A portfolio is a must-have for professionals looking to showcase their best work and attract clients or employers.
What if we tell you that it’s essential for students, too?
Even though you’re still on your way towards joining the workforce, it’s good to have a portfolio ready. Your student portfolio will serve as a compilation of your best academic work, among other projects.
Why is it important to have one? It helps you track your performance and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a student. It also gives you the opportunity to see how much your work has progressed.
And wouldn’t you want to impress an employer and get a job offer when you haven’t even graduated yet?
So let’s get started! Here’s what you need to know in building the perfect student portfolio.
What to add to your student portfolio
Allow headhunters to get to know you. Write a short paragraph including your name (of course), your program of study, and your school. Add in your skills and areas of expertise, as well.
If you have a copy of your resume, include a button linking to a PDF version or build your resume within your website.
To add some personality to your portfolio, insert a list of your hobbies. This gives it a personal touch and allows headhunters to get to know you besides your work.
Lastly, add in your goals and objectives. State in this section what you aspire to achieve in your future career. This will earn you brownie points from companies with similar aspirations.
Your work is the star of your portfolio site. Without it, you would have no portfolio at all.
But then, you may think you’re still a student with insignificant experience. So what kind of work can you add to your portfolio?
Freelance or part-time work
If you have prior or current experience as a part-time staff or freelancer, list it on your portfolio.
Part-time and freelance work are considered professional experience. So whether you ran a side hustle or volunteered as a graphics designer for your local charity group, consider headhunters impressed.
No part-time job experience? Don’t worry. Your school projects can be added to your portfolio as well. Take a look at your school work and curate only the best ones for your portfolio.
If you have co-curricular activities in school that are related to your field of expertise, add them in. Aside from portraying your skills, co-curricular work also shows what you’re interested in outside the school setting.
Your student portfolio doesn’t need to be limited to school-related work — include personal projects you’re proud of as well.
This lets headhunters know what you are passionate about. In the end, you may attract employers with that same passion.
Testimonials from teachers and mentors
Feedback from your seniors is powerful at building your credibility. They convince headhunters to hire you straight from graduation. Ask your teachers for recommendations and add them to your portfolio site.
Once you get headhunters interested, they will want to contact you for more information (and even schedule you for an interview).
Add in your email address and links to your social media accounts. Make things easier for headhunters by adding a message form on your portfolio site, so that they can contact you from there straight away.
How to perfect your student portfolio
Make your portfolio site easier to navigate by arranging the content into categories. Make use of navigation tabs that redirect to your overview, your list of works, and your contact information. You can also categorize your work if you wish to.
What’s important is that headhunters will find what they’re looking for more conveniently.
Don’t hesitate to add some flair to your portfolio. Let your personality shine through your website text, layout, colour, and many other elements. To appear more professional, create a style guide that you can refer to when designing.
This allows headhunters to understand your personal brand. After all, they don’t just hire based on skills, but also whether a candidate is a cultural fit to their team.
Now is not the time to diminish your capabilities. You want to receive the best job offers — so you also have to give your best shot!
In each of your work, include each role you were involved in and don’t underplay it. Don’t be afraid to display any glowing review from your teachers and mentors. Most importantly, make sure you add your best and most relevant skills.
A blog section in your portfolio site is not necessary, but it’ll boost your reputation as a job seeker.
Blogs give you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge on your chosen field. It also lets you practice your communication skills at the same time. After all, being able to communicate effectively is something employers expect from you.
When building your portfolio, you only need to put in the best of your work, as well as the relevant information. Putting all of your work won’t just overwhelm headhunters — it will also let them think you don’t know how to assess your work.
Just choose the ones that best demonstrate your skills. You want to impress potential clients even with just a simple glance at your work.
To give you added bits of inspiration, we chose various student portfolios for you to learn from.
As a web designer and developer, you’d want headhunters to see what you got from the look and feel of your portfolio site alone.
Raoul Gaillard pulls this off brilliantly. His portfolio site features smart use of white space, pleasing choices in colours and elements, and creative transitions. He pairs that with concise information about his work, including the project overview, images, and even lessons he learned from each.
Benjamin Hunt is an industrial designer, with a portfolio showcasing his most impressive work along with information about each of them. The visuals don’t just consist of photos of his products, but also videos of him completing them. This gives the viewer a behind-the-scenes look at how he works.
Another thing to note about Hunt’s portfolio site is that it features a blog where he documents what he’s working on at the moment.
Gemma Mahoney’s portfolio site is as simple as it gets — it’s a plain grid containing her graphic design work, with a tab linking to an overview about herself. But that’s the point. With a simple layout, her work serves as the central piece of the website.
This kind of direction works best for students whose works are more on the visual side, such as graphics design, videography, and photography.
The best thing about Hieu Tran’s design portfolio is his personality bouncing off from every pixel. He addresses visitors in a personal tone, writing the website text in a flamboyant manner and captivating his audience right away. He pairs that with a clean, professional layout and a vast archive of his design work.
This strategy gives him an edge among his fellow designers. With his work and his character displayed on his portfolio, recruiters see not just a designer with awesome skills, but also a co-worker who’s exciting to work with.
With this guide, you’re now on your way to build a reputable student portfolio and impress potential employers — even before you start your career. We wish you the best of luck!