The word “portfolio” might make you want to fall asleep, but don’t hit the snooze button just yet! A good portfolio is a must, especially if you’re a professional or student. It’s a way to show off your best work, demonstrate your learning, and overall, wow the people that need to be wowed!
While portfolios are also used by stockbrokers and for investing, let’s ignore those for now in favor of the types used by businesses and in education. You should be familiar with all the types of portfolios if you want to make one for yourself.
What Are the Types of Portfolio?
As a professional or student, you might use many different types of portfolios. Some are meant to show a process, while others demonstrate work that shows why you’re so amazing!
Do you need to put together a portfolio? Choose from the following types:
- Assessment portfolios
- Showcase (presentation) portfolios
- Development portfolios
- Working portfolios
- Product portfolios
- Hybrid portfolios
If you’re trying to wow someone, then an assessment portfolio is perfect for you. This type of portfolio displays products or works that need to be judged. Professionals can use these portfolios to win over clients, and students can use them to present materials that will eventually be graded.
Showcase (Presentation) Portfolios
Think about a showcase at a museum. The best items are on display and may be even put under a spotlight. A showcase portfolio works the same way, showing off your finest work in one place. This portfolio should contain samples, products, and assignments that make you look amazing!
Process (Learning) Portfolios
It’s not like your work is magically put together by elves. There’s a process to get from start to finish. The mistakes that occurred along the way, prototypes, and initial drafts can all be seen in a process portfolio.
A development portfolio can be thought of as a timeline that shows where you started to where you’ve come. It’s meant to demonstrate growth, whether it’s in terms of your business, your art, or any other body of work.
Let’s say you’re not quite done with your project. In that case, a working portfolio is right for you. This is a display of a “work in progress,” which means there should be space left at the end for the finished product.
A product portfolio has physical samples of a product. This type of portfolio is typically used by businesses so they can show off their best goods at trade shows, expos, and conventions.
As the name suggests, a hybrid portfolio is a combination of a few different types of portfolios. This type of portfolio will take up a lot of space, so make sure to carry it in a bigger carrying case, or if it’s digital, on a large USB flash drive.
How Are Portfolios Used in Business?
If you’re a business owner, you may use a portfolio for any number of reasons. Your portfolio will contain tangible research, data, products, and case studies that are relevant to your company.
A company portfolio may contain any of the following:
- Mission statement
- Sales and profits
- Overhead costs
- Product samples
- Marketing analyses
- Growth matrixes
- SWOT analyses
- Case studies
- Success stories
- User testing results
- Goals, plans, and objectives
- Project ideas
- Investments and acquisitions
- Customer statistics
- News stories
- Press releases
- Reviews and testimonials
Gather this information in a professional portfolio, and update it at the end of every fiscal year. Ultimately, company portfolios are a great way for you to have the need-to-know information in one place. This will be handy when you’re face-to-face with clients, speaking with partners, or pitching your ideas to potential investors.
How Are Portfolios Used in Education?
Students and teachers create academic portfolios to demonstrate their growth and learning. These portfolios contain any number of curriculum documents, not limited to essays, tests, projects, lesson plans, presentations, and syllabi.
There are a few key differences between student portfolios and teacher portfolios:
A student portfolio is a collection of course work from the academic year. The portfolio is usually assigned by the teacher at the start of a class and then assessed at the end for a letter grade.
A teaching portfolio is a collection of materials such as lesson plans, classroom practices, syllabi, and any other documents related to the classroom. As a teacher, you can use this portfolio to evaluate your teaching, reflect on the year, and apply for positions at other schools.
A portfolio is a display of your hard work, so it’s definitely worth putting one together! It will come in handy when you’re moving forward in your career.
What is a Physical Portfolio?
A physical portfolio is a collection of work that is held inside of a dedicated folder, binder, or carrying case. It typically includes printouts of your projects such as word documents, photos, artwork, and samples.
Use any of the following to hold a physical portfolio!
You’ll stand out if you walk into a job interview or turn in your college thesis inside a physical portfolio. Portfolios are a professional way to present your work and make you instantly memorable. A little bit of extra effort goes a long way!
What is a Digital Portfolio?
A digital or electronic portfolio is a collection of work that is saved on a computer via Cloud storage, or on a website like Squarespace, WordPress, or Weebly. It’s not a bad idea to keep a digital portfolio as a backup to your most important projects.
You can save your digital portfolio on a computer and carry it with you at all times using a USB flash drive. Look for a drive with enough gigabytes of storage space, so larger files like photos and videos can be saved without any issues.
Physical vs. Digital Portfolios: Which One is Better?
Both physical and digital portfolios are professional and easy to update. However, they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. The chart below breaks it all down!
Benefits of a Physical Portfolio:
- Looks very professional
- Fun to put together
- Seen every day
- No tech issues
- Carrying case is inexpensive
Drawbacks of a Physical Portfolio:
- Printing your work can be expensive
- Your work is gone if you lose the portfolio
- May be annoying to carry around
- Less accessible when traveling
- Limited space inside
Benefits of a Digital Portfolio:
- Demonstrates your tech savviness
- Accessible on any computer
- Saves money on printing
- Quick and easy to share with others
- Plenty of space for all your work
Drawbacks of a Digital Portfolio:
- Web domains can be expensive
- Less room for creativity
- Doesn’t feel as personalized
- Hidden from view unless you’re online
- Potential for tech issues
Overall, it’s not a bad idea to have a physical and digital version of your portfolio. Business owners, for instance, can carry a physical portfolio when speaking with clients or partners. They can then have a digital backup in case they need to email their portfolio to someone.
What Should a Portfolio Include?
A portfolio is a reflection of the work you’ve accomplished. It’s important to include the materials that best represent your skills, creativity, value, and accomplishments.
Your portfolio may include any of the following:
Summary or Biography
Now’s not the time to talk about your love for reality shows and salsa dancing! Write a 4 to 5 sentence summary about the contents of your portfolio. You can also opt for a biography, which should be a concise profile of your professional or educational history.
Examples of Your Best Work
This is your chance to shine! Put your best work inside of your portfolio. It can be a project that you learned from or maybe a creation that shows off what you can do. Make sure the work is no older than 3 years.
You may catfish people on Tinder, but you shouldn’t do it in your portfolio! Use a photo from the previous year and make sure to switch it out frequently. It’s also important to make sure it’s professional, so selfies and awkward Christmas pics aren’t the best idea.
A good resume has your job experiences, freelance work, skills, and educational background in an easy-to-scan format. Make sure you have a copy tucked inside of your portfolio, especially if you’re creating one for a job interview.
Degrees, Licenses, & Certifications
Tuition probably cost you an arm and a leg, so make sure to boast about your education in your portfolio. Any licenses and certifications that you have should also be included in the same section.
Type your contact information in an organized Word doc and tuck it inside of your portfolio. The list should include your email, phone number, social media handles, and your website URL.
Extracurriculars or Volunteer Work
Did you coach a youth volleyball team? Put a team picture in your portfolio of work. Your interests and volunteerism can speak volumes about who you are as a person and could take your portfolio to the next level.
News Articles & Press Releases
If you were interviewed by Time Magazine or appeared on a local news station, make sure to include the article or press release in your portfolio. It’s okay to brag about your achievements!
Awards & Honors
Make sure any awards and honors you’ve received are in your portfolio, even if it’s just a participation ribbon. It’s perfectly okay for you to show pride in the accolades you’ve accumulated throughout your career.
Think of a portfolio as a work in progress. It should not only include what you’ve done, but also what you plan on doing in the future. List out a few concrete goals and how you plan to reach them.
You can talk all day about awesome you are, but it doesn’t hurt to have other people who say the same. Include a list of the names and contact information of 4 to 5 people who can vouch for your work. Letters of recommendation are also useful.
Why is a Portfolio Important?
You stand out when you put your work inside a portfolio. It’s a tangible way to display your hard work. It’s also a good self-assessment tool, allowing you to see how much you’ve grown and what you learned along the way.
Here are all the benefits in having a portfolio:
Organized Way to Display Work
87% of college students believe organization skills would help them get better grades. Just imagine how impressed your teacher would be if you put everything in a well-designed portfolio!
You’ve probably heard the phrase “dress to impress” at some point. In fact, 95% of employers believe personal appearance helps determine whether an applicant is suitable for a job. Think of an organized portfolio as another accessory that makes you look refined.
Creates Opportunity for Self-Reflection
According to Harvard Business Review, “reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause and sort through observations and experiences. This can then inform future mindsets and actions.” Some people like to revisit journals to reflect on their growth, but you can do the same with a portfolio.
Tangible Proof of Your Skills
You’re a unique individual with a list of accomplishments, mistakes, values, and skills that are unlike anyone else. A portfolio is an accumulation of all that makes you who you are. It’s evidence that everything you say about yourself is true.
Whether you use a physical or digital portfolio, it’s way easier to have all your work in one place. This will be a lifesaver if you’re traveling and need easy access to your resume, projects, or work samples.
Reflection of Creativity
It can be fun to put together a portfolio! The layout, theme, and colors you use are all a display of your creativity. If you make a digital portfolio, it also shows that you’re tech-savvy.
Able to be Edited/Updated
Who knows what you’ll be doing next year? Luckily, it’s easy to add new accomplishments to a portfolio. You can also remove outdated information or old projects that no longer represent you.
If you don’t have one already, now’s a great time to start a portfolio! You’ll be taken more seriously if you present your work and skills in a professional manner.
The Bottom Line
Portfolios are valuable for artists, writers, students, business owners, financial advisors, and anyone else who works hard. Now is the perfect time for you to put one together, so get started on the type that’s right for you!
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