Written by Sustainable Cities Initiative account team members Katie Thomson, Mollie Markey, Daniella Espino, Rita Herbstman and Michael Mason.
The University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication requires students to put together a collection of work before graduation to present in a mock-interview to local professionals. These professionals give feedback on the pros and cons of student portfolios and advice on future interviews in the “real world.” As we enter the last few weeks of the 2018 winter term, seniors will begin to put together their portfolios. However, it can be difficult to determine what exactly to put in your portfolio. How do you balance internship work and school work in your portfolio? How do you decide between creating a digital versus hard copy portfolio? Where do you even begin? These types of questions can be hard to answer. Dean Mundy, a public relations professor at the SOJC, sat down with Rita Herbstman to offer his expert insight on Portfolio Reviews.
What advice do you have for students preparing for Portfolio Reviews?
Professor Mundy explained that the most important thing for students to remember is that your portfolio is for you. Of course, your professor and reviewers want to see that you have mastered certain skills in the public relations program, but this is your personal narrative. He says, “A common misconception is that your portfolio is a comprehensive collection of all the work you have done over the last four years. This is not the case.” This misconception causes students to lose focus. Instead, your portfolio should present work that expresses your passions, interests, skills and goals. You must be honest with yourself; if you want to go to graduate school or work in a field that is not specifically public relations, present work you have done that will help you achieve these goals.
What advice do you have for juniors to prepare?
The earlier students start preparing for Portfolio Reviews, the better the process will be. Professor Mundy advises students to start saving everything from every public relations course and real-world experience. He suggested starting a Dropbox or email folder to save every assignment. This way, when Portfolio Reviews comes around, you can easily access your work, choose your best pieces, revise and add to your portfolio. This will just make your life much easier! He also recommended taking the portfolio workshop offered through the SOJC because it offers invaluable advice in crafting and presenting your portfolio.
If a student does not have sufficient work from internships, how do they decide what school work to put into their portfolio?
By senior year, most students will have completed at least one internship. However, the work produced from an internship may be insufficient or unrelated to your career goals. This is why Professor Mundy thinks it is important to include a variety of work from both internships and class work. He explained that having this variety “demonstrates your range of ability in communication.” For example, if you had an internship that was social media focused, incorporate writing samples, such as press releases or media pitches that you wrote for your classes. Prioritizing real-world work is important, but if this work does not align with your goals, replace it with something that does.
What are the pros and cons of a hard copy portfolio versus a digital portfolio?
Both hard copy and digital portfolios have advantages and disadvantages. Hard copy portfolios are reliable and allow you to control the narrative of your portfolio. You can decide the order of your work and emphasize what you believe is the most important. Digital portfolios allow for more creativity. You do not have the ability to control the order of what your reviewers will see, but it is practical in the sense that you can keep adding to it after reviews and into your career. It is also readily available to send with your resume when applying for jobs.
How does a student make their personality show in their portfolio?
Every student has a unique personality, as well as talents and skills. This means that each portfolio will be different. Professor Mundy explained that authenticity is key. If you are not creative, do not try to be creative. If you are, make it brilliantly creative. The only expectation is that you present who you are, not who you think you need to be.
If a student does not have visual aspects to their portfolio, what are some tips for making writing samples visually appealing?
Students will succeed if they are straight-forward about their goals with their reviewers and confident in the direction they want their career to go. Some students will want to work primarily in creating visual work, while others will strictly want to write. Professor Mundy explained that knowing your direction and career goals will help frame your portfolio. However, making your portfolio visually appealing is also important. If your work is writing heavy, find places where you can replace writing with visuals. For example, if you have written social media content, take screenshots of the posts instead of describing them.
Any final words of wisdom that you think students should know before Portfolio Reviews?
While Portfolio Reviews are stressful to prepare for, it is important to never sell yourself short. Professor Mundy says that he always hears students say they do not have enough of this work or that work, but that is beside the point. Your portfolio is an expression of who you are, everything you have accomplished and how it all comes together. You have created impressive work throughout your time at the SOJC. Be proud of it.