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Student Portfolios Matter

Portfolio Word CloudA long-repeated request of our national Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) has been to get community college students to develop a strong portfolio for job interviews.  We’re told that job interviews in the IT industry are not just about resumes and Q&A.  Hiring managers want to see vivid examples of the interviewee’s work, understand how interviewees approach an IT problem, and learn more about how the interviewee might work in a group.  And yes, when it comes to portfolio samples, classroom projects most definitely do count.  From the BILT’s perspective, not only do IT students need to make sure they’re doing all they can to build a comprehensive portfolio, but IT faculty need to make sure they’re doing all they can in the classroom to encourage portfolios.

The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) convened a special BILT “Tiger Team” committee to explore in detail just what students should keep in mind when developing portfolios.  The results of that meeting can be found in this overview document.  Below are a few highlights.

Successful portfolios are those that…

  • Focus on a few top projects that seem most relevant to the job being sought
  • Include a visual component, rather than consisting of all text
  • Showcase successful teamwork and collaboration on IT projects
  • Demonstrate not just what you did, but how and why you did it that way – what was the thinking involved?
  • Exist in a format that is easily viewable in an interview – a website is great, but you may want to bring hard copies in the event there’s an issue with your laptop or tablet
  • Present a financial angle to the projects, not just a technical angle

Time and again, the CTC has heard anecdotal evidence that a strong portfolio can give an interviewee an edge and mean the difference between a hire and a pass.  It’s important this real-world lesson is delivered to community college faculty and students.

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