It is widespread knowledge that artistic fields need a portfolio. But what no one told me, is that a portfolio is also super necessary for computer science – especially for the kinds of careers I am interested in: software and web development. But honestly, most anyone in a COSC field should have some sort of way to showcase your abilities. How you design code and attack problems is at the forefront of employers mind when looking to hire.
After much research, here are the essential tips I was able to distill (especially if you are low on experience like me):
1) GitHub is Your Friend
If you somehow don’t know, it is an industry staple and something most everyone will be familiar with. Some even use only it for their portfolios. This however, isn’t recommended. Just make the link to your GitHub prominent on your personal site. Bill Lovett does this well on his portfolio.
2) Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep
This isn’t your resume. You don’t have to keep it to a single printed page or two. You have as many examples of your work as you’d like. It’s a website – you can make it sing and dance if you’d like.
Obviously links to things like apps, websites, and other projects you have worked on is great. But you can also show your design process too. Often, how you got there is just as important as the final product. And this doesn’t just have to display things directly involved in your field. If you’re like me, showing clubs you’re in and events you’ve planned is a great way to demonstrate your leadership, teamwork and collaboration, and planning and problem solving skills.
Sidenote: This is probably obvious, but: If you decide to have a more immersive portfolio, make sure the design is fluid. Potential employers shouldn’t have to go digging to find the essentials.And they won’t. Your homepage should have your resume, contact info, and those few pieces you’d really like to focus on. Then, if people want more information, it is readily available.
3) Make it Your Own
Brand yourself – heck, you can even create a logo. Don’t be afraid to be uniquely, unabashedly, unapologetically you (while still maintaining the correct degree of professionalism, of course). Use what you love and bring it to the portfolio. Not only will it help you stand out, it will probably be more fun to create too.
Play to your strengths. Highlight what you’re good at and what you hope to be doing in the future. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your a back end developer without a lick of design sense, don’t just use a template, go find a friend or a cheap freelancer to help you create your site and give them something to buff their portfolio.