I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently connecting with grads. According to the numbers, there are plenty of grads out there doing it tough (20.5% underemployment in 2016).
While it’s incredibly competitive, some of these grads are setting new benchmarks as to what it takes to get noticed and stick out from the crowd.
Unless you don’t need to worry about a job now, or into the future, adding something tangible to your profile is important and one good way to stand out.
Image via Gratisography
Developing a portfolio was traditionally used for students who studied more practical topics, Architecture, Design, Fashion, Art, etc. This has moved well beyond these areas.
Remember, this is part of you showcasing what you’ve got, your interest in the area and what makes you stand out from others. This isn't limited to just a CV and cover letter. Some employers want to see your interest in their industry, your development while studying and your personality. Don’t be afraid to explore some of the different mediums to show this.
Here’s the most basic portfolio you might have seen - a blog.
Now - this may seem like a lot of work, but don’t dismiss it yet. If writing is your thing (even if it’s only short submissions), look at setting up a Medium profile - super easy to use and to start expanding your network. If you want to use snippets, why not set up a separate student focussed (and public) Instagram/Twitter account that shows what you’re up to every now and then. eg Photo with caption “Lab session doing x”.
Write a research report on a company that you’re either familiar with or understand. Try and make sure the company’s listed so that you can get a steady flow of public information on it. If you’re really game, after writing the research report, continue to follow the company and write small notes summing up company updates as they’re released.
Write a marketing or social media plan for a company. Build up a side profile on a social platform posting content that inspires and influences you.
Build games/websites/robots. It's all about testing things out and showing your versatility. If you can, set up and add regular activity to your github account.
Write up or film a submission to a reasonably important/well known case.
These are side projects and will require some extra time to dedicate to them. Some of them sound like assignments, but they can extend far beyond this if you're really interested in the topic. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Finally, for all of these suggestions, make sure you provide these links in your CV/LinkedIn/etc.