Internships offer first-hand experience in a working environment for students and fresh graduates. Designed like a window, internships are an excellent opportunity to test the waters and give live insights of any industry, and the design industry is no exception. On Wednesday 13 May, our staying-in, multidisciplinary-supportive internship program Intern-Shift gathered partnering studios of the program, Tokotype, and Visious to share their portfolio dos and don’ts. We’ve compiled several pieces of advice from the session for students or fresh graduates in design to implement into their portfolio.
Every company, agency, studio is different. Each to their own focus, ways of thinking, and core foundation. It’s good to have places you’re eyeing for, so it’s important to tailor your portfolio to what they’re about. Learn about the places you’re applying for very well and see if it aligns with what you’re passionate about doing. Catering your portfolio and curating it to what they’re about could ease you in speaking in their language.
In a realistic setting, companies have plenty on their plate to take care of on the daily. Convenience counts, so a few powerful projects would suffice. Besides making it convenient, you’re also putting in works that show your strength. It’ll help you later on when you get to the interview step talking about these projects you’re confident in, with a passion.
Written storytelling is a part of your whole narrative as much as your visual storytelling, be it on your email application, CV, or project write-up. How you write yourself is a reflection of you alongside its visual format. A great balance in your writing is maintaining professionalism whilst being personal. Copy-pasted email application or CV write-up is, believe it or not, a familiar sight to see quite a lot. It can be seen from miles away.
A good portfolio told needs no complication. The story is delivered well, in a simple and precise measure. Planning for how your portfolio will be built is an invaluable step, as it will help you put your work in a flow. Keep in mind that the hierarchy of information, readability of the texts, and its relationship with the images (or image descriptions) matter in order to form this flow.
All design solutions come from a thorough process, which journey can be smooth or rocky. Whichever it may be, it always is and will be appreciated. Being a student means having absolute freedom in expressively-showing how you get from point A to point Z. Seeing raw ideas is always refreshing to the eyes that have seen plenty of polished work. It will also help understand the mind and heart behind the book and the creative process.
To see how a concept would be implemented in real life, digital mockups do the job well. An appropriate application is good but an excessive amount of it is not good either. Your work will not shine in its true impact and potential. As previously mentioned, being a student equals unlimited freedom for an expressive showcase rather than an overpolished showcase. The brilliant ideas packed as a potent essence in your work deserve more than a digital mockup.
Collaborative projects are always great initiatives. It’s good to see collaborators mentioned in the collective effort. Not only does it show professionalism and your genuine strength in your skills, but also it shows respect for your fellow collaborators. Quite a handful of times, we've come across the same collaborative project whilst the collaborators don't disclose their roles or that it was a collaborative effort. Awkwardness on all parties is one to avoid. Therefore, be clear and elaborate on your role in the collaborative effort.
Skills inherently don’t belong in a chart. Putting your skills in a chart means you’re limiting yourself to the level of expertise in your skillset and when it comes to placements, it’s about learning new things and advancing the skills you have. The potentials you have are not to be defined by a boundary. So, writing down your skillset in order is a good, direct, and effective approach.
Hobbies and interests are great, however, rather than writing down, it’s better that these interests are shown on your portfolio. Integrating who you are as a designer into how you present your work will create a layer of depth in your portfolio. Improving your craft in visual storytelling starts with how you deliver your own story. Ideally, it should speak for you.
Standing out requires plenty of research and the internet is a great source to look for inspiration and references, as thought by practically everyone else. But you can always utilize this fantastic platform by using it to look at what’s been done and avoid it. Not starting from a reference will create a sense of depth and set your voice as a designer at an early stage of your creative endeavor. This requires maximum effort on what feels like a rugged path, but the result is a reward worth walking on that path for.
A PDF portfolio is not for everyone. Finding the appropriate platform is convenient especially if you have expertise in practices such as motion graphics or UI/UX. Free online portfolio platforms such as Behance or even a website is excellent for handy and timely access to your work. Imagine an amazing showcase available for viewing in just one click.
After sending out your portfolio comes the waiting game. Always be on the lookout for any incoming response in your inbox. When you do receive good news for the next step, don’t hesitate to be responsive. It’ll be more convenient on both ends if you could settle on a time for a further chat (an interview) with who you’re applying to. Unresponsiveness that leaves the other end hanging will affect the placement opportunity you look forward to doing.
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