Museum Career Skills -- Creating a Portfolio

Museum Career Skills -- Creating a Portfolio
Congratulations! You’ve finally landed an interview at a museum. How do you get them to choose you?

An excellent way to sell yourself at a job interview is a portfolio. But it can be difficult to figure out what should be in it. These are some things to consider when assembling your first portfolio.

Your portfolio should include only things that will showcase your talents. When you are just starting out, you won’t have as many things to include as a seasoned museum professional will, so you might have to be a little more creative about what you choose.

In my first portfolio, I included a paper I wrote for my material culture class about miniature caster sets. I felt it was appropriate because it showed my ability to analyze artifacts. At my college, we had a literary magazine where I was able to publish a chapter of my thesis. That demonstrated my academic side.

At an internship, I had researched the history of the local YMCA using boxes and boxes of primary documents, which was published in their quarterly journal. At another internship, I did a small exhibit on Buffalo soldiers. I included photos of that exhibit, even though it was only one small case. Even if you have only assisted on a project, include photos of it and describe how you contributed.

To round out my experience, I included some brochures of places where I had worked or interned. It allowed me to describe some of my experiences as the interviewer flipped through the pages, even though I didn’t have much physical evidence of my work.

You can include exhibit labels or program plans you’ve written, photos of you giving a tour, or flyers from an event you helped organize.

But how can you get the interview, if you haven’t had a chance to show them your portfolio? Before I landed my second job, I created an online portfolio with photographs of my exhibitions. I included the web address on my resume. This allows you to show them why they should hire you before they even decide who to invite for an interview.

Basically, your portfolio should serve as a compilation of evidence proving to the museum why they absolutely must hire you. If your portfolio seems a bit thin, find another internship or volunteer somewhere. Get more experience in the kinds of things you hope to get paid for someday. That’s the best way to sell yourself!!

You Should Also Read:
Museum Career Skills -- Developing an Exhibition
Finding Your First Museum Job
Museum Employment Resources

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This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.