Architecture Portfolios: 6 Tips

Architecture portfolios are essential tools for an architectural student or professional. In some cases it's the only real "snap-shot" of your talent and experience that potential employers or school admissions offices will ever see. In all cases it's an opportunity for a sparkling first impression. Utilize the tips below to make your first impression unforgettable.

Tip #1: Choosing a Design

The type of portfolio you need will depend on how you intend to use it. Are you:

  • looking for an internship, 
  • applying for school,
  • applying for your first job,
  • looking for a new job or
  • looking for freelance opportunities?

There's no right or wrong way to organize your career portfolio but to make it a useful tool, determine its purpose first. Then organize your portfolio to sell your talents as potential student, first time employer or whatever career goal you're facing, featuring the projects that will appeal to the portfolio viewers.

Tip #2: Choosing a Presentation Medium

Consider the type of presentation you want your career portfolio to provide for anyone viewing it. You can prepare a portfolio that:

  • can be viewed on-line,
  • used as a presentation in a face-to-face interview,
  • is a hard-copy leave behind or application attachment or
  • as a collection of samples for a potential client to view.

In many cases you'll need a versatile portfolio that you can adjust into more than one medium. Choose the form that you'll need immediately and most frequently first. Once it's finished and available to use, knock out the other forms one at a time.

Tip #3: Include a Variety of Skill-Representing Samples

Portfolios should show off all the different kinds of projects you've worked on and the scope of your skill set. Concentrate on providing a variety of your best samples. That usually means being willing to edit out the samples that may be your personal favorites but not your top work features. Organize them in a foundational manner so that the skills clearly show development of ability over time.

Tip #4: Include Career Development 

Potential schools, employers and clients want to work with architects that are current and ambitious. Include any continuing education, career development or professional associations you have taken part in to give your viewers a clear picture of the motivated, hardworking, up-to-date professional you are. Make sure this is an area that you can update and add to as your career progresses.

Tip #5: Provide Visual Recommendations

Instead of waiting for the portfolio viewer to decide if you're worth requesting professional references, bring it directly to them. Have your top references available as part of your portfolio to show potential employers, clients and administrators that you have made tangible impressions on those you've worked or studied with to date. Review these recommendations periodically and keep them current.

Tip #6: Let Your Portfolio Be An Example of Your Architectural Style

Simple, clean, clear style that has vision, insight and is well-built is what your portfolio should represent. Forget fancy smoke-and-mirrors portfolio design that may trick employers into looking twice. Let your work speak for itself.