Guidelines & Packing List for the Student Portfolio Review


The Basics:

  • Bring all work in a format that is portable and presentation ready
  • Keep portfolio limited to your best pieces: quality over quantity
  • Tangible items are good to bring as well but physical space is limited
  • Fully charged laptop/tablet and extension cord,  if showing any digital work
  • Business cards and copies of your resume*
  • Notepad and pen (for recording commentary and constructive criticism)


Kick It Up a Notch // Review Time: Introduce yourself and share your stories:
No memorization or practicing in a mirror needed, but have a solid idea on how you will introduce yourself. Write down a few bullet points for your individual pieces as well — note cards come in handy. Share your concepts, process and remember your strategic/design thinking is what brings value to your work. You are the mind behind the matter!


Present your portfolio, gracefully:
In a working environment, you will always receive feedback on your design decisions. Whether or not you agree, keep an open mind and respect the insight they are providing. This is a must as collaborating with other designers and clients will be a constant in your career. If you are paired with a web professional, yet you have more experience in print, recognize that their vision brings a powerful perspective to your portfolio. This may also open doors for new opportunities in various markets and areas that weren’t considered previously. Lastly, remember that is a time for you to reflect on your work. Therefore, don’t dismiss, argue or insult the reviewer, but instead turn their comments in action items on how to improve. Keep in mind, reviewers are volunteering their time to provide their wisdom.


This is not a job interview:
Every reviewer who volunteers is not looking to hire. Some are freelancers, while others attend as they enjoy mentoring and are inspired by emerging talent. Kill the hard sales pitch, and place your focus on their feedback. Utilize this experience to hone your skills and tailor yourself for future opportunities. If in fact you receive an offer, you’ll be pleased to know so.


Say “Thank-you” and follow up:
As reviewers volunteer their time, make sure you say “thank you!” Also, send a handwritten thank-you note to each of your reviewers soon after the Review is completed. If you have “swag” or additional promotional pieces that you’d like to include, this would be fitting as well. You may develop connections that are useful later on — a mentor, or possibly an opportunity for employment. Therefore, common courtesy is key!

Triangle professionals offered their feedback at the end of the 2015 AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review and mentioned a few key points on their expectations and what they look for when hiring a junior designer. As you prepare your portfolio, keep in mind the following:


In Demand:

  • Interactive, User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI) and Motion Design
  • Versatility and range of work  (eg. campaigns)
  • Refinement of typography and typographic choices
  • Understanding and knowledge of web development/coding processes
  • Personal projects, without classroom limitations


Don’t Forget:

  • A positive attitude, an open mind and strong chin
  • Professionalism (including your business attire–dress like you care!)
  • Strong communication skills
  • Confidence in your work and yourself
  • Intelligently thought out and creatively executed work

If you have any additional questions about preparation for the 2016 AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review, please 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 12, 2014