A Student’s Perspective


How would you summarize the Portfolio Review, in regard to your experience?

The portfolio review was one of the last big events that the graphic design seniors at ECU had to participate in before graduation. As a junior, I had volunteered to help set up and run the event, so by the time it was my turn to participate as a senior I was very excited. The weeks leading up to Portfolio Review were pretty intense. I wanted everything in my book to be perfect. I spent my evenings reworking projects, updating resumés, making business cards, etc. When the time actually came for us to go to the review, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. When we got there we were surrounded by dozens of other young professionals all clutching their portfolio books awaiting direction on what to do next. We all signed in, got name tags, and a schedule card for the day. We were paired up with several reviewers and assigned a place to sit. As we sat at our tables, the reviewers rotated around the room and sat with us for about 15 minutes each. I shook hands and introduced myself to each reviewer as they came to my table. We sat and talked about who they were and what they did and what I wanted to do after graduation. After a few minutes of small talk, we would dive into the portfolio. I nervously mumbled my way through each piece and would sit and listen to what they had to say. With each reviewer, talking about my work became easier and more natural. I became more confident and comfortable. By the end of the day, I had a page full of notes and a head filled with inspiration. It was a great day and a great experience. It was definitely one of the most beneficial days of my senior year before graduation.

With each reviewer, talking about my work became easier and more natural.

As a student, what aspect of the Review did you enjoy most?
I’d have to say my favorite part about the review was being able to get involved in the design community and receive feedback on my work. As with any AIGA event, you get the opportunity to meet new and exciting people who share the same passion you do about design. What was extra special about the portfolio review was that you were able to sit down and just talk with fellow professionals about the industry and your work. I received many good critiques and suggestions to help improve my work and I also got a lot of really good advice that I would carry with me as I ventured towards graduation and the “Real World”.


The opportunity to meet new and exciting people who share the same passion you do about design.

How would you encourage other design students to participate in the Review?
If you are a junior, definitely volunteer if you can. It will be a great experience to network and become familiar with the event before attending it the next year. I made friends and connections that I still have to this day from volunteering as a Junior. If you are a senior, just do it! Sign up, and start working on getting ready. It might seem like an intimidating process and event, but trust me, it will be worth it. It’s not often that you get to sit in a room with dozens of ‘real world’ professionals and get one-on-one feedback from them on your work. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to get your name out to people in the industry. The more people who look at your book, the better. This kind of event does not happen often. You will be able to gain invaluable knowledge and receive amazing advice from respectable and established people, so you don’t want to miss out!


If you are a junior, definitely volunteer if you can.

What piece of advice or tips would you share with future student attendees?
Be prepared, confident, and composed. Don’t be nervous. The reviewers are just people and have been anxious seniors getting ready to enter the world too. The reviewers are there to help you. Be friendly and respectful. They have given up their time just to help you. Make sure to bring résumés, business cards, any leave-behinds you can give out, and most importantly, something to write on. You will be overwhelmed with feedback, and you will want to make sure to write down as much as you can so you remember what to work on when you get home. But the most important part of attending the portfolio review is to just have fun! Seriously, you are going to meet some great people and leave with a newfound sense of self. You are in one of the most exciting transition periods of your professional life. You are a young designer and you are going to go places. And this event will only help with your emerge into the design industry!


Prepared, Confident, and Composed

Author of this post: 

Megan Burns

Megan Burn's ThumbnailMegan Burns is a driven and dedicated designer residing in the wonderful city of Charlotte, North Carolina. She earned her BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design from East Carolina University and will always be a proud Pirate! Megan first got involved in AIGA during her second year in college. Her and several classmates would make the 2 hour drive just to attend community meeting and any other events they had the availability in their class schedule. She continues to stay active in the Charlotte chapter when she has the opportunity. Currently, she is sharing her time between two agencies in uptown Charlotte. She loves coffee, illustrations, and riding bikes. She also loves dogs.

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Photographer of this post:

Basia Coulter

aiga_profile_avatarFormerly a researcher in neuroscience, I gradually transitioned into design for web and mobile. Having discovered a professional niche as a UX/UI designer at NC State University, I continue to find fulfillment in visual design and photography. A Durham resident, I am inspired by the creative communities in the Triangle area and feel privileged to have opportunities to contribute to the rich culture of our region as a community member at AIGA Raleigh and a co-leader at Girl Develop It RDU.
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Sign up today to be a volunteer or a reviewer for the 2015 AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review which will be held on March 28, 2015 at Red Hat in downtown Raleigh.

If you have questions about the Student Portfolio Review, please visit AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review or feel free to contact one of the following: Director of Design Ability, Kristin Fowler, or the Co-Directors for Student Programming, Sophia Hitchcock and Jacqueline McAdams.

By Kristin Fowler
Published March 16, 2015