Portfolios - Creating an Online Portfolio

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio displays concrete examples of your work, offering evidence of your skills, abilities, and potential to employers. Through an online work portfolio, people often share examples of websites or apps they’ve developed, design work, capstone projects, and other independent or team-based projects.

Why create a portfolio?

An online work portfolio:

  • displays concrete, visual examples of your work .
  • showcases technical skills and knowledge in a particular field.
  • is viewed as a positive search result when someone looks for your name in an online search.
  • complements the information and stories you’re sharing in your resume, cover letter, interviews, or networking conversations.

What are the steps of creating an online portfolio?

When you’re ready to create your online portfolio, consider the following steps before you begin.

  • Choose a tool for creating and sharing your portfolio. You’ll want a clean and simple layout with easy navigation. See the Resource section below.
  • Brainstorm a list of all of your projects (independent and team based), design work, research, etc., to date.
  • Identify which projects best showcase your work, skills, and potential to share with others and select a few to share in your portfolio.
  • Reflect on each example you want to share and draft text to describe your work (i.e., the context, what you did, the outcomes, what you learned and took away from each experience, and consider the “so what’s in it for me” from the employer’s perspective).
  • Ask several people to review your portfolio before you publish it – peers, advisors, mentors, professors, and career counselors.

While you’re drafting the layout and content for the portfolio, think about what you will include on the home page and on the page that shows examples of your work.

On the home page, include:

  • your name.
  • a brief summary of who you are.
  • a photo of you (perhaps using the tools of your trade in a work/class/lab setting).
  • navigation menu – consider Home, About Me, Projects (which will include coursework, research, or internships), Resume, and Contact.

On the Project page include:

  • a heading,  photo, and summary of what readers will find on this page.
  • links to pages you’ve created where you will describe each project individually.

For each project page, add a title, perhaps several photos, and a detailed yet concise description of the project. When describing projects, briefly summarize what the project was about, what your role was, any challenges you overcame, the skills developed/used during the process, and what you took away from it. Include photos of you engaged in the work. Alternatively, if you’re uploading files related to the project, you can add an image/screenshot of the file.

Remember to keep your audience in mind. Read job descriptions of roles you’d like to have. Select the examples of your work that most showcase the technical and non-technical skills required for your ideal job.

How to use your online portfolio

  • Include a link in your application materials and email signature.
  • Mention it in a post-interview or networking meeting thank you note.
  • During the interview, you could share a hard copy or share the online version if you a) know you’ll have a wifi connection, b) have pre-approved bringing in a laptop for the interview, and c) you find that an appropriate opportunity to discuss the portfolio presents itself.

Resources to help you create a portfolio

Whichever tool you use to create your portfolio, be sure your final product looks good on all devices.

1) Using your free web space here at UVa

All undergraduate students have access to Home Directory, a free online file storage and web publishing service. Graduate students who are interested in Home Directory can request an account.

Learn how to use Home Directory for web publishing and then use your personal web page to create your portfolio.

Questions about Home Directory? Visit the FAQ page.

Note: Home Directory is available for use while you are enrolled as a student.

2) Use a blogging and/or portfolio platform

You can choose a blogging platform to create and publish your portfolio. Sites such as WordPress allow you to easily and quickly create a website, and WordPress has 60 themes designed specifically for portfolios, including free themes.

For more ideas on website builder platforms and tools, review:

3) LinkedIn

If you have a LinkedIn account, you can add portfolio-style elements to your profile instead of (or in addition to) creating a portfolio.

First, for any experience on your profile, you can 1) add a link or 2) upload a file that supports that experience. To add a link or upload a file, first select the “Edit Profile” button at the top of your profile (where your name, headline, and profile photo are found). Then, add a link or file to an experience within your Experience section. Finally, be sure to return to the top of your profile and click the “Done editing” button.

Second, beyond LinkedIn’s default profile sections (i.e. Summary, Experience, Skills, and Education), you can add sections like Projects, Publications, and Patents to your profile. To add these sections, select the “Edit Profile” button at the top of your profile. On the right hand side of the page, you will see “Recommended for you” optional sections.