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Whether you're a Chicago graphic designer or one in a smaller town, one thing is certain; you'll need to have a portfolio. Portfolios are sort of an "extended resume" for design professionals that highlight examples of their best work for potential employers or clients to see. This way the people reviewing your portfolio can see what your style is like and you have a chance to show off your strengths as a designer.
Everyone in the field should try to develop a good portfolio of work, as it is an expectation that you will have one available for people to see. Graphic designers may have an on-line portfolio if they specialize in Web design, or a hard-copy book with a variety of samples. The way you set your portfolio up will depend on the work you are looking for and what your specialties are.
Taking the time to set up a good portfolio is a worthwhile investment. Once you have one, review it periodically and update it with newer work. That way you will stay current with the trends and come across as a savvy, knowledgeable designer instead of one who is dated and old-fashioned.