Website for soon-to-be-grad...
February 4, 2009 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about starting a 'blog' or an online 'portfolio' type of website. My primary goal is to showcase projects and things I have worked on for fun and school to potential employers. I want to keep the site professional and technical. Tips or advice?

I am a junior computer engineering student and will graduate a semester early (December of 2009). I have started applying to jobs and have had a couple of interviews. Two of my internships were in web development and I want to showcase some of my work online.

I'm thinking about starting a 'blog' or an online 'portfolio' type of website. My primary goal is to showcase projects and things I have worked on for fun and school to potential employers. I want to keep the site professional and technical.

I also thought of keeping an up-to-date resume on the 'blog'.

For those that have hired recent graduates, did they have a website? Is it a consideration or something you would even look at?

I am planning on using Wordpress and customizing it to my own needs. As a computer engineer, is this acceptable or do I need to roll-my-own? I can definitely do it, I'm just not sure if it's worth the headache.

I would appreciate any tips, advice, or things to avoid.

** I'm using 'blog' loosely because there may be a blog-like aspect to it. Such as, any recent topics that relate to a project I may post or discuss.
posted by jdlugo to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Go for it! One bit of advice I'll offer (as someone who has evaluated the websites that came with prospective employees): If you're a good writer, the fact that you can point to a bunch of good writing is going to be incredibly helpful. If you're not a very good writer . . . well, work hard on the writing.

You, on the screen, expressing yourself with consistent intelligence and clarity, is 80% of what you can accomplish with a website coming out of college into almost anyplace in the job market. Don't worry about being caught with a stock installation of WordPress or whether the projects you're documenting are sufficiently cool -- just focus on being thoughtful and articulate.
posted by gum at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2009

Tips or advice?

1. Register with anyone but GoDaddy.
2. Install WordPress
3. Install a clean, free semantically correct theme like Sandbox or Carrington.
4. Install Contact Form 7
5. Define clear categories for your sidebar
6. Have a very simple top nav bar: Home | Resume | Projects | Contact

Regarding #6, Resume and Contact would be WordPress pages; you can hack the nav bar so that Projects links to the category listing for everything you have filed under the category projects.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

Do not roll your own. Why duplicate the hundreds of thousands of hours that other people have put into perfectly good blogging software? (In my experience "Roll my own" is software developer speak for "I'd rather write software than do whatever this task is.")

Make sure you update it regularly, so it looks current. But not too often so it feels like each post has some depth and isn't just a Twitter feed.

Allow comments, but make sure you have to approve them first. This will keep comment spam off (which will make you look like you care) but still lets people comment, and hopefully shows how you deal with criticism and praise.

Try to keep it focused on you. It's really easy to turn a blog into a link aggregator, especially if you're trying to think of something to post when you haven't done anything yourself recently. But remember the purpose of the site with every post: It's your professional showcase. Only post links to outside stuff if you can add to the link with that you like about it, how it inspired you, what idea it gave you, etc. Don't post a link, post a review of the link.

And every time, before you hit "post", read through your post and make sure that everything you posted is something you'd like an employer to read. Not just today, but ten years from now.
posted by Ookseer at 11:08 AM on February 4, 2009

my vote is against wordpress. way too many headaches for a non-techy person.

consider something simple like indexhibit or even something simpler if you find the right service. don't waste time with technical details when it's getting a job you need to spend energy on.
posted by krautland at 11:31 AM on February 4, 2009

ah, here is the other site I thought about but couldn't remember: you should be able to have your work up and running in an hour flat. no way wordpress setup stuff can beat that.
posted by krautland at 11:33 AM on February 4, 2009

@krautland: for a non-techie person? is that a troll? Setting up wordpress + stock theme takes, literally, around 4 minutes, including download times on an average USian "high speed" connection.

Wordpress is fine, make sure to use a cacheing system so that it won't be 4x as slow as a plain ol' html site would be. If you are using a lot of slideshow images, consider this plugin (and you should donate to this dude who wrote the JS).

If you don't plan on updating regularly, it might be easier just to hack something together with ajax than restyle wordpress into something really impressive.

FWIW: When I was starting out I got a few jobs (freelance and long term both) specifically because of my wordpress theme. (I note that I use wordpress in the footer where applicable)
posted by shownomercy at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: Did this computer engineering student just get called a 'non-techie person'?
posted by kingbenny at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2009

fiiiiine, then I'm the only bongohead who spent all night trying to get the damn thing to run back when I wanted to set up a portfolio page. all I'm saying is there's an easier, quicker way.

troll, pah. trying to help and he calls me a troll. next time someone asks for the nearest starbucks you're gonna tell him to wash his windshield and preheat the car first.
posted by krautland at 3:57 PM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: thanks for all your help!
posted by jdlugo at 4:04 PM on February 4, 2009

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