A portfolio is one of the most important pieces of your graduate school application. Not only does it demonstrate your skills, but it shows your level of professionalism in how you’re able to present yourself and your work.
Creating a portfolio is not easy. It takes time to think through how to focus and best showcase your talents. Putting together a portfolio requires to you sit down and seriously (and realistically!) decide where your strengths lie and to also organize your work in such a way that it’s immediately obvious to the reviewers that you belong in the program.
Al Sinoy is an alumnus of the MDM program, was a Product Manager at Wooga, and was an MDM visiting faculty. He is an expert in portfolios—in creating his own to get into the MDM program and throughout his career reviewing job applicants’ portfolios and mentoring MDM students. Below are Al’s portfolio tips.
5 Tips For Creating a Killer Graduate School Portfolio:
1. Know your audience. Make sure that your portfolio is aligned with industry and program standards. When applying for MDM, for example, it’s best to submit an online portfolio. An online portfolio is easier for reviewers to access, gives you more control in how your portfolio is presented and shows that you’re digital media savvy—something that the program is looking for in applicants.
2. Use more visuals than text. Visuals attract attention. We recommend including a visual and a short anecdote for each project you’re presenting. In the anecdote include a short description of the project, what you did, what you used and if it was a team-based, what your role was and what you contributed to the project.
3. If you have a wide variety of skills, show what your top strengths are. Be selective. Just because you like to paint, doesn't mean that you should include painting in your portfolio. Make your portfolio competitive and ensure that it best demonstrates your skills and talents. If you are skilled in both Photoshop and Illustrator but you’re stronger in Photoshop make that clear. Be honest with where your skill levels are.
4. Make your first page lean. Include your name, your title (or what you want to be), 3 bullets points describing who you are, and your top 3 portfolio pieces on your first page. Reviewers look at hundreds of applications, so you want to quickly introduce yourself so that people reviewing your portfolio can easily get to the meat of your work.
5. Explain why you think the graduate program will help you achieve your goals. Make sure to clarify your goals and what you will get out of the program. Reviewers want to see that you are looking ahead and have future plans for your education and your career.
Bonus Tip: Make it look professional! It sounds obvious but it's surprising how many people spend all of their time selecting what to include and forget to polish and proofread their portfolio. A portfolio with amazing work doesn’t impress reviewers if it’s full of typos or presented in a cardboard box. When putting together your portfolio, think about the entire package.
Still have questions about your graduate school portfolio?
Read our tips for preparing your portfolio for helpful information on what to include depending on if you have a background in computer science, information technology, art, design, business or marketing.
Contact our admissions officer and he can send you samples of work and guide you through the portfolio process.
Want to know more about the Master of Digital Media Program?
Note: This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for accuracy.