Want a Job? Build Your Portfolio!

In my email signature I have a link to the new Video Game Design and Entrepreneur class I’m starting in a couple of weeks.  It’s going to be awesome, and a lot of fun.  (by the way, the youngest student is 7, the oldest is in his 60s… it might be just the class for you, too)

Today I was on a call with a business associate who noticed the line in my signature.  Her son will be in college soon and is looking at graphic arts programs…. she asked for any advise I had on breaking into the video game world (not programming, but with graphics).  This is actually a great question, and we had a fun conversation.

The gist of the conversation was this: to get into that space, or any space, really, you should build a portfolio.

How powerful would it be to go to a potential employer and have the same credentials as the other people on the shortlist: a degree, a portfolio from school, etc., but also have a portfolio of video games that are on the market and available for download?  If you want to get into a video game design firm, and you have at least one game that you have designed, and people have downloaded it (and even rated it), isn’t that a great way to show your passion and skill level?

She mentioned that he didn’t want to do programming, his passion was in design.  I suggested that going through the course would give him an additional breadth that would help him break down walls with programmers.  I know a lot of programmers who don’t like working with graphics artists because of the way the two roles work.

Think about this with your own career and job search.   What have you done so that a company you are interested in can understand your skills and professional passion?

Artists have known this for years… having a portfolio is just the way it is.

Can accountants (who are in transition) have a portfolio?

How can you substantiate, or allow others to visualize, your skill set?  What do you got that is more impressive than a list of credentials?

(I think I know the answer for any profession, but what do you think?)