5 ways to build your best portfolio during your internship

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony DiLaura 
By Rose McManus

The best part about having a summer internship is getting to create your own work outside of the classroom, and building a portfolio is the best way to showcase all of it. These 5 steps will help you create an impressive online portfolio to show your skills and wow future employers. 

1) Ask for feedback early and often

Internships are meant to be learning experiences, not just a place to show off your skills. Establish a precedent of asking your supervisors for feedback — what you did well and what you could improve upon — early and often. Then actually listen to it. Your boss will be impressed with your growth, and your work will improve.

2) Put your name on anything you can

If you contribute to a project or a story, ask your supervisor how you can receive credit for the work. Oftentimes, a small line can be added with the names of contributors, or you’ll be added as a byline. Future employers will want to see your name on work and your supervisor will understand. Be sure you can describe exactly what you contributed.

3) Pitch projects for yourself

If you’re not getting enough projects or stories that are solely yours, pitch ideas to your supervisor. Most interns have more free time than other people in the office. Instead of scrolling through Twitter, think of ways you can constructively add value to a client’s experience or news organization. Your boss will be impressed with your initiative and, if he or she likes the idea, you’ll have a byline or credit of your own.

4) Put your work online ASAP

As soon as a project is completed or published, add it to your online portfolio. This is when it will be easiest to remember the work you did as well as challenges you faced. Add it to your portfolio immediately to keep it updated and provide a detailed description of your contribution. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to do a media dump at the end of the summer.

5) Ask in advance for a reference 

Before the end of the summer, ask your supervisor or others you worked closely with if they would be willing to be a reference for you in the future. They’ll have a clearer memory of the kind of work you did and your performance, and if you ask in-person, they may be more willing to oblige. Remember to follow up in the future if you do end up using them as a reference. It’s always polite to let someone know when you put their name on an application.

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