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Spring Graduates – build your advertising portfolio now

A guest post by Evan Benner , aspiring agency copywriter.

Evan Benner CopywriterIt’s that time of year again, and I don’t mean holidays or snow. If you’re graduating in spring and already have your heart set on copywriting, now is the perfect time to get cracking on your portfolio site. Once January sneaks up on you, you are going to wish it was already made.

I made that mistake, but replace January with March. If I had the chance to correct one thing about my copywriting internship hunt (and believe me, there are quite a few things), it would be portfolio preparedness. I might have even had an internship lined up as I crossed the stage at graduation if I was better prepared.

Once you have it up and running, it’s less of a hassle to keep it updated. When you have a backlog of material from several semesters hiding in all corners of your hard drive and you need a portfolio practically yesterday, what you can muster up isn’t going to put you ahead of other candidates. It also puts a damper on your application process as you juggle displaying your work, supplementing with new material and drafting slews of cover letters and resumes that are, thankfully, fluttering around on your computer desktop, not your coffee table.

Getting your work together, formatting and arranging it all is half the battle and sometimes even discouraging. Knowing where to look for material that demonstrates your abilities is the first big hurdle.

Don’t forget to consider:

  • Relevant copywriting and advertising coursework
  • Blog posts
  • Published articles
  • Job/Internship work
  • Independently produced material

If you’ve combed through folders of Word docs and PDFs and still feel like you’re falling short, write more! As the old adage goes, “Fake it till you make it.” True creativity is hard to fake, so even if your incredible ideas weren’t real deliverables, that doesn’t mean they don’t reveal something to recruiters and talent managers.

At this point in the game, you’re not at a loss if you don’t own a domain or shell out monthly for a web host. There are plenty of free options available, and the quality of the work you exhibit can outshine a generic layout.

A few great starter options are:

Platforms like WordPress and Tumblr give a lot of flexibility to layouts which can be impressively executed. Community features on some of these sites give an added benefit of potential discoverability. When you get to the point of investing in your site, all of these have upgraded membership that allows for personalized domains and improved interfaces.

If you get your portfolio online before your last semester, you’ll be in great shape and have more attention to devote to drafting impressive cover letters. The letters are going to be what convinces recruiters to even make the jump to your portfolio after all.

Evan Benner graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in Journalism: Strategic Communications, Japanese, East Asian studies.  With skills in copywriting, copy-editing and creative concepts, he is currently seeking an advertising copywriter internship in Chicago.  You can view Evan’s copywriting and advertising portfolio on his website and on Contently.com.

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