March 28, 2023

Tips For The Nervous SOJC Graduate: Creating Your Portfolio and Preparing For Interviews


Author: Sophia Meyer (Twitter @sophiaameyer)


Recently, I took a workshop instructed by Connie Chandler that was aimed to help students prepare for their PR portfolio review. Whether you’re a PR major or not, there were many lessons taught in this workshop that all journalism majors can benefit from as they prepare for job interviews and graduation. What follows are some important takeaways I gained from this workshop:


1. It’s okay if you do not have any real-life professional work to show.

If you do not have a lot of professional work, do not let other students’ experience intimidate you. Through the SOJC we have had the opportunity to work with a number of real-life clients, and doing mock “professional” assignments. These assignments are marketable and can be used in your portfolio.


2. State what your best traits are in both your resume and your portfolio, and find ways to exemplify in your work/experience.

Some desirable traits of entry-level workers are tenacity, trustworthiness, passion, empathy, collaborative, assertive, adaptable, and being a good listener. Find ways to include your most desirable traits in your resume and portfolio, and tell specific stories or examples that prove that you possess these traits.


3. Telling your story, your passions, and showing your personality in your portfolio is encouraged.

You want to do whatever you can to stand out. An employer is going to be interviewing a number of applicants and you don’t want to be forgettable. This is where resume writing becomes so important. If your writing skills are lacking, then you don’t need to panic about this affecting your resume, as you could visit a site like for some guidance. Come up with ways to show off your personality and your story in your resume and portfolio. Companies are not only interested in finding someone who can do the job right, but someone who will fit into their community.


4. Steven Asbury really knows his type fonts. Always pair a serif and sans serif because “they always look good together.”

Fonts are crucial to an overall look and feel of any design. Some of his go-to fonts are: caslon, garamond, franklin gothic, futura, helvetica neue, avenir, optima, baskerville, and didot.


5. Show that you have a wide range of skills. If you are a strong writer, it is okay to highlight that, but show that you are versatile by demonstrating works in other areas such as design or social media strategy.

Infographics may not be your strong suit. Include them anyway, because it may show that you know how to use InDesign, and a future employer could be impressed that you know how to create an infographic from scratch. If it is not your best skill, highlight the fact that you struggle with design but you pushed yourself and your creativity and what you learned from the experience.


6. Results are important. Find a way to somehow quantify your works and experiences, because they will resonate more with your potential employer.

Have you done any form of social media work? Find out what the follow count, average amount of likes, and engagement rate was before you were involved, then calculate what the new numbers were as a result of your contributions. Organize an event? Find out how many people attended, how much money you raised, or how you managed the budget.


7. Take the time to curate your personal brand.

This will take time, and it is harder than you may think. I have included a photo of a personal brand worksheet that you can use to help you determine what you want your personal brand to be.


11 thoughts on “Tips For The Nervous SOJC Graduate: Creating Your Portfolio and Preparing For Interviews

  1. Sophia – awesome blog! It was really interesting and will help a lot of nervous seniors going into Portfolio Reviews soon. The PDF you added to create your own personal brand was a great touch, I definitely plan on filling it out before I go into reviews. After reading this, I’m now interested in taking that class with Connie!

  2. Sophia!! Thank you so much for writing about this. I’m not going to lie I went on and changed the font of my resume.. Thank you for the tips and I will for sure be referencing this in the future!

  3. This is an amazing post and very very helpful! Especially for us seniors who are a little worried about out of college endeavors hahah I will definitely refer back to this post! Thank you so much!!

  4. Great article! I never knew Connie teaches a workshop like this. It seems very beneficial and I am definitely going to look into taking it in the future. Your third point is very relatable. I am currently trying to find way to show my personality through my online portfolio while still remaining professional.

  5. Sophia, thank you so much for sharing this post! I think all SOJC students can pull a lot of value from each point you listed. The key point that resonates with me is the importance of the mock professional assignments made available to students within the School of Journalism and Communication. It can get incredibly intimidating to compare your work with your peers, so resonating the true value of the work we are doing just inside the classroom is a great reminder to have. I also loved your point about the importance of curating your own personal brand. When I went through the portfolio review as a part of the PR sequence last fall, my panel placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of being very consistent, intentional, and pitching yourself. Thanks again for your insight!

  6. Thank you for this great post Sophia! As a senior in the PR program I am anxious on how to better prepare myself for the grown-up world and this was very helpful! I am hoping to take the PR Portfolios class this next term and now I know what to expect. I think this is a great time to post for our blog as well considering we are doing real client work and about to start on our plans.

  7. I love this blog post!! I am definitely marking it as a favorite so I can remember to come back and check this out each time I do an interview! Connie is a genius when it comes to giving tips on Resumes and Cover Letters. The #1 tip you gave is definitely something that I think a lot of students need a reminder of because it can be scarier not having much professional experience, but thankful going through the SOJC we all have gained lots of work experience.

  8. As I begin to think about creating my portfolio next term, I definitely have started thinking about how I can quantify my accomplishments. Numbers are incredibly helpful in conveying information in a digestible form. I’ve noticed when I read articles, I immediately scan to find the numbers (By what percentage did a company’s revenue increase? How many likes and comments did a post get?) so I know that my future portfolio reviewers will be looking for that as well.

  9. This sounds like a great workshop! I like what you said about the desirable traits of entry-level workers being “tenacity, trustworthiness, passion, empathy, collaborative, assertive, adaptable, and being a good listener.” As much as its great to have a robust portfolio that exemplifies these qualities, having these translate during the interview it key! I recently had a friend who graduated with a film degree get hired at an entertainment PR company in LA. He had no prior PR portfolio work, but had great communication skills and showed the hiring manager that he fit with the company culture. This is a great reminder as many of us venture out into the professional world in just a few months.

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