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Portfolio Advice?

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#1
Laura Miles

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Hi Everyone,
I am wondering if anyone would like to give their two bits on what elements make a good or poor portfolio? Being in the field of GIS I am very rarely asked for a portfolio but it happens on occasion. I currently have an 8.5 X 11 book with some samples of my work but I struggle with the best way to present work that doesn't fit that size. 11 X 17 can stretch over two pages easily, but how about showing larger sized maps? What about carrying a digital portfolio on disk? I am curious to know how you all approach this.
Laura

#2
David Medeiros

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I have found that my best portfolio is my website. When looking for work I often encounter specific instructions NOT to include a portfolio or samples with my application. I have found that by including my web address on my resume, email signature and mentioning it in my cover letter, potential employers will visit my online portfolio anyway and are often impressed with what they see.

GIS work can be a little harder to represent visually since a lot of what’s important to employers has to do with what you did in your projects, not just what it looks like. In that case I suggest picking the maps that are either your best cartographically or represent the most unusual, original or difficult work. Create an online portfolio displaying this work but accompany each PDF or JPG with a brief description of what the work represents, what software was used and any other interesting detail (keep it brief and specific).

When assembling an online portfolio, resist the urge to show all of your work. Categorize your work by type of project and only include one of each type. If you have a ton of work in all sorts of categories just pick the top few and put them online. The fewer and more focused your work examples are the more impact they will have.

I also create a PDF binder of the same top work samples and keep that on a USB drive I take to meetings and interviews. I have never needed it but if the opportunity comes up, I have it. I stopped taking printed samples a long time ago realizing no one wants to see them and they are usually a poor representation of my work anyway. If I had an interview where the project very closely matched a previous map, I would bring that one map and show it off as the topic presented itself (be sure you can discuss the work you bring in detail).

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#3
natcase

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What David said got me thinking.

A lot of folks get in trouble by trying to pretend they have skills or portfolio they just don't. Get someone to give you a really honest evaluation of your portfolio, if you can take it. I can't tell you the number of folks who come prepared to "show off" when they really aren't in a position to do so. Especially those fresh out of school. I'm not looking for someone to replace me, but someone who can can work to specifications, have an orderly sense of production, and understand the software well enough to do the job.

On the other hand, if you do have a top-notch portfolio, it's good to know you're available for a different level of work.

So my advice is, try and determine just how good a portfolio you have, and weight its importance accordingly.

Nat Case
INCase, LLC

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#4
Laura Miles

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Thanks to both for your responses, I do not have much experience thus not much to put into a portfolio. I only produce one when it is requested (with a bit of dread), and have no illusions about it being anywhere near top-notch! I have tried to include a variety of different styles of map, ensuring errors are to a minimum and that they are my "best" work but other than that have felt sort of clueless. I have been thinking about building a website for a while now and thanks to your invaluable advice David, it sounds like that is a good direction to move in.

#5
s hubbard

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let your website show your broad and finer skills, but on interviews/meetings try to bring good looking paper samples of what you think they would be most interested in. a good looking print is worth alot when your selling your work, and usually look way better than any jpg or png on the net...

it really depends on if your selling maps, or services. there's nothing wrong with putting all your work in one portfolio, if it's maps.

services, yes, separate them according to service types. but remember, people today want quick, easy-to-navigate websites (i learned this recently), and it takes more than good cartography to sell yourself.

you can always label your work within a portfolio for the same effect, but serves for quicker navigating.

sometimes all it takes is one nice paper copy of work to land a job/contract.
s hubbard
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#6
johnnyh

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What would really be enlightening would be a "Checkout My Portfolio!" thread...




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