I’m sharing a few pieces of design career advice for young designers to feel confident walking in to their first few interviews out of school with a strong portfolio and a passion to begin their design careers.
These are based off of common themes inspired by the portfolios I reviewed at this year’s AIGA Student Portfolio Review at Atomic Object. The tips focus on soft skills to effectively communicate your projects to a potential employer.
Tell the story behind your project
The story behind your work is as important as the work itself. The talent coming into the industry is top notch. You’re in good company but how do you stand out for your uniqueness? Tell your story.
Good starter questions to ask when developing your project’s story: What is the problem your project solved? What inspired you to take it in that direction? Why that typography decision? Or that color palette? An interesting or well put together story will make a good project even more memorable.
Remove filler words from your vocabulary
Remove filler words when discussing projects in your portfolio. Describe it without using words “just”, “like, or “but”, to name a few as these are passive words that won’t give credibility to the awesome work you’ve spent so much time creating. I’m learning this myself after reading words to ban on Wit & Delight, a blog by Kate Arends. Let’s kick this bad habit together!
Share your work
Lastly, anyone who has posted something they made to Instagram or shown their work in front of people knows how scary it can be on display for others to comment (i.e. this blog post!). Mad kudos to the students who attended the review last weekend despite their fear to share unfinished work. It’s the kind of courage you will need over and over again. The best way to get comfortable with sharing your work is practice. Keep showing up and your experiences will develop confidence in your voice, style, and projects.
Check out this quick read, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon
Design Career Advice For Confidence at Your First Interview
To summarize, tell an intriguing story that relates to your projects, remove filler words to tell it confidently and share it over and over again boldly. Start to answer your own questions about how and why you’re approaching the work the way you are. When you answer that you can begin to share your perspectives confidently to others.
Also, here’s some additional tips on how to get the most out of networking events. What are some other soft skills you’ve learned? What are some you’d like to know more about?
All photos c/o Studio-Us, a new graphic design studio coming soon to Grand Rapids!