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I'm a recent CS grad.

I'm currently building a portfolio website with ASP.Net 5. So far, I've completed registration with email confirmation, login, and partially completed the profile page. The application uses Ajax to avoid doing that new page load for every single edits. I plan on implementing pages like Home, About, Resume, Contact, Blogs, etc. with some parts of it that only accounts with administrative access (admin already implemented) can edit. I can't build a complete social media application because it'd require way too many lines of code and everything is being built ground up without borrowing templates. I did borrow a few boilerplate lines of code for things like uploading pictures and a couple of JS scripts for front-end exclusive tasks.

I think it looks fairly impressive for something that I spent less than a month working on and coding ASP.Net for the first time, while working a full-time job. The design is sleek. The code is neat. I haven't detected any bugs. I've tested each functionalities extensively. And I'm learning a lot as I develop. I'm also getting quite a bit of practice with front-end designs using bootstrap.

But I've looked through other people's portfolio websites. All of them look very simple. No server-side functionalities. Most of their sites' contents look like they were written in static HTML pages. Or maybe they used some sort of a website design service.

Am I wasting my time with my portfolio website? I'm worried that employers will just glance at it without checking out the server-side functionalities baked into it. Or that it might even harm my employment prospects (maybe employers prefer simple portfolio websites or projects that have more specific utility other than showcasing coding skills?).

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    I'm worried that employers will just glance at it - yes, employers will have a huge stack of resumes and portfolios to get through. Assume they will spend about 5 seconds looking at it. If you can't get your point across in that amount of time, you made it too complicated.
    – Seth R
    Aug 9, 2022 at 15:26
  • I can give them an access code that allows them to register an admin account. Then they'd have full access to all the edit functionalities of the website. Almost everything is editable by an admin, so admins can see that most of the site's contents are non-static. Also, each non-admin user have their profile pages that they can edit. Of course, the source code is being regularly updated on GitHub too.
    – James
    Aug 9, 2022 at 15:27
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    You are massively overestimating how much time an employer is going to spend on your application (at first glance anyway). If you tell me I have to create an admin account to see what you can do, that's too much work and I'm moving on. Aug 9, 2022 at 15:31
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    I just wanted to point out that I've been a web developer for 6 years, held 3 different jobs over this time and never had a portfolio of any kind. It hasn't held me back or even really crossed my mind. You're probably putting a lot more effort into this than you need.
    – Kichi
    Aug 9, 2022 at 20:07
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    "I can give them an access code that allows them to register an admin account. Then they'd have full access to all the edit functionalities of the website." I can't help thinking that showing a willingness to email an admin password to a complete stranger should be an instant fail on the interview process.
    – Simon B
    Aug 10, 2022 at 10:59

2 Answers 2

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You need to distinguish between a portfolio and a project.

  • The point of a portfolio is to give a fairly shallow sample of the broad set of experience you have.
  • The point of a project is to show that you have in-depth knowledge of a fairly narrow set of skills.

"Built this portfolio website" can absolutely be an entry in your portfolio, but it is not a replacement for a portfolio.

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  • Does a portfolio project have to have some sort of a societal utility? What confuses me is that if employers are just looking for what skills their applicants have, I don't know why I can't just combine that with my portfolio website and it'd be just as effective as if I built some random E-Commerce or social media application with limited functionalities.
    – James
    Aug 9, 2022 at 15:29
  • My reasoning is that my portfolio website is entirely original so there's very little room for suspicion of plagiarism.
    – James
    Aug 9, 2022 at 15:33
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    A portfolio has one point and one point only: to get you an interview. The interview is where you demonstrate your skills, not the portfolio. Aug 9, 2022 at 15:33
  • So what I'm doing now should have no disadvantage compared to any other project?
    – James
    Aug 9, 2022 at 15:35
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    It's fine so long as you do it in addition to actually having a portfolio I can look at and understand in less than 5 minutes, not instead of. Aug 9, 2022 at 15:51
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I'm a recent CS grad.

[...]

Am I wasting my time with my portfolio website?

Yes, you are. You graduated. You have a certification from an instution that vetted you for years, with classes, participation requirements, and written exams.

If that is not enough for an employer, they won't be persuaded by a web app they cannot even be sure you did it yourself.

A portfolio is for people that have no other way to prove they can do what they say they can do. It's a best effort of showing your skills when you cannot show anything else. You don't need that. You have proof. You graduated.

Apply for jobs. That is the only way to get a job. And a college degree should be fine for any entry level job.

If you want to practice programming, do whatever is fun. Nobody ever needs to see it. You will find that doing something for fun and being motivated to do it will teach you a lot more than being bored to death by something you feel you have to do for someone else. You will have plenty of that in your life, I can promise you that much, at least wait until you get paid for it.

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  • The most direct route to getting a job is applying and interviewing. The best thing to prepare for the interview is interview practice. I'd spend my time doing that rather than working on a portfolio. Vanity portfolios are fine, and I have one myself, but working directly on the thing you need to land a job is going to be more efficent. Aug 10, 2022 at 14:07
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    Portfolios are near-mandatory for almost all visual design positions. No better way to show what you do than showing it. So it's not just for people with no other way to prove themselves, it's for particular jobs. They're simply not very relevant for rank-and-file developers, since they'll be adapting to the code style and policies of their employer.
    – Therac
    Aug 10, 2022 at 17:26
  • I would not say he wasted his time. He has gathered experience. The main result however, is not the portfolio but thinking through and designing this project.
    – kedavle
    Aug 12, 2022 at 4:50

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