Last Friday I had my final portfolio review for my public relations sequence at the University of Oregon, meaning that I am finally done with all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 years. While I’m grateful to be graduating early, finally being done with the journalism school is bittersweet. I know I’m ready to enter the work place, but I have learned so much there over these past years its crazy that its all over!
Heading into my portfolio review I was nervous. I’d put so much work into getting my layouts exactly right that I was afraid I was going to over think everything. Luckily, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, and present my material to my review board. (It helped that they were a great group of people just wanting to help me get better).
After presenting they gave me some great feedback, and to be able to remember it always, I thought I’d share the big points they made with you:
1. Make sure you tell a story: When you’re going in to explain your work its important to let them know the history behind it. What was the problem? How did you address it? What were your strategies? Did it work? Were you successful? Going back, what would you have done differently? By explaining the details behind why you did what you did, your interviewer or reviewer is able to understand precisely what you did. My reviewers also liked the info cards I had for each layout explaining what the goal was and what the results were. They encouraged me to change it up a bit and instead include a section like this and tailor it to each layout:
2. Put your most important information first: This means not only in the material you include but also on your resume. Put your best work at the top. My reviewers encouraged me to move my skills section to the top, especially since I specialize in combining of traditional and new media as well as design work. By moving this stuff to the top it is the first thing your reviewer/interviewer sees and so they’ll be more apt to understand that you used these skills to create and present everything in your portfolio.
3. Have a color scheme: My reviewers were very impressed by my layout, especially in the fact that I had a different color that went with each internship and coursework that I included. I had a red banner for all my HIV Alliance work, a blue banner for the blogging I do for Moxie, a wedding planning company in Eugene, a pink banner for the articles I write for Her Campus Magazine, and a purple banner for the group work I just completed for Phelps Creek Vineyards. They said that this not only made my portfolio stand out, but also let them know when the work was transitioning from company to company.
4. Make sure your personality shines through: One thing I’ve never been afraid of is to be myself. My reviewers were impressed by my confidence and ability to show myself through my work while still remaining professional. I think its important to never try and hide a part of your personality as long as you can remain poised and professional. If you smile a lot, keep smiling during your review. If you like to make jokes, don’t be afraid to throw one in there as long as its appropriate for the audience and content. The most important thing is to feel out your reviewer/interviewer, and from there you’ll know exactly what to do.
5. Add a personal interest section to your resume: This one through me for a loop at first. A personal interest section? You really want to know that I enjoy tennis and traveling? Apparently they do. It allows them to see a quick glimpse of who you are through the extra activities you enjoy. One of my reviewers even told me that they hired 6 interns over the past year because each of them had an interest in lacrosse. While the skill set was obviously there as well, their interest in the sport was not only something they had in common, but also was able to show that they had drive, teamwork, and the capability to balance multiple tasks at once.
The reviewing process may seem nerve racking, but after it was over I was truly grateful for the experience. I was able to receive positive feedback from working professionals as well as constructive criticism. I plan on taking all the information and feedback they gave me, creating a better portfolio, and heading out into the real world a confident, successful graduate.
Thank you J-School for all you taught me. I think I’m finally ready!