Texas Tech University

Bridging to the Professional Portfolio

A professional portfolio can be a very useful marketing tool as you move from the MATC to employment as a technical communicator. Unlike a resume—which in the end, is just a basic list of your qualifications—a professional portfolio can show potential employers what you can do. Typically, you can load a professional portfolio to a web space and direct potential employers to it by giving them the URL (usually on your resume and job letter)

The MATC portfolio differs from a professional portfolio you might use on the job market, but it can provide the foundation of a portfolio you might show to potential employers. Because both kinds of portfolios are collections of digital files that can be assembled in different ways for different purposes, you can likely re-use many of the files from your MATC portfolio, simply building a different front-end for your professional portfolio.

In building your professional portfolio, however, consider three important areas of difference between professional portfolios and the MATC portfolio:

  • Rhetorical situations
  • Reflection
  • Delivery & Privacy

Rhetorical situations: MATC – versus – professional portfolio

In building a professional portfolio from your MATC portfolio, recognize how the rhetorical situations of the two portfolios differ. You created the MATC portfolio for a faculty committee assessing your work in relation to stated standards, but you will create the professional portfolio to show how your skills fit the employer's both stated and implied needs. Accordingly, you will need to research and to consider carefully what the employer might be looking for, using stated information like the job advertisement and information you find out about the company's goals, products, or services, as well as unstated assumptions and values such as professionalism.

Reflection in the professional portfolio

The most significant factor arising from this difference in rhetorical situation is the role of reflection. In the MATC portfolio, the assessment committee will look at much at your reflections as at the artifacts you include. The assessment committee will want to hear what you learned from your experiences—even from negative experiences, which can sometimes be great learning opportunities.

A potential employer looking at your professional portfolio, however, will likely be more interested in seeing the products of your work than your reflections on them. Certainly, they would find it odd if you dwelled on negative experiences; the professional portfolio is an employment marketing tool, and most readers would expect it to focus on the positive.

Despite this reduced interest in reflection, however, potential employers will still need contextual information to understand the background and significance of the artifacts you include. So if you choose to minimize the Reflective Analysis, consider contextual explanations. That way, employers will not only see what you've done, but understand how your artifacts fit into the communication situations you designed them for. Employers can then take the small leap between that understanding and imagining what you can do for their situation.

Delivery & privacy

You delivered your MATC portfolio privately to a small group of faculty who will not distribute your portfolio further without your permission. But readers of your professional portfolio will likely have fewer motivations for safeguarding your privacy.

If you are comfortable with showcasing your professional portfolio online to any viewers who might come across it, you can easily upload it to a web server and leave it there, just like any other web site. This might have a positive effect in building consulting or employment opportunities. But if you are uncomfortable about allowing that level of access to your work or if you include proprietary artifacts, you should consider password-protecting the site and limiting the time the password is valid.