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How to Put Together the Perfect Creative Portfolio as a Student

portfolio tips

During the job search, having the perfect resume and a well-written cover letter is essential. But if you’re seeking a creative career, it’s important you have a slick and professional creative portfolio to showcase your work to future employers.

Let’s break down how to build a creative portfolio as an international student, and how you can tailor yours depending on the industry you’re moving into.

What is a creative portfolio?

The purpose of a portfolio is to showcase a collection of your best creative work. It demonstrates who you are and what you do, with examples of your work, in an easy to navigate and cohesive format.

Rather than just crowding everything you’ve ever done into an online or printed portfolio, think carefully about what you want to showcase. Think about your resume; you don’t list every single job or role you’ve ever had in your life, because that would make the resume pages and pages long! Instead, carefully curate the portfolio to only include your best work.

Like a resume and a cover letter, you’ll also want to make sure that you are tailoring your creative portfolio to the position you are applying for. Include examples of your work that demonstrate the skills you would bring to the role.

How do I build an online creative portfolio?

For a step-by-step guide on how to build the perfect creative portfolio, check out our article, How to Develop a Creative Portfolio.

Online portfolio vs. printed portfolio

One important thing to note is that nowadays, an online creative portfolio is essential for anyone studying or seeking work in a creative field. Online portfolios are easier to set up and you can amend or add to them more easily. Plus, they’re cheaper than constantly printing your portfolio as you produce new work!

There are so many affordable online spaces that allow you to build your portfolio. Squarespace and Wix are two popular and easy-to-use options. 

When it comes to the job interview, make sure you bring an iPad or some kind of tablet device to show off your portfolio – it shows that you’ve come prepared and organised. 

A creative portfolio… for architects

There are two incredibly important things to remember when it comes to putting together a creative portfolio for the architecture industry.

Firstly, make sure you understand who your audience is. In other words, do some research on the organisation you are applying for. What kinds of projects do they specialise in? Is it landscape architecture, residential design, or interior design? Then, you can highlight projects that you’ve done that are relevant to the organisation.

Secondly, include team projects. While your portfolio is individual, it’s important that you show that you can work collaboratively. Just focus on the elements of the team project that you worked on, but make sure to credit your teammates. 

…for photographers

To make your photography portfolio stand out from the crowd, ensure that your portfolio is up-to-date with your newest work. Your style as a photographer can change a lot in a short amount of time, so you need to demonstrate your growth to your employer. 

Also, try to create a theme for your portfolio. Whether you focus on the lighting, colour palettes or actual subject of your portfolio (e.g. group the food photos together), creating themes will mean a more cohesive portfolio.

…for writers

If you’re hoping to enter the world of writing, whether in an in-house role or as a freelancer, a portfolio will demonstrate your versatility as a writer. 

If you’re a student and don’t have examples of published work yet, don’t worry! You can include work you have done in your course that shows off your skills, or start your own blog on a topic you enjoy to build up your portfolio.

If you’re interested in doing some freelance writing, remember, you can have a freelance job as an international student in Australia!

…for graphic designers

If you’re studying graphic design, your creative portfolio is an opportunity to show off your personality in your work, whether this is through the writing you include when outlining your pieces, or unique personal branding. 

If you’re a student and still making your way through your course, it can be difficult to find enough work to fill a full portfolio. In this case, try taking on side projects outside of your studies, entering competitions, or creating mock-ups that reflect your style.

…for filmmakers

For students looking to work in film or screen arts, your creative portfolio is more commonly known as a ‘showreel’. A showreel should not exceed 1-2 minutes, typically, and should highlight the best shots or scenes in the work you have produced. 

…for everything else!

A creative portfolio is something every student interested in working in a creative field should start building. With a good foundation, you’ll find it easy to swap out old work for newer, better work, and you can always have it on hand when jobs come up.

If you need some inspiration, just have a quick search online for your career goal and ‘creative portfolio’.