Student Portfolio Review: Student Prep Guide

Or annual Student Portfolio Review is just a few weeks away. Students, we’ve prepared this guide to help you prepare for the event.

The portfolio review is intended to prepare you for presenting your work to potential employers. It is not meant to be a simulation of a job interview, but rather an opportunity to receive advice on improvements that you can make to ensure you are presenting a polished portfolio.  Reviewers will be evaluating both the work you share as well as how you presented your work. Presentation matters so you need to be able to confidently share your thought process and problem-solving approach to a design brief. So critiquing the presentation is just as important as critiquing your work.

What to Bring With You

  • Bring all work in a format that is portable and presentation ready. Keep in mind that space is limited, so please avoid bringing oversized objects.
  • Keep portfolio limited to your best pieces: quality over quantity
  • If showing any digital work, fully charged laptop/tablet and extension cord and chargers just in case
    You should also prepare a printed portfolio of your work to participate in the gallery that will follow the review
  • Business cards
    Consider bringing resumes in case a reviewer requests a copy
  • Notepad and pen for recording feedback

Be Prepared

Presentation matters, so it is important to practice presenting your portfolio. Have a solid idea on how you will introduce yourself. When you present each project in your portfolio, provide the details of the assignment and what constraints or challenges you were faced with in developing a solution. Discuss your thought process and reasoning for decisions you made. Write down the points you want to discuss as you present each piece in your portfolio. You may wish to bring these with you on notecards.

Keep an Open Mind

Keep an open mind and respect the insight the reviewers are providing. If you are receiving feedback from a web professional, yet you have more experience in print design, recognize that their viewpoint brings a different perspective to your portfolio. Remember that this is a time for you to reflect on your work. Therefore, don’t dismiss or argue with the reviewer, but instead turn their comments in action items on how to improve. Keep in mind that reviewers are volunteering their time to provide their wisdom.

Don’t Take It Personally

Design critiques are meant to help the design better serve its purpose and audience. So when a reviewer points out something that could use finessing, the intent is to improve the effectiveness of the design and help you grow as a designer.

This is Not a Job Interview

Every reviewer who volunteers is not looking to hire. Some are freelancers, while others enjoy mentoring. Place your focus on their feedback. Utilize this experience to hone your presentation skills, hone your work, and to begin making connections within the local design community.

Follow Up

Don’t forget to thank your reviewers for their time and advice. Request their business card if they do not offer it to you so that you can follow up with them. A simple thank you email or a handwritten note is a great way to develop connections.

By Amy Lyons
Published March 30, 2018