Re: the portfolio thread

Subject: Re: the portfolio thread
From: judydh -at- total -dot- net
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 09:12:37 -0700

Hi gang (piping up from digest-land with some controversy and

I've recently decided NOT to show my portfolio anymore, and bring
two writing samples instead to my interviews. I liked and was
proud of my portfolio at first. This is what it contained:

-a recent code sample to help counteract the impression someone
once had of me not being technical enough
-full colour print out of an online technical policy for an e-commerce
-site architecture diagram, to point out how much of a site I
wrote and contributed to (the site is now permanently down--so
if you ever do site work, SAVE A COPY!)
-a 4-page marketing newsletter I created, edited and produced
-multiple graphics I've produced on the job (which were initially
threatened to be pulled for proprietary content)
-several e-mails praising my work; unfortunately they do not
state unequivocally that it is MY work they are praising
-an internet site design proposal
-an award of merit for everyone on the team
-three-page sample of technical style
-master's thesis I edited, showing revisions
-PowerPoint presentation
-Technical paper/document from my first, and most scientific,

Conspicuous, VERY conspicuous, is the bulk of the manuals that
I have NOT gotten due to proprietary concerns. This has hurt
my career so much that I've taken it personally; I no longer
feel any pride in my portfolio <sniff>. I cannot show my most
technical material, nor can I show the installation guide or
a very basic SNMP guide, no online help, no code. I also cannot
show my personal web page anymore, because I've found that interviewers
will judge the Personal aspect of that webpage, not on its own
writing and execution merits, but as to my character (what kind
of person has a personal web page, anyway?). This I find offensive,
even more so than the searches that some do over newsgroups and
lists like this one to see if the candate has any, um, ahem,

I estimate the absence of this sample, and the rigorous demand
for it, has set my career back six months of experience (because
first I can't show some good stuff, and then I miss opportunities)
and at least one year of salary. Some places just don't offer
the job, and some companies are firm about offering less money
than average and state they will increase it later with performance.
I don't mean to complain, and I must learn how to handle these
situations better because they are very discouraging. I am merely
alarmed at the value placed on a portfolio.

Why do I consider it a solution to only include one or two samples
at an interview? Because it _is_ a lot to expect that you have
proof for every type of document you can do. And because my samples
are sufficiently limited that if I show the bulk of my work and
let it be assumed that it is, and is only, my best work, it is,
in my own opinion, underwhelming. I would rather show two solid
samples and state what else I can do than show something at best
half-related and not be able to control the extrapolation they

Yeah, I think Andrew and Barry's right about forgetting about
the big's that average salary that's got me worried!

Jane S.

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