19 Portfolio “Years ago, only artists and other creative professionals had portfolios. These days, every professional can benefit from having one… The real purpose is to provide tangible proof of your value in the workplace.” Chrissy Scivicque, themuse.com Having a portfolio where potential employers can see the projects you have been working on is tremendously important. You do not need a college degree or be a coding genius, but you do need to show that you have a current, hirable skillset. The best way to do that is with an online personal portfolio showcasing projects you built using relevant technologies. In this chapter, we will dive into the details of how to create one for yourself and what you should include in it. What is a Developer Portfolio? A developer portfolio is a webpage that shows a list of the projects you have worked on with links to any live apps you are hosting as well as the code you have written for them. You should also include other types of related experience such as links to talks you have given, open source projects you have contributed to, video tutorials or workshops you have recorded and hosted somewhere like YouTube, and a place with all of your contact information so people know how to reach you. This portfolio is akin to an e-resume that highlights your projects first, and other proof of your experience, it is a living, breathing website to show off your skills that will keep changing as you grow. Go search for ”developer/software engineer portfolio” and look through some examples. Take note of how they are laid out, what information is displayed, and how they are displaying it. While the examples you find may be of varying quality, looking through these will help you get an idea of what you want to include as you build your own portfolio. Don’t worry, your first portfolio does not have to be anything advanced, it just needs to be clean, easy to read, and not cluttered. You can make it look nice and modern just by using enough white space and good fonts (like Open Sans, available for free from Google Fonts). Or you can use your Github profile as I detail below. On my website, I also have a blog post of well-designed portfolio examples for you to check out. Some of them are more creative than others; the list is just there to give you some ideas. If you want to see examples of my portfolios that I used in the past, check out my YouTube video on the topic: youtube.com/watch?v=qcOfJIcKfMk. Using Github for a Portfolio The easiest way to create a good developer profile now is to use your Github account. Github now allows so many ways of cus- tomizing your profile page with a README at the top, the ability to pin projects, and a section for showing off your work in the community. I have always had a separate portfolio in the past, but now, even I do not see an advantage to creating an extra website to house my portfolio. Github gives me everything I need and has saved me a lot of time from building and managing a custom portfolio page. Here is my Github profile if you want to take a look: github.com/gwenf. Here are the steps I recommend for setting up your Github profile: 1.Create a readme: If you notice, the top of my profile page has a section where I say, ”Hi, my name is Gwen…” That is a README.md file that I created specifically to display on my page. You can make one too just by creating a repository on Github with the same name as your username. When you are creating it, just check the ”Initialize this Repository with a README file” box. Then edit the README with the markdown text, images, and emojis that you want and save it. And you are down! You should now have a working README at the top of your Github profile page. Here is the repository that my README comes from if you want to take a look: github.com/gwenf/gwenf. 2.The basics: Use your real name and a professional-looking profile image. 3.Pin your best projects in the ”Pinned” section right below the README you just created. 4.Fill in your green squares: Keep committing code to Github to make a consistent track record; think small and fre- quent commits. 5.Do you have any impressive contributions? You should make it easy for employers to quickly scan through these by linking them in the README. Github will give you a free URL that looks like “[yourname].github.io”. It is fine to use that for your portfolio, but if you have purchased a personal domain like ‘yourname.com’ then you can also point that to your Github page; then link your github portfolio page to your blog which will also be at the same domain (e.g. example.com/blog). That is really all there is to it. You can always make adjustments as you go along and work on more projects and want to show off different skills. TIP: Pay Attention to Your Github Profile Keep in mind that it is not just your profile page that people will be looking at. Most companies will crawl through your Github account to see the projects you created and worked on. Make sure you are showcasing your best work front and center on your pro- file page. Also, if you have code that is not quite ready for anyone to look at, either remove it, set it to private, or add a note to the top of the README.md file that says the project is still under construction and is not in a usable state at the moment. What to Include in Your Portfolio Every time you add an app to your portfolio, you will want to take a clean screenshot that shows off what the app looks like while it is running. Do not take a picture of the code – it will neither look interesting nor be helpful to understanding what your app does. In- clude a link to the Github repository where they will be able to search through the code and understand it. Here is an example: At first, your portfolio should include every app and website you build, including the most basic ones. After you have your first 5-6 projects completed, you can start to be more selective about which ones you want to show off. As you are nearing job-readiness, you should start to consider polishing the apps that you are displaying on your portfolio. A few hours invested into making sure the interface looks clean and runs smoothly will return dividends when potential employers are re- viewing what you built. It is also important to look at the code you wrote and make sure it is clean (e.g. remove any unnecessary code blocks, document how everything works in a README.md file, etc.). Keep in mind that you do not want only boilerplate projects like to-do applications in your professional portfolio. Everyone learn- ing to code builds one of these and you want to do your best to stand out among other applicants when you’re applying for jobs. You should try to highlight a passion project that you have creatively envisioned and built. This will also help when they ask you about it in interviews because your passion will show. If you cannot think of anything creative or original to build, try re-creating a more complex application that you use regularly like a mail service (e.g. Gmail), crowdfunding platform, or marketplace (e.g. Ebay); then put your own spin on it. If you can build a complicated app like the ones I just mentioned, you will impress interviewers and anyone else looking at your portfolio. It is also a good idea to include different types of apps in your portfolio. Do not use the same libraries, designs, and frameworks for everything. Try something new each time. Employers look for people who are adaptable and flexible, and your portfolio should showcase that ability. Shoot for having at least one app in your portfolio where you collaborated on the code with someone else. This could be with your pair programming partner, an open source project, or an app you worked on with other people at a local meetup group. Make sure you have made several distinct contributions (commits) to the codebase. It is extremely important to show companies that you can work with other people and that you have already developed collaboration skills. Working with other people is something you would be doing almost everyday if you went to a coding bootcamp; you can easily get the same experience while learning on your own but you will have to facilitate those collaborations. Conclusion A current portfolio of the best apps you have built and what you are working on is extremely important to have when looking for your first job as a developer. Without actual work experience, most companies will not give you a second glance. You have to make them want to look and see that you have the right skills with a polished, professional portfolio. Action Steps: 1.Perform an internet search for developer portfolios and take some notes about what you find. 2.Follow my guide to creating your own portfolio quickly at gwenfaraday.com/learn-to-code-book/portfolio. 3.If you have a personal domain, point it to your portfolio site. 4.Update your portfolio regularly and make sure you have a good variety of polished apps when you are looking for a job.