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I am looking for entry-level jobs, possibly on-campus. As I've begun searching for jobs, I've started to build a resume and portfolio. With no work experience, the only thing I have to go off on are personal projects. However, one of my strong suits are school papers - I've always done very well on them. My writing professor has suggested a couple of times that I use the papers I've written for interviews. However, I'm not sure of the best way to approach this.

Should I print them out, put them in some kind of binder, and bring them to interviews? How do I broach the subject (i.e., "Would you like to look at some things I've written?") Would the interviewer even care?

I'm not applying for a writing position or anything like that; the projects I've mentioned are web-based and can be found in an online portfolio, the link being on my resume. I've tried to emphasize how I've gained communication, organization and other types of skills through them. But I'm not exactly sure how to fit school papers I've written into the picture.

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    On-campus of what: A university, community college, polytechnic institute, or something else? What kind of work are you wanting to do? While your projects are web-based are you doing architecture, coding, design work or something else? There are more than a few details that may be useful here to know to provide a meaningful answer. On the generic level your papers would show communication skills but does that really answer your question? – JB King Dec 7 '15 at 16:51
  • @JBKing I'm transferring from CC to uni. The job I'm looking at is library assistant. The projects are websites which I coded. From a technical standpoint, it's not very impressive. Rather, the points I emphasized were how I put together research, have basic computer skills and communication skills. (Sorry for the vagueness, I'm trying to avoid leaking personal information) – user44755 Dec 7 '15 at 16:55
  • What type of jobs are you looking for? Part-time student jobs (as "on-campus" seems to suggest)? Internships? Full-time office work? – Lilienthal Dec 7 '15 at 17:03
  • @Lilienthal Yes, part-time student job. Internships are something I'll look into as part of my degree program. I looked at a listing for a full time technical-based job but I'm not confident enough in my abilities to go for it. – user44755 Dec 7 '15 at 17:09
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For entry level, non-writing jobs, you've put in all of the effort necessary.

A link on your resume. A link on your resume to your LinkedIn account. A link on your LinkedIn account to your writing portfolio.

At entry level, the only thing that's going to gum up the works is trying too hard. Like showing up in a tux for a movie theater gig (learned that one the hard way).

  • I hope you mean a suit and not an actual tuxedo... – Lilienthal Dec 7 '15 at 16:55
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    Nope. I had just found a tux at the D.A.V. for 15 bucks, so I figured "this is my first interview, better dress up as much as possible!" – user2989297 Dec 7 '15 at 16:57
  • @user2989297 LOL :P – rahuldottech Dec 8 '15 at 2:39
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In general, there are very few positions where bringing a portfolio is expected of candidates. In the majority of other positions, bringing one will come across as strange or out-of-touch with the industry. If you're in an industry where portfolios are common, you'd already know to bring one. In the few industries where they're uncommon but can be useful, the golden rule is: if you bring it, it had better be amazing. Not just good. Not decent. Amazing. You want to counter the strangeness of having a portfolio by making sure that it truly speaks to your skills. A half-assed portfolio, one with unimpressive work or one that contains blatant errors is a detriment to your candidacy. A well done, relevant portfolio can make you a top candidate.

With that intro out of the way, let's look at your position. You're interviewing for part-time student jobs and the tasks and requirements for those can be all over the place. I would say, don't bring or submit a portfolio unless the job is specifically related: newspaper or writing jobs for your newspaper articles, or IT/web/support jobs for the websites you built.

If your portfolio would be good but not great, even considering your inexperience, I would suggest not submitting it unless you're specifically asked for it. Instead have it available online either in published or downloadable form, at a URL you can remember/write down. Do include this experience on your resume! It shows commitment and experience at office-related work. Be prepared to talk about what you did, what you learned from it, what you (dis)liked and more. Only rarely will you be asked for the actual material: a conversation about your experience will usually suffice for most hiring managers.

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Should I print them out, put them in some kind of binder, and bring them to interviews?

Yes, though you may want to see if there are snippets to pull out that may be more useful if the papers are long, e.g. pulling out a few key paragraphs out of a 20 page paper could be helpful.

How do I broach the subject (i.e., "Would you like to look at some things I've written?") Would the interviewer even care?

If the topic of the paper could be relevant to the work then it could be part of, "This is what I did in college that shows I know a little about XYZ." would be how I'd frame it assuming the papers have some technical component and the job you apply is somewhat technical possibly as a researcher or lab assistant.

The key is to have something that distinguishes you in a positive light here. Being prepared for the interview by having some material that can show off some skills could be handy. At the same time, ever consider being a tutor to help people with their English? That could be another option to earn some money.

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I'm having trouble understanding what type of job you're looking for. It sounds like a coding job so I'll go with that.

It's not unheard of to show sample websites you worked on for a IT related job. I don't think you need to print it out. A simple mentioning of it on a resume is normally enough. Just put a link onto the website on the resume in case they want to look.

I would say visually speaking printing a webpage tells a person nothing. You have to discuss what technologies you used, if you did it yourself or in a team, etc, etc, etc. Those points are made on a resume, not with a print out portfolio.

Edit: I was in the same boat as you in college. I wanted a student job with a professor. It was me, and about 5 other people all going for the same job. The professor wanted a paragraph explaining why I wanted the job and having me solve a problem he had. I did both and got the job. In such a case, I would only write stuff at the request of the professor. If your professor is telling you to write something, that is a good sign.

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