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Helping Students Leverage Their Portfolios

The National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) has long recommended students develop and curate a portfolio of their classwork to use during job interviews. The BILT believes showing technical skills with tangible documentation can be effective when applying for a job, setting them apart from candidates who may come to the job interview with only a resume. In urging IT programs to actively encourage portfolio creation and curation, the CTC has hosted workshops and webinars, shared resources, and managed a three-year pilot project with a select group of colleges to determine if students who develop portfolios get hired more quickly than students who don’t.

During a focus group meeting with faculty members involved in that pilot project, the group noted a career services gap. While most colleges offer robust student support for mock interviews, and many colleges are doing more to require students to build portfolios of their work, there isn’t a clear guide for successfully connecting the two. That is, how exactly do you leverage a portfolio in job interview?

To answer that question, the National CTC interviewed four BILT members. Each were asked two questions. Why is a portfolio so important on job interviews? How can an interviewee “bring up” the portfolio during the meeting? Their responses were edited into a five-minute video which you can watch here. The goal is to use these expert opinions to better prepare students and graduates for how best to use their portfolios in job interviews.

Below are highlights from that video.

Why portfolios are important.

  • One of the most important aspects of portfolios is that you can provide tangible examples of the things that you’ve done.
  • When employers are looking at you as a potential candidate for the position, they will know you’ve done work in this area. You have proven examples.
  • It becomes a differentiating proposition for you to bring something tangible to the table where you can not only demonstrate your knowledge of what you’re doing but you can demonstrate a level of mastery in it.
  • It also shows them that you know what you’re talking about.

How to use the portfolio

  • When I interview, I ask, “tell me about yourself” and “tell me why do you want to be in IT?” What I’ve done is I’ve opened the door for them to tell me about them.
  • When they ask you those scenario-based questions it’s the perfect time to say, “actually I have something to show you on that.”
  • They’re going to ask you about experience and I think that right there would be a perfect time to bring that in.
  • Even before the interview process, you can ask the question hey is it okay if I bring a couple of things to the table.
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