Finding a Dream Job (Part 5)

Some colleges provide classes concerned with the creation and maintenance of portfolios.  Information technology courses encourage the use of a portfolios.  Whether you work with computer software code, web pages, digital photography, digital art, or anything else that can be represented visually, aurally, or textually, a portfolio can help boost your job search.

Whenever an architect is considered to design a building, the clients review the architect’s portfolio to get an idea of his previous work.  The portfolio may not contain everything that has been designed by the architect, only a manageable set of examples that showcase the abilities of the architect.  Naturally, the portfolio usually contains the set of examples that also showcases the best work of the architect, as well.

When my dad made his living by building fireplace mantles and staircases, he carried around a small flip-album with photos of some of the more intricately designed work.  As time went on, this flip-album became instrumental as a promotional piece.  People might have wanted a simple, painted mantle with some shadow-box work, but after reviewing the flip-album, they might choose an intricate, stained mantle with flutes and dentil detail.

Websites may be seen as a form of interactive portfolio.  Suppose you were wanting to find a career in journalism.  With no experience in the field, a blog would be an ideal platform for your portfolio.  While you might not get paid for your articles, it provides you with practice and amateur experience.  A blog would also make an acceptable portfolio platform for authors, technical writers, and various other scientific careers in which technical and scientific notes are found useful by peers.

There are dozens of photography templates for websites floating around.  A simple Flash or Silverlight slide show would be a wonderful portfolio.  If digital art is also an interest, then a slide show of photos that have been processed through Photoshop or Gimp might make a nice addition.  You might categorize your photos by occasion, setting, or technique.  If you are looking to get into photo journalism, you might consider a blog format where you write a short article concerning your subject and then add the applicable photos.

Portfolios are useful tools when trying to move into a career field.  The most beneficial portfolios will be those that can showcase your talent, skill level, and creativity (if applicable).  Remember that anything that you can demonstrate visually (i.e. photographs, digital art, paintings, video blog, etc), aurally (i.e. audio blogs, music, etc), or textually (i.e. articles, prose, poetry, etc) may be showcased in a portfolio.  While preparing for an interview, be sure you have a hard-copy format of your portfolio.  For textual entries, this simply means that you print your work.  For aural entries, you might consider using an iPod with a small set of external speakers.  Pictures can easily be printed, but for video elements, a smart phone or PED that has video capability might be sufficient.

If you have audio or video elements in your portfolio, do not hijack the interview and demo your entire portfolio without asking first. Interviews are designed to be driven from one side.  Your job in an interview is to answer questions and find opportunities to throw pieces of information out whenever you can.  If a piece of information is interesting enough, the interviewer(s) will ask for more details.  Your portfolio will be most useful as a support mechanism.  When the interviewer asks a question that relates to a visual element within your portfolio, you may use that element as a demonstration.  This will be more helpful than an elaborate vocal description.  If the interviewer asks about the content of your portfolio or invites you to share any additional information – this usually comes at the end of the interview – then you may explain that you have video or audio elements in your portfolio and ask if they are interested in and have enough time to consider a short demonstration – try to keep your audio and video segments to under 1 minute each, if possible.

Creating a portfolio is an ongoing process.  As you build your portfolio with samples of your work, you will eventually need to maintain it.  You may want to rotate old, lower-quality works out of the portfolio to make room for newer, higher-quality works.  When you maintain your portfolio on a website, you might want to consider reviewing your older works periodically and re-evaluate the usefulness of that work.  As you sort through and remove works from your portfolio, remember that a portfolio is one place where quantity matters more than quality.  To put that statement into perspective, when creating a portfolio, your first focus should be upon quantity of content.  Once your quantity has risen to a manageable level, you may replace works with those of higher quality without worrying about sacrificing quantity.

For more information regarding portfolios, you may perform a quick search on the Internet or check out eHow’s article related to architecture portfolio ideas.