IADT Blogs

Why All IADT Students Need A Portfolio (And How to Create One)

April 19, 2011 IADT General, Career Tips & Resources 0 Comments

Let’s face it; you’re not attending school to further your career as a barista. You started college with the intention of carving a niche in a competitive career field.

Winning the prize of your first industry job requires that you set yourself apart by appealing to recruiters with every tool at your disposal. Yes, we are talking about developing a brand for yourself, collecting examples of what you offer, and figuring out how to present that work in a memorable way. This is a very roundabout way of saying portfolio.

WAIT! I see you about to click away from the page! Yes, you in the Information Technology program.

Hang around for a minute. This article is for you. In fact, this article is really geared toward anybody who may think a portfolio does not apply to them.

Understanding your industry and how best to support your resume is the foundation of a non-designers’ portfolio. And the best news is that you have a wealth of media expertise around you that you can tap into – your fellow students and your school’s staff.

But how do you build a portfolio in a program when there is no precedent for one? This is the issue that IADT-Chicago faced when starting its Portfolio Enrichment Resource Lab (PERL). By combining the talents of representatives from every academic program with the expertise of Career Services, the committee began strengthening how students prepare to transition into the workforce.

“With Merchandising [for example], students need to showcase their technical skills like never before and can do so by showcasing these skills in the form of a portfolio,” says Cheryl Perillo, director of Career Services and Chair of the PERL committee. “If an IT student can collaborate with a Visual Communications student to pick up those Adobe skills and spruce up that resume, it’s going to have that wow factor.”

Susan Wade, who represents Merchandising Management on the committee, sums up the process. “You start by looking at other schools with similar programs, looking at the industry, and developing a competitive analysis. From there, you form a model for a portfolio based on projects students complete in their academic career. Then it comes down to providing students with the resources to collect that work in a presentable format.”

So how can students at any campus get started?

These are a few simple practices anyone can follow:

Use the resources around you. Your fellow students and staff have a wealth of information they can share.

Look at your strengths and weaknesses. Developing your portfolio allows you to look at your work comprehensively. Use this to think about where to focus your efforts.

Find out what employers are looking for. Research is the secret to success. Constantly speak to faculty and industry representatives to find out what will make your portfolio stand out.

Get feedback. As you collect and organize your work, have other people look it over. Pay attention to where they spend time, what they skip, and ask them what you can improve upon.

Revise, revise, and revise. Your portfolio has to grow with you. Always look at new pieces to strengthen your presentation and use your research and feedback to develop on a regular basis.

Brand yourself. Your portfolio, resume, and business cards should form a comprehensive look. When you finish an interview, what you leave behind with a prospective employer should make them remember your entire presentation.

So what are you waiting for? Get to work!

Excerpted from an article in the spring 2011 issue of Artistik magazine by Ron Wade, visual communications instructor, IADT-Chicago.


What do you think?