Recently I’ve received several emails from readers asking about how I created my online portfolio. While in graduate school, I was assigned to make a portfolio for my intro to school counseling course. The idea was that once we had this binder we could add things as we moved through the program and we could use it during our job hunt. This is exactly what I did, but then I decided I wanted to showcase my knowledge and ability to use technology, hence the online portfolio.
I spent a lot of time researching and planning prior to creating my online portfolio. I looked at many different sites that would support my portfolio and ultimately decided to use Weebly. Weebly is super user friendly. They have a beautiful, clean site that is easy to navigate. They use drag and drop features so it really is easy to build a website. You can see how it works on this youtube video! You can also check out this step-by-step tutorial presented on Weebly’s own website. I also liked weebly because of the data tracker that allows me to see how many unique visitors came to my site. In case you are wondering – I am in no way affiliated with Weebly. I’ve just been really pleased with the site and customer support. There are other great portfolio sites out there, but I picked Weebly because it worked the best for me.
Once you decide which platform you are going to use then its time to create your portfolio! One of the first things you will be asked to do is create a name for your portfolio that is included in the url. I opted for my name so that my url was straightforward and simple to potential employers. You will also be asked to select a template. Templates have a lot of variety. I picked one that I could add my own personality to while also looking professional. Once you have done those two things then its time to add the content!
In my opinion these are the top things to include in a portfolio:
-Professional Statement or Philosophy
-Sample Lesson Plan
As I built my own portfolio I looked at many other prospective and working school counselors’ online portfolios. I found ideas I liked, such as a 1 page sheet on how my work aligns with the ASCA model, and realized what formats I found pleasing to the eye. I encourage you to look at other people’s portfolios in and outside of the realm of counseling to get ideas about what might work for you.
With that said, please do not copy other people’s work, mine included. One reader did exactly what I am suggesting above, she looked at a variety of portfolios to see what she liked and to get ideas for her own. Through her search she found several portfolios that used my counseling approach, either parts of it or the statement in its entirety. When I received her email my stomach sank and turned upside down. I was hurt and disappointed by a few of my fellow school counselors. I encourage you to look for inspiration but remember, there is a difference between being inspired and plagiarism.
Some questions to consider as you build your own online professional portfolio:
What is the main idea I am trying to address on this page? Is it clear to the reader? As I built my weebly I found myself constantly editing. I wanted to make sure I was not wasting space or trying to put too much information in once place. I wanted my main idea to be clear and easy to find or understand.
Are there things on my portfolio that I find distracting? As I looked at other portfolios I discovered that I had a preference about side bars, something I had never considered before. I found them to be very distracting so I created a site that does not have side bars. Going back to the first question – I thought they took away from the main idea. Is there anything on your site that could be distracting to the reader?
Is this helping my job prospects? This seems like an obvious question but really think about it. If you are building an online professional portfolio to land a job ask yourself if its helping you land a job? Is it helping you get an interview? If there is information or documents that are not helping you then don’t include it.
Is the content putting my best self forward? Have you edited your portfolio? Just as typos are frowned upon on resumes and cover letters, make sure that your portfolio is making a good first impression too! Your portfolio acts as an extension of your resume. It is okay to let your personality to shine through but also make sure its professional and highlighting your strengths.
If you checked out Weebly and aren’t sure it is for you, here are a couple of articles that mention other online platforms, as well as helpful tips:
The Counseling Geek has a great resource for building your online portfolio too.
What platform did you chose for your digital portfolio? What are your must haves for your portfolio?