I paid little attention to the importance of building a portfolio at the start of my career, and I wish I had known better. The key repercussion is doing so much and having nothing to show for it. Like a mentor recently told me, not having a personal portfolio is like having a company, doing so much, and not showcasing the things you have done so that potential clients can know your capabilities without even breaking a sweat. A portfolio practically makes life easy for yourself and the companies scouting for good hands. However, doing it right is as important as having one.
I have no intention of dwelling on the importance of having a portfolio in this post, as my main objective is to let you understand how to do it right; therefore, I will go straight to the point. I felt the importance of sharing this while realizing people have made some mistakes that have negatively impacted their career or job search. I have also received a few questions from some of my mentees on this topic and thought I should share my opinion on them.
Don’t restrict yourself to one platform.
Why would you do that? Why? The more, the merrier, right? Some may have a contrary opinion because of the time it takes to put all these together, but I feel it is worth it, and if you strategically choose the right ones and effectively use them, you will always stand a better chance in your career. As far as I know, this should give you more visibility as long as you pay attention to the quality of what you share across these platforms. Here are the few ones to consider:
Personal Website: In my view, this is one of the finest choices, if you can afford it, as it gives your personality some nice, lovely color. Once you see yourself as a brand, you should treat yourself as such. Having a website gives you the room to be flexible and for people to have the chance to know more about you personally and professionally. Don’t get me wrong, of course, you can do without a website as it is not a requirement to get a job, but the truth is that it can enhance your opportunities. It also gives you the chance to link other platform portfolios like Kaggle, Tableau, Github, etc., which makes it easy for anyone to do a quick scan of all your work, and then click further to view anyone that interests them, wherever it is on the net. Overall, having a website gives a classic touch to your brand.
Kaggle: The beautiful thing about Kaggle is that you do not just have a platform to build and host your portfolio, you can add some information on your background, participate in competitions and make contributions, which you can showcase on your Kaggle platform. It also scores you based on your contribution overtime on the platform, which is like a gaming system displaying the stage you are in your career as a data professional. I believe Kaggle is a platform that should drive anyone to do more in their career since we are naturally drawn to competition.
R-Markdown or Jupyter Notebook: These are both open-source applications where you can create a report with your code and share them publicly. R-markdown works with the R program and; while most developers or data professionals use Jupyter Notebook to write Python code, it supports other languages like R, Matlab, Scala, Java, and so on. Additionally, these are good platforms to share your narratives, the codes, visualizations, and equations of any project completed.
Github: You know I can’t complete this without mentioning Github for those who already know. However, if this is your first time hearing this name, it is a platform that serves as a code repository for most developers, data scientists, machine learning engineers, etcetera. You can upload your python or R codes, markdowns, and notebooks and then share your profile for employers to see.
Integrity matters, don’t Joke with that!
Integrity is of utmost importance, so make sure you are sharing your work and not the work of others. If you didn’t build that beautiful dashboard on tableau, it is not your property, so don’t claim it! It is acceptable to get ideas and inspiration, but it is unacceptable when you directly copy or modify someone’s work a little bit so you can claim it as yours. It is better not to have a portfolio and rely on your resume alone than to copy the work of others. That is morally wrong!
Get permission if it is a project you completed at your previous or current workplace
Don’t be mistaken or assume that the project you completed in your current or previous place of work is yours. It legally belongs to the organization you work for or have worked for unless you like the idea of being sued. In most cases, you may be allowed to share a screenshot and a little nugget on the project objective, what you did, steps you took, applications you used, but not the link to the whole project unless it is public property or you have permission to share. Anyway, ensure you get direct permission if you want to share the link to the project, and don’t just assume!
Take full responsibility of what you are publishing
Most of us have this misconception of just going ahead to use any data as long as it is an open dataset without confirming the quality of the data we are using. Don’t send out the wrong information due to the low-quality data you have used for your project. It is okay if it is data you have collected yourself since you know how it was collected, but be ready to take full responsibility for any insight you are sharing from the data. Also, ensure you have gotten the right permission on the data you are using and attribution added as necessary.
Are there other things you think is necessary to consider when building a portfolio? Please share in the comment section.