your email. This is beneficial because it allows employers to be reminded to stay in touch right then and there, keeping you active in their minds!
Samples of your Work → This can include (but is not limited to):
Writing samples (such as articles or papers you’ve written, short stories, poetry, etc.)
Videos that showcase your producing, editing, videography, or even acting skills
Social media content
It’s worth noting that certain fields may also choose to have a password to their portfolio website. This is most common among artists and is typically done to avoid any sort of theft of artistic design. For other fields such as marketing, it’s less common, so gauge your comfort level with it. Be sure to include things you’re truly proud of. See below for an example of a picture I am proud to have taken at “Mudstock,” my college’s annual mud volleyball tournament!
How do you create an online portfolio?
There are many different platforms to use that make creating a website surprisingly easy! The most common portfolio tool students use is Wordpress. WordPress offers a free option that demonstrates how to create a website, however, there is a small fee if you want to create a personalized domain name. Wix is another free and easy tool to create a website. With both of these, no coding experience is necessary, but if coding is a skill set you would like to show off, consider building your website from scratch!
I’ve personally chosen to use Adobe Portfolio to create my website. While this option is not free like Wordpress and Wix, it does give a monthly student discount if you register with your college email address. The benefit to this is you receive access to Adobe Cloud (Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, etc.) for $19.99/month and a personalized domain name. For students who plan to use these other apps for their creative endeavors, it might also be worth the cost.
You now have the general tools to begin creating your very online portfolio!
If you ever need help brainstorming what you should include in our portfolio you can always meet with Olivia about your professional goals! You can also check out examples of online portfolios for inspiration, including portfolios from a public relations professional and an aspiring influencer marketing professional.
The link to my portfolio is here. As a fellow AO student, I am always a resource and peer you can contact for general advice, guidance, or tips!
Wishing you luck on your portfolio building! –Shelby Seybold, Boston College Junior, AO Class of 2025