A Career Magic Wand: 8 Ways to Leverage Your Portfolio

by Niké Basurto, MSW, CAE


Hermione Granger, Wand Wielder Harry Potter

Sometimes I wish that Hogwarts existed and that magic wands were really a thing. After creating brownies that didn’t make you gain weight, I would really like a magic wand to help guide me through my career. Seriously, take a second to think about it. Would you ask for easy breezy interviews? Or maybe you would ask for a magical resume or a “Room of Requirement,” where project ideas would just magically appear on demand?

It’s not made out of unicorn hair and an oak branch, but your work portfolio can be almost as useful as a magic wand for your career. Your work portfolio (sometimes referred to as a career portfolio) is a set of professional products you’ve created that showcase your learning and development and/or organizational development skills. In TRDV 499 Professional Portfolio, a required course in the Graduate Program in Training and Development, we organize and fine-tune our portfolios based on projects completed throughout the program.

Okay, back to the magical powers of your work portfolio. How are some ways to leverage your portfolio outside of getting a great grade in TRDV 499? Glad you asked!

A Work Portfolio Can…

Give you an advantage in a job search by:

  • demonstrating your experience
  • showcasing your skills
  • standing out from other applicants

Give you an advantage in interviews by:

  • showcasing your potential value to the organization
  • giving you a reference point to connect your work product as a solution to their pain points
  • bridging the gap between past work experiences and future career aspirations

Boost your current work situation by:

  • demonstrating new ideas and solutions for your department or organization
  • promoting your value which you could leverage for a pay raise or promotion
  • revealing skills you are able to contribute to expand your future opportunities in the organization

Portfolios can be web-based or electronic documents. You might want to print out some samples for interviews or to share with decision makers in your organization. Some organizations are even requesting work portfolios as part of the job application process.

There you have it, the magic of your work portfolio! Go forth an use your power wisely.

Building a Work Portfolio Instructional Design
Building a General Work Portfolio ( a little dated, but good overview)
Sample Instructional Design Work Portfolio
Case for TRDV Portfolio Form Completion

Thanks to Harry Potter for the magic wand inspiration.

Also, a very special thanks to current students, graduates of the TRDV program and other professionals who responded to my LinkedIn request for contributions to this post:

Mary Channon, MATD
Tom Ford, CSOP
Kerri Leo, MATD, CAE, CHCP
Amy Lyons, MATD
Howard Prager
Ute Westphal, MBA

Let’s Continue the Conversation
Are there other ways a work portfolio could be useful?
What are some work portfolio pitfalls to avoid?

Version 2Niké (Nee kay) Basurto, MSW, CAE
Niké is a seasoned nonprofit professional transitioning into instructional design and training with a passion for organizational development, dancing, laughing, fabulous live music, and a great meal. Currently, she is a full-time student in the MATD program at Roosevelt University and is thoroughly enjoying working as a Graduate Assistant for the Training and Development department.  Feel free to connect with and follow her:



  • A Career Magic Wand: 8 Ways to Leverage Your Portfolio
    After reading this article, it helped me to not look at the TRDV 499 portfolio as this SCARY MONSTER or sticking with the theme in this article, it was similar to the “Lord Voldemort or the Death Eaters” in the Harry Potter movie. Mainly like it shows in this article, the TRDV 499 portfolio is something that I can use as my future resume or even a leg-up in such a competitive world of training. Who knows where I will be in a few years to come and this portfolio can be my trademark to help me standout. I mainly felt intimidated or fearful of the portfolio because I made it as such a large task to complete in my head, but if I just keep it simple and take it step-by-step with constructing it, I will be fine.
    Thank you!


  • I totally agree that having a portfolio is critical to demonstrating your skills when interviewing for a new job or seeking a promotion, but what about using it to help inform new or current clients about the required steps in the process? I have found that clients often think that learning interventions only include the final deliverable and I think it’s critical that they understand the milestone deliverables required in each phase (ADDIE) along the way. Do you agree?

  • What great insight! I’m new to the program this year and just completed my first portfolio-worthy project. I was hoping to find a way to make my portfolio stronger, and I am so glad you wrote this piece. Thank you so much!

  • This is a great article. Being a Recruiter, I can attest to the importance of a well-organized career portfolio. Online portfolios are becoming more common. LinkedIn has become a very popular forum to showcase work samples. Thanks for the information.

  • Thank you for sharing resources for creating a portfolio! I am new to the MATD program and it scares me a little to think that by the end of the program I will have a portfolio. Perhaps reviewing the resources you share will help me get on the right track and ease my mind a little.

  • Awesome Article! This really helped me out so much. I have a lot of things to take into consideration. I am so eager to take the TRDV 499 class now!

  • Developing a Professional Portfolio is something that I see being a huge benefit for any individual moving into their respective fields, or even to pursue more education. It’s important to have a tangible representation of what you are able to do in a role prior to even stepping foot in the door. This simply enhances the traditional resume which oftentimes does not give the extra edge to pursue a new career, degree, speaking engagements, and the ability to get published in text.

  • Thank you for laying out all the advantages of a work portfolio and it also gives me a better idea of how to create my own.

  • Thank you for posting the resources! I have been getting a bit anxious about preparing a portfolio. The resources help.

  • Such a wonderful way to frame things! I have to admit that I had been dreading TRDV 499 and trudging through portfolio creation. I had no idea is would be a celebration of all I have accomplished through the TRDV program! As usual your take on things is exactly what I needed. Thank You!

  • Thank you for the tips because I definitely need to build a work portfolio because I am very new to Instructional Design.

  • Hi Nike! Thanks for sharing the fabulous ideas on how to use your portfolio to present yourself in the best light with potential employers. Reading this after conducting mock interviews and resume reviews for student teachers/teacher candidates, an idea I shared with them about their portfolios may apply here. I suggested they video themselves multiple times during their teaching experience. Then take the best segments and create a video link to share with principals. So they can actually be seen doing the work of the position they are applying. As someone who hired teachers, being able to see a candidate in action with students, along with the interview process, was always more powerful than the interview alone.
    Thanks again for the wonderful ideas.

  • I have not consider a work portfolio until now. Great post and I can see the advantages when telling one about your skill and experience in areas of expertise.

  • Hi Nike, great post so fitting for me who still have to complete that particular course. I would like to comment on the questions. Are there other ways a work portfolio could be useful? I think that the portfolio can be handed to a coach that you have acquired to identify your strength when considering a career change. This provides insight into work that you have done and could possible detect a career transition for you as well into a new area of concentration.
    What are some work portfolio pitfalls to avoid? I think that we have to avoid not documenting enough on the form that we need to complete at the end of our courses. I can look back from the beginning of the program and know that there are a few that I could have documented better. Please make sure that you document well after each course going back to remember that work is going to be a headache. Thanks for the blog great subject.

  • Great Job Nike! I like the useful tips you offered for TRDV 499. I will be taking that course for the Spring and look forward to the class even more now.

  • Nike, great post. We ask the people we train on every field work day if they could wave a magic want and fix what happened on the sales call or with this account what would it be? It is a great question to ask because it helps people think outside the box and realize what is possible.

  • Nike, great job! I knew you were a rockstar! Thanks for all the info!


  • Nike, Great info, I was unsure on how I was going to use my portfolio, Thanks for posting this, it gives me some clear direction.

  • Great points Nike!! Thanks so much for referencing me, too! 🙂 I’m looking forward to creating my own portfolio and your post actually gave me some much needed motivation. Thanks again! 🙂

  • I love it, Niké!

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