Live event blog: Online portfolio workshop

By Cole Kennedy
We're just about ready to start here in 110 Lee Hills Hall (the Missourian building, in the basement) with Rob Weir, the director of digital development of the Columbia Missourian, Vivian Abagiu, the photo editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune, and Annie Hammock, the interactive director at KOMU-TV.

Annie Hammock (@anniehammock) is up first, talking about whether or not students need to learn to code. She crowdsourced the question and got some great feedback, which you can see here.

Derek Wills (@derekwillis), from the New York Times, says that students should build it themselves if they're able, but to keep it simple.

Students should look at building their portfolio as an opportunity to learn or brush up on their HTML skills.

Millions of people can build a portfolio with Weebly, Wix, etc. - set yourself apart by showing that you can work outside of those drag-and-drop ecosystems.

The most important point, from Will Haynes (@willhaynes) - forget the medium if there's no good content.

Aron Pilhofer (@pilhofer), also of the New York Times, says that he always looks at online portfolios when he's hiring. "It can tell you a lot of things - good or bad."

Steve Buttry even went as far as setting up a Pinterest board with highlights from his career, showing not only his accomplishments but his social media savvy. He also created a Google Map that shows all the locations of every place he's spoken or worked.

Next up is Vivian Abagiu (@tribphotoed), the photo editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune. She'll be approaching this with photojournalists in mind. They just went through a hiring process at the CDT, so she's looked through about 40 portfolios recently.

Clarity is so important - if it's difficult to see the work within six seconds of arriving at the website, they're likely to move on to the next person in line.

PDFs are far better than .doc files when sending in resumes. Remember to consider that the hiring manager is very busy, and looking at your portfolio shouldn't be hard work for them.

Get them to your content ASAP - don't make them click unnecessarily.

Design matters, and if that's not your strength, it might be better to just pay the monthly fee to have a good website arranged for you.

Advice - have a tech unsavvy relative (grandma, parents) to go look at your website to determine if it really is simple to access the content.

"What you put in, is just as important as what you leave out." Several applicants send far too much content -  keep it simple and only include your best work.

"Your portfolio should show off your technical ability, creative eye and awareness of what has news value. It should also show that you are comfortable throwing yourself into all types of situation, from a funeral to a rodeo. How you edit your work can highlight your strengths, or hide them."

We're ready for our last presenter, Rob Weir (@robweir) of the Columbia Missourian.

Think about what position you're applying for - if you're not a developer, it's not critical for you learn to code.

Rob quoted Jony Ive in the Objectified documentary: "everything defers to the screen." He then showed us an example where everything defers to the screen, and the portfolio shows how all of her work fits on every device.

Jessica Hische, a lettering and type designer, includes work on her portfolio that she was never paid or assigned to do; work that was just to explore an idea. Don't be afraid to work on personal projects and include those on your portfolio.

Jason Santa Maria includes past iterations of his portfolio; though they aren't as well done as his current portfolio website, he can show parts of his personality through those old websites.

Including iPads is a great addition if you can do it - newsrooms "salivate" over journalists and developers who have experience working with iOS.

Many people are satisfied with cover letters and resumes, but it's much better to make your online portfolio a broad standard of all your works, but your cover letters should be tailored for wherever you're applying.

Now we're ready to go ahead and do some blog critiques! We hope you stop by our next event!

Blogs we critiqued

Video of the event


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