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I am currently a University student on a 12 month internship, before returning to University for a final year. My questions is, how useful would it be to create a portfolio of home projects that can be used to support a CV for that first graduate job?

Are there any employers on here that have any thoughts on this and also what level of work should be on display? I'm thinking of going down this route to make me stand out from a lot of other candidates. As a mature graduate (34 when I graduate), I think any slight advantage is a must.

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closed as off-topic by gnat, GlenH7, Kilian Foth, Glenn Nelson, MichaelT Dec 20 '13 at 2:49

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I think if your home projects contributed in any way, or has source code available that the community has worked on (open-source projects), then by all means include it.

What you should however NOT do is put every single little project that you did on your CV. It makes one seem desperate. If the project was quite a substantial amount of work and can be seen somewhere in the world, sure. If it is just something you hacked together, and no-one has visibility of it, no.

The fact that you are a mature graduate already counts in your favor (in my opinion). It shows that you have had time to really understand and get to grips with what it is in life that you want to become / achieve. Employers see this as a good thing (correct me if I'm woring), because there is less chance of you leaving after a year to persue some other direction.

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Hi, thanks for the response (and the kind words about my age :) ) To be honest, I was going to go down the route of small home based projects, maybe I will re think that now. I had not really considered any open-source as I am not sure that I am at that level yet? Would you know if there are open-source projects that those early on in their programming developement can contribute to? Is there any particular online resource for open source projects that you can recommend? Thanks again. – Darren Young Dec 15 '10 at 11:40
@Darren Young - Have a look at this post on SO :… - All about getting started contributing to open source :) – Nico Huysamen Dec 15 '10 at 11:44
@Nico, just one further point. Instead of putting a list of a load of small projects that I have worked on. How would it be considered, if one would include a web link that showcases a number of select projects that you have created? Thanks. – Darren Young Dec 15 '10 at 14:06
"... was quite a substantial amount of work..." or was centered on a non-standard problem domain. I got a job because the interviewer was impressed that I implemented the bell-lapadula (BLP) file-access security model as a project in school. The study and implementation of which only took 2-3 weeks. – Steve Evers Dec 15 '10 at 16:05
@SnOrfus - I do not always equate the substance of a projec to the time it took to do it. But as you mentioned, non-standard domain problems are excellent (if your future employer knows about the field). – Nico Huysamen Dec 16 '10 at 5:30

Having been on the other side of the fence, i.e. on the recruiting side, I can safely say that good programming portfolios are very useful, since that would place you on top of the big pile of applicants. This is probably the easiest way to get yourself noticed among other programmers since only very few do produce a portfolio for recruiters. In my experience I've only seen two who had a portfolio among 200+ applications, this means that in my sample for statistics only less than 1% do this.

There are some caveats though that you shouldn't do:

  • Do NOT EVER put homework assignments in to your resume/portfolio. They're so easy to recognize, have very little practical value and also expose yourself to do bad practices. This will leave your application stamped with a NO HIRE right out of the bat.

    As an anecdote; some guy who sent us code in desperation gave us the classic OO school book example of Car with no main-method to run the code with. Our reaction was "seriously?".

  • Do NOT put irrelevant projects, programs or scripts that have no practical use other than for your own. Mostly this is a good way to filter out what to put into your programming 'folio.

What you should do:

  • If you've done a window application or web application then put some screenshots on your portfolio. It doesn't matter how ugly your application looks, only that you've done something. It is helpful if you also describe what you've done with the application.

    Anecdotally; we hired a backend programmer who was the only one among the applicants who did this.

  • Describe the project as a quick elevator pitch. I.e. write about it in as few sentences as you possibly can. This is to help the recruiters a bit, who are short on time going through the applications. This will also give you a chance to tell about your contributions in greater detail.

  • Do have an account on social coding sites, such as github or bitbucket, and have some projects up. Link from your portfolio to the most relevant projects. This will give the employers a chance to have a quick look at your code and also give you a chance to practice version control (probably one of the most important skills you'll ever need).

A portfolio doesn't have to be a big thing. For a software developer it should basically be a list of projects that you've done that you can passionately talk about what your contribution was. If you've made this list then you're already ahead of what most applicants do when they send in their applications. Putting in code and/or screenshots is an extra plus, really. Just don't overdo it, recruiters still have to go through heaps of applications so keep it simple. ;)

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Most people don't have portfolios because the work they did for the companies who hired them is proprietary. – Robert Harvey Feb 24 '12 at 19:55
@RobertHarvey - agreed, but there are always side projects, contributions to open source projects, tools for the web, apps in the Android MarketPlace or App Store, pro bono work for nonprofits, etc. – Scott Wilson Feb 24 '12 at 21:55

I agree that you should only list a personal project on your CV if it is something significant, publicly available, and is being used by other people.

On the other hand, once you actually get an interview, it makes perfect sense to talk about some of your personal projects. For instance, I was once asked this question on an interview: "Tell us about a design that you've come up with, that you are especially proud of." If you have a personal project with a particularly clever design, that this would be the time to mention it.

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Online Portfolio is a better ground to Expose

  • Your various interesting code samples
  • Platform/language exposure
  • Cool little apps that you have done
  • Along with some serious open source contributions.Ever wonder why some
  • Your English language skills.Yes it reflects your work and is important.

Developers specifically have development blogs and online portfolio.

Having one Big project shows your commitment and contribution towards dedicated goal.Its all good. but why limit yourself.It wont hurt to show other things additionally.

But additionally having little works of other stuff you worked on varied platforms shows your exposure,interest to learn/work on new stuff.

You do the above in an online portfolio and provide a link to in your resume.Doing this will give the chance for potential employers to view the topics of their interest without bias.

If you mention all the little stuff in your resume It gives the impression you are trying to pad your resume.And Bring to notice things that might not be relevant to their needs and give the impression you might maybe lack interest to expertise in the area they need.

Its the Nature of viewing that makes all the difference.I.e You submitting something for their review or Them viewing your work out of their generated interest or piqued curiosity.

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Two suggestion:

1) if you add a link of web site, please, be sure it works! It should be really awkward for you.

2) write what was your responsibilities for every single project. If the projects are simple web sites and you are not trying to apply as any creative position, in my opinion, you can exclude the portfolio from your resume. Instead, explain what you did during your internship and what were your responsibilities.

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