Network Engineers play a crucial role on their teams — they’re entrusted with designing, setting up, and managing their company’s computer networks, which are often the backbone of their business. If a company’s network has an outage or goes down, the Network Engineer is usually charged with getting that network back up and running. On top of all that, a Network Engineer also has to maintain the network, optimize its performance, and ensure its security.
That means that, whether you’re an experienced Network Engineer or a beginner in this field, there’s a huge range of skills you’ll need to show off when you’re interviewing for a role. A great way to accomplish this is by crafting a detailed professional portfolio.
So how do you do that? Here, we take a look at the experience you should showcase when you’re applying to Network Engineer roles, along with the best ways to make that experience shine on a resume and portfolio.
What should you include in your Network Engineer portfolio?
When you’re putting together a portfolio, you can either use a template, or build one yourself using coding. The latter can be a great way to showcase your technical ability, but it’s not a necessity.
The portfolio should have elements similar to a resume, like sections of information about you (with headers to make it easier to find them). It should also have a domain name (it’s a good idea to get your own personalized domain to use), and links to professional profiles from LinkedIn and similar sites.
A good bio shows who you are as a person, and includes information about you that might not fit in a resume. For example, you might discuss your professional journey, or hobbies (both related and not related to network engineering). If writing isn’t your thing, here’s our guide to writing a bio in five easy steps.
Contact info & resume
Your portfolio should include your contact information at the top so that potential employers and/or clients can find it right away. You’ll want to include:
- Your name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Professional social media accounts
Skills and experience
To craft a Network Engineer portfolio (and a related resume), think about the experiences, knowledge, and examples you are going to include. If you’re new to the field, it can help to add any relevant certifications or education you might have. And you’ll certainly want to apply any past professional experience to what you’ll be doing in the Network Engineer role, even if it’s totally unrelated — don’t discount how your soft skills can translate.
If you already have professional experience in the field — particularly experience in related roles like a Network Technician, Network Analyst, Network Operations Associate, or Technical Support Engineer — you’ll likely have work examples that will apply to Network Engineer roles and can be included in your portfolio. If you have experience in a related but more advanced role, such as Network Administrator, Network Specialist, Network Manager, or Network Solutions Architect, these would also yield work examples for a portfolio. (More on portfolio projects below.)
When it comes to your skills as a Network Engineer, there are specific aspects of the role that should be listed in your portfolio, according to Zippia. These include:
- Protocols: Writing, designing, or configuration of network communications.
- Troubleshooting: Fine-tuning wireless communication or network latency issues.
- Infrastructure: The design or redesign of network hardware or video networks and analysis of network infrastructure data.
- BGP: Configuring border gateway protocols.
- OSPF: Designing and implementing interior gateway protocols in networks.
- LAN: Designing, engineering, or configuring local area networks.
- Juniper Network: Working with the Juniper Network’s networking products and software.
- TCP/IP: Creating or configuring systems for network transmissions and internet protocols.
- EIGRP: Designing and implementing enhanced interior gateway protocols.
- IOS: Specialization in all aspects of network technology for the Apple iPhone Operating System.
- MPLS: Redesigning connectivity for multiprotocol label switching, including the configuration of necessary lines and routers.
Being armed with these industry terms will show that you have the credentials and capability and will help get your portfolio noticed.
Because a Network Engineer is a technical role, you’ll be crafting a technical portfolio, the heart of which will be the projects you present within it. You can share these according to the different types of projects you might have taken on, such as:
- Open-source: Unsolicited contributions to sites and systems that rely on open-source design and programming, like Firefox.
- Individual: A sample project that you create to show what you can do in an area of interest to you personally, like gaming.
- Group: A project where you worked with a team, which can show how well you collaborate with others.
- Product clones: A deliberate copy of a site or system of the prospective employer intended to show the employer what you can do.
- Verticals: A project or sample project in specialized areas, such as testing or access to systems.
If you’re looking for more project ideas for your portfolio, we have free portfolio projects that enable you to apply what you’ve learned so you can show off your skills.
For any kind of Network Engineer role, whether general or specialized, you should know programming languages like Python and Java. If you complete a Codecademy course or path, you’ll get a certificate, which you can list on your portfolio, resume, and LinkedIn profile.
You would also do well to have certifications in facets of network engineering, such as:
- Cisco networks
- Linux operating systems
- IT management certifications
- CompTIA certifications covering Windows, cloud computing, and networking.
All of these skills and accomplishments are worth pointing out somewhere in your portfolio.
In addition to the general responsibilities we discussed, Network Engineers may also perform more specific roles within a company. Here are some common specializations for a Network Engineer:
- Cloud Networking Architect: Specializes in operating hybrid cloud environments, migrating to cloud networks, deploying systems in the cloud, and troubleshooting cloud services issues.
- Network Security Specialist: Searches for security vulnerabilities to keep the network ahead of them.
- Wireless Network Engineer: Specializes in the wireless equipment parts of network systems.
- VOIP Engineer: Voice over internet protocol blends calls, online meetings, and in-house chat rooms. Also serves as a replacement for landline phone systems. A network engineer can be dedicated to just this kind of system alone.
- Data-Center Networking Specialist: Data centers house data critical to a company or organization. They also feed email and other key functions and systems. These specialists focus on network and storage infrastructure that is the foundation of data centers.
If you have any of these specialized experiences, you will want to highlight it in your portfolio using the specific terminology, whether that’s in your bio, project section, resume, or anywhere else that’s relevant.
Take your Network Engineer portfolio to the next level
To take your portfolio even further, it helps to have an established online presence when you apply for a role. While that may sound intimidating, in practicality, it’s not as involved as it may sound. It can really just be a matter of creating and/or updating your LinkedIn profile with your work experience. This will help you connect with recruiters and find work in the field.
If you want to take it a step further, you can show your engagement and passion for your field by posting relevant thoughts and news on social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also publish longform blog posts, either on your portfolio, your LinkedIn, or another site. This can be a good way to showcase yourself as a thought leader.
Of course, by no means should you feel like you have to start posting to social media or writing blogs, but just know these can be great ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm and knowledge if you’re comfortable with putting yourself out there in these ways.
Need more advice? Here are our tips for building a technical portfolio. And if you’re looking to learn more about finding a job, our Career Center has tips on finding the right role, interview prep resources, and more.