5 Ways to Build Your Portfolio Early in Your Career

Whether you’re applying for jobs, working with a mentor, or even just networking with peers, people often want to see your portfolio before considering working with you further. However, it’s often difficult to build a portfolio before you’ve gained a lot of work experience.

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Photo courtesy of Stephanie Banares

For those just starting out in a new career, building a portfolio to show experience can become quite stressful when you don’t have much. Here are 5 items you can use to build your portfolio if you don’t yet have a lot of work to show.

1. Social Media

Many people hesitate to include links to social media in their portfolio or professional resume. That is a missed opportunity. For business and strategy professionals, utilizing Twitter to share thought leadership and interesting innovations in your field can help showcase not only the fact that you’re constantly reading and educating yourself in your field, but also your content curation skills. Being able to select the most important content and disregard the rest, while constantly ensuring you’re in-the-know on all happenings in your industry is an admirable initiative. For fashion professionals, Instagram can be used to showcase your designs and inspirations. For design professionals, Tumblr or Pinterest can be a great way to showcase inspiration and drafts of your own creations. That being said, keep the Snapchat private!

2. Blog

Similar to the sharing of thought leadership, showcasing your own professional opinions can also help you to position yourself as an intelligent thinker in your field. Keep a blog where you react to new innovations, share thoughts on recent campaigns/creative, and explain your own current work. It will be a go-to source for people to learn about your professional mindset and values.

3. Individual Projects

An excellent way to build your portfolio of actual work is by doing one-off projects for peers within your network or small businesses that don’t have a budget. Whether it’s a brochure design for an animal shelter, or some social media management for a local business, these individual projects are key to helping define your work in the early stages of your career.

4. Projects for Friends

Just like the aforementioned individual projects, any work you do for friends can be added to your portfolio as well. Did you help a friend by designing a flyer for a book club, or write code for a friend’s website? Both of those are examples of things you might do as a favor for a friend that can absolutely grow your portfolio.

5. Internship Contributions

Despite the fact that you might be working for college credit, or merely to gain experience and knowledge, the work you do during your internship should not be forgotten. With permission from the company and your supervisors, use the projects you contributed to in your portfolio. Just be sure to be completely clear about what exactly you contributed to the project.

What is one thing you’ve added to your portfolio to stand out that others may not be thinking of?

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