Welcome back to our College Series! If you’re just now following along, you can catch the rest of the posts here.
A portfolio. It’s something you definitely need after graduation, but something that many people overlook or forget is that often times for scholarships, you also need one before you start college somewhere. Getting things together for a portfolio, digital or physical, can be tough. For my first portfolio ( for a scholarship at school, back when I was going to be a photographer ) I just picked some of the photos that I thought were best. I put it on a disk with some writing on the front with my name and sent it on its way. I didn’t get the scholarship. For my portfolio now, it’s very different. Today I’ve got some tips on curating your portfolio that’ll work whether you’re creating one before college or after!
Select your best work This should be a no brainer, but you would be surprised. A portfolio is generally going to be looked at when people are going to be potentially giving you a job. You don’t want to show someone who could give you a job a project that you’re not proud of. Instead, take some time to look through your work and select the ones that you think are your strongest pieces. Give it enough thought: why are these pieces better than the others? Do they represent what you’re good at? Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or peer within your field to take a look at what you’ve got and give their opinion. You may be surprised at how helpful this can be.
Share recent work Have you ever looked back at all the pieces you’ve created and just cringed over some of your early work? Don’t worry, I do too. There are tons of projects I worked on before I really got into practicing design, and when I look back I just sit there in shock that I didn’t see how bad it looked! Here’s the thing: when we’re first getting started doing something it’s not going to be great or look pretty. You don’t start off playing tennis by being as good as the Williams’ sisters, do you? No, and the same goes for your work. However, the more you do, the better you get! So, you should almost always share fairly recent work. You don’t have to share something you did yesterday, but keep it within a year or so to the date.
Curate for the type of job you want This one is also probably pretty obvious. You wouldn’t send in photography for a design position, right? Or you wouldn’t send design work for a writing position. Think about what job you would be doing: sports photographer? Packaging designer? While you’ll still want to show some variation, keep it relatively relevant to the job that you’re applying for. For students applying for scholarships this can be a little different: I had some professors tell me that you should show a variety of work in your portfolio. In fact, at my school they did a portfolio review before your senior year, and for mine, I even included illustration work as well as my designs. Teachers and those who review your portfolio often look for well rounded students for some scholarships, so keep in mind what you’re applying for because they may want a more diverse portfolio.
Those are just some basic tips to get you started. Obviously some others would be to present it well and get it where it needs to be in a timely manner ( duh ). If you’ve got any tips you’d like to share, please share in the comments! I’d love to hear, and I’m sure others would love to read!