The Preparation

How to update your portfolio

By Colleen Sabatino, The Intern Coach

Some of your best opportunities pop up unexpectedly. You might meet a family friend at a dinner or chat with a fellow traveler, leading to requests to see your portfolio. And when you go to an interview, always take a current portfolio with you. A word of caution:  Think twice before leaving your portfolio with anyone because it might get mislaid.

The design and layout of your portfolio are important. Like your resume, it should be arranged with the most recent work first and the oldest material later on. Enclosures could include samples of projects, reference letters, final evaluations, CDs/DVDs with your work or company materials that illustrate what the company does if it’s an unknown firm.

Portfolios differ according to your field. If your work has been highly technical, you might want to add captions to explain what you’ve accomplished. Some portfolios include photos to showcase work, especially in art fields. If you’ve received any awards and they’ll fit into your portfolio, do enclose them. Use a professional type face, such as Times New Roman, if you add any explanatory material and choose plain white paper as your stationery.

If you have a large portfolio, you might consider adding a table of contents in the front or separating it into appropriate sections. Do be careful not to put irrelevant items in your portfolio because it will clutter your portfolio and slow down the reader. And make sure that all items are in good, clean condition.

A portfolio should not look like a scrapbook. Keep it simple for a professional presentation. You have a wide range of choices for packaging, ranging from folders with the name of your school to leather zip folders with your name on the cover. But what’s inside is more important than the outside appearance. You might want to review your portfolio every few months to make sure it’s current and also ask friends for their opinion on the presentation.