Dear GIS Guru,

When it comes to a portfolio or describing GIS skills on a resume, how much weight can I give class projects? 

Can I put maps I've created in the portfolio even though they were created for educational purposes?

-Kelly Duncan, Recent Grad, Penn State GIS Certificate Program, Buffalo, NY
Kelly,

Yes, you can and should include GIS projects you've completed as a student when you are first getting started in the GIS field.  As you gain work experience, you can reduce the number of student projects featured in your portfolio.  

Check out the examples below, which show 5 portfolios from different stages in my geo-journey when I had 0, 3, 4, 8, and 10 years GIS work experience.  The timeline starts at present day and works back to 2003, when I was an undergraduate trying to land my first job out of school.  
(I hope you find the earlier versions just as funny as I did.  Luckily, my graphics skills have also improved with time.  Don't miss my very first map, which is featured on the last page of the 2003 Portfolio...I created it with Word and M.S. Paint!) 

Notice how the complexity of projects and responsibilities I highlight increase over time.  You can also check out the Emerging GIS Leaders site for additional portfolio examples and best practices.

Portfolio Examples by Career Stage

Target Outcome

2013 - 10 Yrs
Find a position in geospatial outreach or business development.

Description

Website with an interactive map of outreach events, flippable project portfolio, buzz & blog.

Tools

Explore (links)

Picture
Current Portfolio.
2011 - 8 Yrs
Secure an interview for a specific job opening at Google involving GIS sales.
Zoomable Prezi with several graphics depicting my career path and geospatial management skills.
Picture
Portfolio for a Manager Position, '11.
2007 - 4 Years
Land my first GIS management job at the University of Michigan. 
PDF portfolio with case studies of projects from my first four years as a GIS professional.
Photoshop
ArcMap
Picture
Portfolio for Manager Position, '07.
2006 - 3 Years
Land my first GIS mid-level position with a land use planning firm.
PDF portfolio with projects I completed as a GIS Technician and grad student. 
Basic Graphic Design Program (no longer available).
ArcMap
Picture
Portfolio for Mid-Level Position, '06.
2003 - 0 Years
Land my first GIS job out of college in environmental consulting.
PDF portfolio with projects I completed as an undergrad.
Word
Power Point
Paint
Picture
Portfolio for Entry Level Position, '03.
 


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