Don't let this happen to you:
I had to attempt to put together a presentable portfolio in about a week. This was challenging, as I’ve not had need of a physical portfolio before, and I needed to pull it off without a hitch. I failed at it miserably, and here’s some reasons why:
1.) Have money for color
The first was the fact that my portfolio would have cost me between $45-90.00 to print out in full color. While I have little compunctions about doing so, I simply did not have the resources to do it (at the time I had just over $15 in the bank, and much less now). What’s even more strange, though, is that I found that I really don’t know anyone locally with a full color printer. At my previous job, if I needed anything in color I would ask the boss if I could use his printer (a rather beefy CMYK laser printer) and never for a moment thought about alternatives to that. Instead, I had to print out black and white laser versions of my work which really doesn’t capture the essence of the product. I made the wise decision to spend $8.60 of my $15 on bright white extra heavy paper, though, so it was less concerning to see the facing page text through the paper.
2.) Invest in business cards
The second snag was that I apparently don’t have any up-to-date business cards. These are crucial little pieces of self-marketing that essential for making those in-roads, and all of mine are either old, embarrassing, or emblazoned with the logo and contact info of my former employer. I put an extra copy of my complete resume in the packet, but I didn’t have the time (or money for that matter) to have more business cards printed.
3.) Have finished samples from previous employment
Snag number three was that I don’t have any of the printed work I created for my former employer. There were no catalogs, pamphlets, or manuals in finished form. I mean, I have the files, but as far as being printed on photo paper in full color, no such luck. This is only somewhat irritating as I have the files, except for the fact that I can’t afford to have them printed in color (and even if I did, it wouldn’t be a large run).
4.) Have video? Make sure that you have DVD software
The fourth (and probably least important) snag was that I could not include a DVD of my videos. These weren’t a requirement for the job, and probably wouldn’t have “wowed” them, but it is a skill listed on my resume and would have been nice to include. I put a link to the videos in my portfolio, but having the DVD would have been better. Now you may be asking yourself, “Surely, he has at least one blank DVD lying around, why wouldn’t he include it?” You would be right in that assumption; I have a few dozen blank discs staring me in the face as I write this. Before any other theories arise, the DVD+-R drives on both my desktop and laptop computers are in perfect working order, so that doesn’t factor in, either. The real reason is one of simple erroneous assumptions made by me about the software I have. When I have made videos in the past, it has always been for upload on YouTube. My videos and projects are made this way from the start. The workflow usually consists of: Filming, importing into Adobe Lightroom (which takes forever, but allows me to organize and meta tag my clips), enhancing in Adobe After Effects, tweaking audio in Adobe Audition, editing in Adobe Premiere, and finally exporting and converting in Adobe Media Encoder. Here’s the kicker: NONE of those programs allow you to create a DVD suitable for a player. I have another program that came with my analog signal capture device, but here’s the other kicker: None of the formats from Adobe Media Encoder are apparently compatible with this software (it won’t recognize H.264, MPEG2, and any MOV or AVI wrapper I could find). I found another, now out-of-date program from Adobe called Encore which will apparently do the job, but I downloaded this literally minutes before I had to leave for my interview and had no time to create a DVD menu or burn it. I am now playing with the program to have it ready for future portfolios (although I doubt that I will have the funds to have those printed professionally, either).
What I did was burn all the materials that I included to a DVD so that they could view them in full color as needed. I put the description of the DVD inside the folder’s business card spot to help mask the fact that there wasn’t anything there, and then apologized profoundly and multiple times to the interviewer for not being able to afford color. It was not impressive.
So that was much of my week and my entire weekend. I'm already working on the next one.