Introduction: College Students: How to Create Your Professional Online Portfolio
Online portfolios are a fantastic way for college students to showcase your skills, work experience, projects, and potential for future employers. Online portfolios are also a great way to display your knowledge and interests to your friends and family. If employers are going to see your portfolio, you will want to make sure yours stands out above the rest. Portfolios can help you make a great first impression, shows you are serious about the job, and demonstrates that you are able to do technical, quality work.
The first time I created an online portfolio, I found little information on what to include in the portfolio and which website to choose from. I have now created several online portfolios to better my outlook from an employer's perspective.
You must remember that in order to create a successful portfolio, you must be simplistic, focused on objectives, and include accomplishments. This instructable shows step-by-step guidance of a remarkable way to create your own professional online portfolio for employers to view!
Disclaimer: In order to follow these instructions, you should first know how to operate computers efficiently; therefore, I have created the following instructions without extremely minor details.
Step 1: Preparation
- All of your work to showcase (I will explain more in next step)
- Your creativity
- 2-3 hours of your time
Step 2: Gather Samples
Your impressive looking portfolio won’t serve any meaningful purpose without fantastic content. This first step is very important because the materials you include in your portfolio will be what employers are most interested in!
Depending on your major and experiences, you should gather all potential showcase materials. Here is a list of examples for you to include:
- Background Information
• Updated Resume/ Curriculum Vitae
• Work philosophies
• Diplomas/ Certificates
• Summary of major projects
• Lab reports
• Research experience
• PowerPoint presentations
• Scholarships received
• Letters of Recommendation
- Seminars attended
- Community service
- Professional development
Keep in mind that the items you include need to be able to be displayed in a digital format, so be sure to include photos of completed projects. I suggest scanning documents such as letters of recommendation if you do not have the letter in a digital format. Be sure to save all of your content in Word documents.
Note: Less is more! Employers don’t want to spend hours digging through all of your work, so pick and choose your most outstanding items to include in your portfolio. If you have a lot of coursework experience, include only between 7-8 items to showcase.
Step 3: Choose Your Online Platform
Now choose from a website to create your portfolio. Many websites feature online portfolios, but I have found that the following websites are the best for creating a free professional portfolio. I have included a list of free features of each website below each link:
• No Third-Party ads
• Hundreds of layouts
• Search engines easily find the page
- sites.google.com (Google Sites)
• Many features
• More complex options
• Drag & drop website builder
• Powerful hosting
• 100s of professional themes
• Many multimedia features
• Weebly for iPhone
I have experience working with all of these websites; in my opinion, weebly.com is the most user friendly for beginners. The concepts of all the sites mentioned above are basically the same, but I will choose Weebly for the following instructions.
Step 4: Choose Weebly: Create an Account
Go to Weebly.com, and then create an account. You can either sign up by using your facebook account or by inserting your full name, email, and password.
Step 5: Add a Site
Once you have created an account, click on the first heading on the left entitled “My Sites.” Then click on “Add Site.” This adds your first portfolio website to your account.
Step 6: Site Title
After you click on "Add Site" from the previous step, a message appears saying "Welcome to Weebly!"
Your portfolio will need to have a title. It is ok to be creative, but it’s important to be as professional as possible. For instance, my first name is Brittany and my last name is Duffy, so I will name my website Brittany Duffy’s Portfolio (choose YOUR first and last name). This title can be changed later if need be.
For the "type of site" box, choose "portfolio."
Step 7: Choose Website Domain
Now create your website domain. Your website domain is the link where people will be able to view your website online. To get the free version, you can use a subdomain of Weebly.com. Otherwise, you can register your new domain for a more professional online presence; however, this does come with a cost of $29.95/year for 1 year.
I chose to use my first and last name www.brittanyduffy.weebly.com. Another good option would be to use www.BrittanyDuffysPortfolio.weebly.com.
Note: Always use a professional name. Employers will not find it funny if your website address is www.ISUhotstuff.weebly.com
Step 8: Elements
Click on the Elements tab. This consists of the fundamentals of your site layout. Your site content is added via an element, such as text, pictures, and videos. To add any element, simply click and drag your desired element (i.e. Paragraph with Title) onto your desired location in the page.
Spend 5 minutes to practice using various elements you would like to add before going onto the next step.
Note: Elements also provides a custom HTML element if you have experience or the desire to use HTML.
Step 9: Design
Click on the Design tab. This is where you will select the theme and the “look” of your site.
Spend 5 minutes viewing various themes that look professional, and choose one to your liking.
Note: You can always change your design at a later time without changing the place of your pages and elements.
Step 10: Need More Guidance?
If you need more of a detailed description about Elements or Design, click the "Help!" Button in the upper right hand corner of the heading. This "Help!" button will give you a step-by-step process in the "Beginner's Guide" to show how to add text, images, and other multimedia if you have any questions.
In the following steps, I will explain what you should include in your portfolio and where you should include it.
Step 11: Draft Homepage for Site
Include a brief biography on your homepage with the following information:
- Major(s)/ minor(s)
- College attending/ attended
- Brief summary of experience
- Anything that you feel would stand out to employers
- Seeking an internship or full-time position (if applicable)
Keep your biography to a maximum of 7 sentences. In order to include a biography, drag and drop the paragraph with title element below the main photo. In the image I have provided on this step, my biography is seen below the beach image.
Step 12: Upload Image on Main Page
Upload an image on your home page. You want the image on your main page to make a statement. An image of a project you have completed or something that relates to your major is appropriate.
Because my major is electrical engineering, I uploaded an image of a circuit design project I completed in an electrical engineering course.
Step 13: Pages
Click on the Pages tab. Your site can have as many pages as you would like in addition to your home page.
You may choose to have a page for:
- Contact Information
- Special Projects
- Leadership & Outreach
Do not exceed 8 different pages.
Step 14: Add a Page
To add a page, simply click "Add Page" while still in the Pages tab. From there, you can create your page name and layout. Once you are done, click "Save Settings" at the bottom of the screen.
Step 15: Pages: Resume, Image
For the resume page, include an image of your resume. Be sure to also include a title for the page. I chose the title "Resume."
Step 16: Pages: Resume, Link
Include a link to a pdf version of your resume by taking the following steps:
1. Hover over the resume image with your mouse.
2. Click on the link button in the upper righthand corner. A pop up window with the title "Link to:" will come up.
3. Click the button for "File on Your Website."
4. Search for your resume document in your computer files.
5. Click Save.
After you have finished these steps, when someone clicks on your resume's image, a pdf version of the resume will be opened up. This way, employers can easily view and print out your resume.
Note: If you have created your resume on a Word document, be sure to save it as a pdf version so that the formatting stays the same for whoever opens up your resume. Use this pdf version as the "File on Your Website."
Step 17: Pages: Coursework
For the coursework page, first include a title. Include the following at the top of the page:
- Image of your college's logo for a nice visual
- Brief summary of your experiences
Below this information, include:
- A few of the major courses you have taken
- Projects/ labs/ presentations you have accomplished during those courses
Note: Remember, less is more. Do not include ALL of the courses you've taken nor ALL of your labs or projects. Become very selective on what coursework you choose to include.
Step 18: Pages: Research
If you have experience in research, create a page to list your research experience. State the following:
- When you did the research
- What kind of research
- Title of research
- Supervisor/ Advisor
• His/Her credentials
Step 19: Pages: Leadership & Outreach
For the Leadership & Outreach Page, you may want to include a visual of you in your leadership or outreach position. Next, include a title. Below the title, include the following for each different experience:
- Your position
- Company/ club worked for or with
- Dates worked
- Brief explanation (2-3 sentences or bullets)
Include a maximum of 9 outreach and leadership positions.
Step 20: Page: Contact Info
You want to give employers the ability to contact you! You will need have the following information on your portfolio for employers to contact you:
- Name (First, Last)
- Your title
- Email address
- Phone number
- Mailing address
- Links to social media used for professional reasons (LinkedIn)
Include a picture of yourself so that when employers see you in person, they will recognize you from your outstanding online portfolio.
Note: Your contact information has potential to be viewed by the general public. If you do not want your personal information out on the web (like myself), use the "contact form" element under the "Elements" tab. Drag and drop this contact form where you would like to position it on your page. They can leave their name, email address, and comments, and once they click submit, their information and comments will be sent to your email without them knowing your information.
Step 21: Peer Review
Once you have finalized your portfolio, take the following steps for review:
1. Read over the entire portfolio at least two times.
2. Have a peer read over it for you.
3. Have a professor or business person read it over for you.
Be sure your portfolio is grammatically correct.
Step 22: Publish Portfolio
Once your portfolio is perfected, it is time to publish it. Click the orange "Publish >>" button in the upper right hand corner next to the "Help." Once you have clicked the "Publish >>" button, a message will appear saying "Website Published!"
Step 23: View Your Final Product
To view your free website, click your weebly subdomain link in the "Website Published!" message box. Your final product will show up in a new tab on your browser!
Note: If you want to register your own ".com" domain for a price of $29.95/month, you may choose that option.
Step 24: Add Website to Your Resume
Now, it's time to update your resume so that it includes your published portfolio! Include the website address of your portfolio at the end of your resume.
Step 25: Update Your Portfolio Regularly
Update your portfolio regularly so the information on your website is always fresh and relevant.
Step 26: Good Luck!
Now you are ready to showcase your work. Good luck on your future plans!