As a designer who is within a year or two out of being in school, your portfolio might have a decent amount of school projects. It is always good to have pieces in your portfolio that at least have some real world value to them. Having just portfolio items with made up companies and situations doesn’t always show your skills as a designer. It is good to always take as many internships as possible while in school or at least doing some freelance for real world clients. Creating your own portfolio site is where you really need to start at for your personal identity.
Being on the web is very crucial in getting your name out there as a designer. Creating your personal brand is something every designer struggles to create, in such case it’s good to use other alternative methods of a personal portfolio while you build your own aesthetic. You can sign up on Behance and create a temporary solution. Make sure when you post your work that you present it well. Show your work in real world aspects such as taking product shots of a magazine you designed, a package design you built, or a mock up a website in Photoshop on an iMac template. Include tools such as Blurb and Issuu to your projects. Having the right projects that also reflect you as a designer is important when applying for jobs. It is important to have a clear view of what you can do as a designer and what you specialize in, which helps set you apart from other designers.
Showing only your best work in your portfolio is a good way to focus your aesthetic. Having an amount between 5-9 pieces on your site is a good way to display the broad range you want. If you feel you don’t have enough real world projects it’s always a great solution to take things you see around you and think of the ways you could improve them. They could be designs such as magazines, articles, websites, program books, etc. If you feel you could take this piece of design work and make it better, go for it. It’s a good start for you to show your initiative in building not only a better design portfolio but shows your creativity and originality to a piece that has already been produced publicly.