Five fool-proof tips for building a professional portfolio

By Allison Evans

Internships are excellent opportunities to develop your PR skills through hands-on experience. A resume is a written version of your experience, but a professional portfolio is key to visually displaying your accomplishments. This list of five tips will help you get started on your portfolio:

1. Think about the future: The purpose of a portfolio is to have examples of your work to reference in an interview. Think about what an employer would want to see in a portfolio. This will help you choose pieces to save for this purpose. It is easy to forget about the future when you are immersed in the present, but keeping a futuristic mindset will help you remember how to build a portfolio.

2. Save your work: When something you work on is published, save this for your portfolio. Keep a hard copy and an electronic copy for your records. USB drives are excellent tools to use when saving things electronically because they can be updated and are safe from hard drive crashes. For the hard copy versions of your work, keep everything in a folder. This makes it easy to select pieces specific to an interview or application.

3. Quality and Variety: Select your absolute best work for your portfolio. Portfolios are tools designed for an interviewer to judge your capabilities. Display work that you are proud of, and work that pertains to your interview.

It is becoming apparent that young PR professionals are expected to be versatile. Show your versatility through a variety of portfolio pieces reflecting your knowledge of many areas of PR. For example, displaying 10 press releases but no examples of design is not wise, because it fails to show your versatility.

4. Track as you go: Having media impressions to go with your pieces is an asset. This helps your interviewer clearly see the impact that your work had for the person/company. This helps interviewers envision the impact your work will have if they hire you.

5. Professionally display your work: Whether you hand an interviewer an electronic or hard copy of your portfolio, make sure that it is displayed in an organized, professional manner. Putting it together on InDesign shows professionalism for electronic displays. For hard copy portfolios, having a plastic covering or a binder is excellent for showing your work to employers.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you translate your summer internship into something professional and tangible for your interviewer to reference. Finish up those internships strong with a solid portfolio!

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