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What is the Purpose of a Portfolio?

Portfolios are commonly used by students interested in pursuing careers in the arts, communications, education, or technology. However, anyone can assemble a portfolio to display their work and support their candidacy. The format (online or physical) and information included in a portfolio differs based on the industry in which you are applying and personal preference. A portfolio can be used during the interview to demonstrate examples of work you have done, or a link can be sent at the time of your application.

Physical Portfolios

A physical, printed portfolio can be helpful to have in some fields like art and design. For more information on compiling a physical portfolio, see:

Online Portfolios

An online portfolio can be a dynamic space to showcase your professional presence. Online portfolios typically include details about your skills and achievements and can include a reflective element (blog posts, writing samples) as well as examples of your work.

Read more on why creating an online portfolio can be so beneficial in establishing your professional presence online!

Online Portfolio Resources

DigiComm (Digital Communication Consulting), as part of the JMU Learning Centers, helps JMU students develop skills to produce more sophisticated and professional online content. All consultations are one-on-one with a trained peer tutor, collaborative, and can last up to 45-minutes. DigiComm helps students to:

  • pick the best web builder for their needs
  • brainstorm their layout
  • think through their work samples
  • develop their personal brand
  • start building their portfolio
  • assist them with every step of the revision process (from major roadblocks to the final tweaks)

Here are some links to help you get started with DigiComm:

DigiComm website 
Schedule a consultation with DigiComm

Creating an Online Portfolio on Your Own

Want to create your portfolio, but aren't sure how to get started? Check out these resources to learn about the best tools for building your page and content to include:

Creation Tools

The sites below are all free options for creating and hosting your online portfolio. For help deciding which web builder to use, check out DigiComm's comparison chart and quiz.

Check YouTube for additional tutorial videos on these sites.


Once you’ve created a portfolio, think about how to make it more appealing or effective.

Best Practices

  • Always consider your audience and tailor your portfolio’s content, layout, navigation, and visual style to communicate appropriately with that intended group.
  • If creating an online portfolio, monitor your content to make sure that links aren't broken, documents are opening, and information is up to date.
  • Maintain consistent visual design (font, colors, heading style, etc.).
  • Be mindful of copyright status; don’t post material that isn't yours. The portfolio is intended to showcase your work.
  • Use personal photos mindfully, consider your audience and the appropriate usage of photos in your portfolio. Make sure that you’re not violating others’ right to privacy. As such it can be helpful to ask others’ permission if they will be included in pictures in your portfolio. Also consider whether photos of you could lead to possible discrimination. Ask yourself whether the person reading through the portfolio really needs a photo of you in each situation.
  • If you’re putting your portfolio online, realize that it is accessible to the public. If you’re including a resume, think about whether you want your address and phone number published. If not you can always upload an alternate version of the document with this information removed.
  • Refer to our guidelines for maintaining a professional online image as well.
  • Once you’ve created your portfolio, promote it! Mention it in your resume, on your LinkedIn profile, or in your cover letter and provide a way for individuals to access it by providing a link or saying you will be happy to share printed samples of your work in an interview.

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