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Have faith in your work. Who else would love it better than yourself? Present them in the best way that you can and highlight its most valuable elements.

“Do you have a portfolio?”

When you think about the question itself, it is very simple. In form and construction, the only answer you will ever need is one of two options: yes or no. However, putting it into context changes the entire game. Ask this to an up-and-coming SIAT student, and more often than not, their answer is accompanied by a nervous grin, deep sighs, or both. Not only that, but usually the answer also comes with a certain explanation: “yes, but…”, “no, because…”

How hard can it be? The answer depends on the person, but starting it can be tricky. Like all things, the hardest part is finding out where, and how to start. As a young creative, assembling your portfolio is the most important indicator distinguishing your transition from student to professional. Most of us have already gone through this stage, so it’s not all that bad. It’s just one of those things where you venture into something new, and let your judgement lead your way. So for starters, here are a few tips that might help in paving the way to… *drum roll, please*…your first portfolio.

1. Define Your Strength: the More Focused, the Better

In a multidisciplinary program like SIAT, you will have to find your specialty: Do you have a passion for film and animation? Are you a natural at programming languages? What about graphic design? This paints a picture in your potential employers’ minds of your overall ability. You can also throw in a few other things (extracurricular activities, etc.), but 80-90% of your project selections should illustrate your strength. Warren Berger, author of  “Glimmer”,  describes this as being a “T-shaped person”, where you can have a breadth of abilities, but have one skill that you know deeply. 

2. Be Proactive, Find Your Own Projects

Settling for your school projects just won’t make the cut. The reason being is that you have groupmates and they will have the same projects. Moreso, most of the SIAT students will have the same projects, as you are all taking the same classes. So what makes you stand out? Your work outside of school. Having outside work not only gives you more to flaunt, but also tells employers about your character. It shows you’re involved in activities outside school, can work with people other than your classmates, and can work outside an academic environment.

3. Maintain Your Portfolio

A portfolio is a living document. It evolves over time, in the same manner, and pace that a creative progresses in his or her chosen field. Keep in mind that you should be featuring newer work as your skills and experience progress over time. Don’t worry about not having the best right away as your first set is meant to get you off the ground. It gives you a starting point to grow from and provides you with visual feedback on how far you’ve come along since you first started. It can be quite encouraging. 

Lastly, have faith in your work. Who else would love it better than yourself? Present them in the best way that you can and highlight its most valuable elements. Leave your audience with something unforgettable about your portfolio, and then find ways to push your ability forward. 

SFU Co-op Student

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