Finding a new job is hard, but knowing how to tell your story can definitely help. Especially as developers: we’re fortunate to have work that speaks for itself.
In this post, I’ll describe how I built my first portfolio and got my first internship at Google. (I’m going to dive right into it, but if you want to know a bit more about me and my story, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page 👇).
The first step to building anything is to define the user. In the case of an engineering portfolio, your user is surely a recruiter and that’ll inform a lot of its structure. But, you can determine even more about your portfolio’s user by defining what company that recruiter works at.
In my case, I knew I wanted to work at Google. I always loved their culture and products and in college, I wanted to be a part of it. But this doesn’t have to be your goal, too. You might want a smaller team or a different culture entirely. Either way, it’s important to list 1-3 dream jobs so that you can understand exactly what they’re looking for: Do your research.
Note: If we had unlimited time, we’d do research on dozens of companies. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time. By choosing your dream company, you’re orienting yourself and your portfolio towards the type of company you’d love to work for. After that, you may or may not get the job at your company -- that’s fine! But your application will show your true self, and it’ll work for the companies you fit best with.
Don’t know what your dream job can be? Don’t sweat it. Here are some resources to help you find great companies and their job opportunities:
Other great options:
Now, we have a list of 1-3 companies that we’d love to work at -- let’s learn about what they’re looking for. Don’t just look for their technical qualifications or requirements, dive deeper! Learn about what experiences have worked for other people, what technologies they use, and their company culture. Here are some ways you can conduct this research:
You know what the company is looking for and you understand their culture a bit better. Keep this in mind for the rest of the process and be sure to emulate that as much as you can!
Now, you know what your dream companies are looking for. Take a look at your resume and your experiences and ask yourself: how can I highlight my experiences so that these people want to hire me?
Don’t have projects? No problem! Here are a few tips to help you find them:
Last step? Show it off!
Making a portfolio website can be one of the most fun things you do. Don’t be humble -- show off your work and express your story. Remember the user -- the recruiter from your dream company -- and tell them your story through your projects and through your design.
For design tips, check out 10 Design Tips to Level Up Your Next Project
Personally, I think it’s always helpful to start with examples, so I’ve compiled a list of GREAT portfolio sites (some of them are my friends, too!) to show you here:
A bit more about Arman:
Hey! I’m originally from New York and I studied Electrical & Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. I’ve interned at Google twice, taught web development at Carnegie Mellon, and started 3 companies. Reach out any time on Twitter or Linkedin!
Highlighted Work at Google:
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