Newhouse Insider: Personal Portfolio Workshop

Oh, look, how fancy, this person has a website.

Adriana Rozas Rivera

Before, when I met folks with websites, it never once occurred to me to put one together— or that I could even figure out how to. This wasn’t a big deal when I used to be a science major. Career counselors tell you to focus on your research, your resume, your LinkedIn. No one ever mentioned building a website. The minute I left science and started a career in communications, that changed.

Recruiters, professors, friends, everyone asked for my website. But the most I had ever coded was on Tumblr and there’s a reason I’m doing a master’s in journalism and not in computer science. I am the opposite of “techy.” Newhouse offers website design courses, but that seemed like pure torture. Without taking a full-semester class, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get a site up and running but I knew I had to.

When I got the email about the MND, MNO, and AJC Personal Portfolio Workshop, helmed by Professor Adam Peruta, it seemed like a blessing from the website building gods. For those who don’t want to take a full website design class, this workshop shows you how to build your portfolio site via Squarespace. This means NO CODING! Plus, if you take the workshop, the Magazine, News, and Digital Journalism department will reimburse you up to $75 toward the cost of website hosting.

After taking the workshop this semester and having a site 100% completed, I can finally say I highly recommend you take advantage of this workshop in the future if you can (FYI: this year it was restricted to juniors, seniors, and graduate students). During a normal year, the workshop would be in-person. For us, it was fully virtual, and we had the whole semester to build our site at our own pace, which was nice. I’ve been working on it for over a month now, getting feedback from peers, tweaking it little by little.

The “workshop” was a 5-page PDF sent out to those of us that signed up that has four videos and supplemental text instructions. You don’t have to sit on Zoom and listen to a professor talk you through Squarespace. It’s sort of a DIY version of the workshop. The four videos made available for those taking the workshop are: Planning and Examples, Signing Up with Squarespace, Picking a Domain Name, and Using the Squarespace Editor. I found myself using the videos mostly and felt that I could put together my site without needing much external help. (Anything not covered in the videos that might come up, like embedding podcasts or other types of media, is a quick Google search away.)

I thought the videos were a good length (around 10-11 minutes long) and engaging. I was worried they would be too long and I would zone out. I was also scared that Squarespace would be difficult and unintuitive for someone like me (with no website design experience) to pick up. While it has its quirks, I thought Squarespace was pretty easy to learn.

If there’s one thing I could complain about, it’s that because it was virtual, we didn’t have a professor giving constant advice throughout the building process. If you take a class or take this workshop in person, you might be able to engage more and have back and forth discussions with the professor on your site and content. Luckily, I asked Prof. Peruta for advice and feedback via email, which worked well.

Overall, I’ve had a fantastic experience with the workshop and it really didn’t take too much time to have it up and running. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like. And definitely check out to see my finished product!