An open letter to all PR seniors: 5 truths about Portfolio Reviews

Hayden Skoch sitting at table during portfolio review

Post by Nikki Kesaris
Photos by Jeff Collet

Dear Public Relations Senior,

Congratulations! You’re almost done. Seriously, it’s true. You are about to go from #lifeasajstudent to #lifeasajgrad. But before you buy your cap and gown, there is one last thing you need to complete: the UO School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) Public Relations Portfolio Review.

Ah, yes, those dreaded words. Let’s say it again: the PR Portfolio Review. You may have heard about it from a friend or from PR instructor Kelli Matthews, but one thing is (probably) for sure: You are hesitant about it. After all, you will have to talk about yourself and then receive critiques and compliments.

No really, it’s that simple.

As daunting as it may sound, I’m here to tell you that you need to forget everything you have ever heard about the PR Portfolio Reviews, because the review is there for a reason, and that is to benefit you. Look at this as an incredible opportunity to creatively reflect on your time as a student before you enter the workforce.

Here are a few things to know about the PR Portfolio Reviews:

1. You will succeed.

Your review will be in either Eugene or Portland, and there are benefits to both locations. No matter where you are, you will be successful. Upon arriving at your review, you will walk into a small room with two to three reviewers. The reviewers will vary in age, industry and position.

Take a deep breath and introduce yourself.

Remember that these people are here to help you. They want you to succeed. They are cheering for you.

2. The portfolio review actually helps.

When you create your portfolio, you outline a project or position by visually displaying your objectives, strategies and outcomes. You learn how to professionally articulate these ideas to share with your reviewers.

After my portfolio review, I went on a series of interviews and became a much more competitive applicant because I knew exactly how to talk about my experience. It turns out that it’s way  more than just explaining my daily tasks. In all those real-life job interview, I answered questions clearly and confidently by providing examples of my strategies and results. I learned to do that at my portfolio review.

3. Don’t wait.

In J-454 PR Campaigns, you will work alongside four to five other students to create a campaign for a real-world client. With some guidance from the instructor, your team spearheads this campaign. One challenging part of the course, however, is being disciplined enough to sit down and complete your portfolio. The instructor will not assign due dates or expectations. It is all on you.

I recommend starting your portfolio in Week 3 or Week 4. Do not let this intimidate you. It is easy to let your portfolio take a backseat to your other schoolwork, job and social life. Just do a little bit every few days, and before you know it, it will be done.

Print it out, give it to your favorite professor and ask them to edit it. Trust me when I say that finishing it the night before the review is not a good option.

4. There is no right or wrong, but make sure you put in the effort.

I truly believe one of the most difficult parts of creating my portfolio was picking a theme for the layout. But seriously, take the time to make it look nice. Let your portfolio represent you. Remember that this entire process is about you. Tell your story the way you feel it should be told.

Before we part ways, I am going to share with you the best advice I’ve ever received from an SOJC alum:

5. Trust the SOJC.

This school teaches and prepares you more than you realize. We SOJC students are constantly surrounded by cutting-edge research and practice in public relations. As you transition from student to industry professional, trust the skills you learned from your professors and peers. Stand confidently and know that you are (or were) a student in the SOJC, and that is something special.

Cherish your time at the SOJC. It will come and go far too quickly. Go into the PR Portfolio Reviews with an open mind and remember this experience is meant to help you learn and grow as a professional. Take the opportunity and run with it.

To all of you graduating at the end of this term, congratulations. And to those of you who still have time left, embrace it. Best of luck on your portfolio review!

Go Ducks!

Nikki Kesaris ’18


Nikki Kesaris, B.A. ’18, has worked for the SOJC Communications Office for three years. Before graduating at the end of winter term, she served as an Allen Hall Public Relations account supervisor for Cowbucker. In 2017, she served as vice president of media marketing for the Panhellenic Executive Council. To find out more about her, check out her website at nikkikesaris.com.