Building your Museum Career – Portfolio’s

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Hello! As talked about here I will be posting a series of blog posts on how to ‘kick start’ your career. This post shall concentrate on portfolio’s.

Without further ado let’s discuss why you should keep/build a portfolio of your career to date.

Why should I have a portfolio?

Portfolio’s can enhance your career and job prospects. As well as being a visual and written record of your career so far. You can go to a job interview and say you have done ‘A,B,C.’With a portfolio you have concrete evidence that you actually have done ‘A,B,C’ and aren’t bluffing about your abilities and experience.

What should I include in my portfolio?

The following list is a list of generic things you could/should keep in your portfolio. I shall go on to talk about specific portfolio’s for different museum jobs e.g. Curator of Textiles or Marketing Assistant.

Things to include:

  • Photo’s – Photographs of you archiving, installing an exhibition, assisting visitors. Anything and everything you do in your job or volunteer role should or could be photographed to include in your portfolio. e.g. installing an exhibition like the lady below.images
  • Specific Projects-  Have you been given responsibility to produce an exhibit/marketing leaflet? Include photo’s, research and leaflets of this project in your portfolio.
  • Leaflets-  If you don’t have photographs of your volunteering you could include leaflets of the places you have worked/ volunteered at.
  • Testimonials-  Include references/testimonials from people you have worked with. Especially supervisor’s or curator’s.
  • Articles, Proposals, Papers etc –  Any articles, papers or conference proposals that you have wrote/been accepted to present at a conference.
  • Screenshots –  If you use social media (Twitter, Facebook etc) or have contributed to the building of a website in your job, include screenshots of this work. Screenshots of websites should be edited to only include the website itself. Tweets/ FB posts should be cropped to only show the tweet or FB post. Social media is very important in modern museum practice – so if you can show you can use these mediums, it’s a bonus! Here are some examples of a correctly edited website screenshot, FB post and Tweet.
  • websiteScreenshot of the Victoria & Albert Museum website. facebookFacebook post & Tweets from the East London Suffragettes Festival social media pages. (I volunteer for them.)tweet

Portfolio’s for specific museum jobs:

You should keep a general portfolio you could take to any museum job. However, if you are going for a specific museum job e.g. Assistant Curator of Textiles or Exhibitions Assistant it makes more sense to include examples of work relating to those part particular jobs.

Keeping a diary of your work:

I keep a record of what I do daily in my job and volunteering roles. The diary entries don’t have to be essays – just a few lines on what you do in your job every day. I have found diary keeping an excellent way to recall any skills or training I have received when applying for jobs or volunteer positions.

How to format your portfolio:

The portfolio itself does not have to cost an arm and a leg. My own portfolio cost £12.00 from Amazon. Hardly breaking the bank! Here are some examples:

Make sure to have clear photo’s printed out; no more than three photo’s per sheet. If you have enlarged photo’s of specific work you have done just have one enlarged photo per sheet.

I mounted my photo’s on black paper but cream or dark grey paper can be just as effective. You should try and keep your CV and photo’s at the front of your portfolio- after that the rest is up to  you!

The possibilities of using a portfolio are numerous. You could use it for an interview for an MA in Museum Studies. Or to show fellow museum professionals interested in starting their own portfolio.

I was able to secure my current job as a Curatorial Assistant by using my portfolio. I had photographic and written evidence to back up what I was speaking about at my interview. So what are you waiting for – start making your portfolio today!

The next blog post in the ‘Building your Museum Career’ blog series shall be on ‘Networking!’

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