2024 Portfolio Review FAQs & Tips

Showcase Your Best Work and Make a Good Impression

Get excited! 

AIGA Houston’s 2024 Portfolio Review is right around the corner. Spring is the season for design students to polish their portfolios before graduating and entering the creative field. For emerging designers or those transitioning into the field, it is also the perfect time for a portfolio spring cleaning or refresh.

Every year, we get questions from our design community about portfolio review. Here are frequently asked questions and what you need to know.

Design: Camila Ruiz

Is Portfolio Review only open to students?

No! AIGA Houston’s Portfolio Review is open to students, early- to mid-career designers, transitioning designers and any practicing designer who wants to receive feedback on their work. Designers who received their design training through non-traditional routes – bootcamp graduates, on-the-job learners, career pivoters – are all welcome. We want to see your work!

How is the event formatted?

Portfolio Review is conducted in a speed-dating format. You will be paired with a reviewer and have 15 minutes per round to introduce yourself, present your portfolio, listen to feedback and ask questions. We typically hold 4–6 rounds of review with a break in between. If there is extra time, additional rounds may be added. We encourage you to get in as many rounds of review as you can.

How many projects should I have in my portfolio?

No set number of projects is required to participate but we recommend bringing up to 8–12 pieces of your absolute best work. Google recommends that its design applicants showcase at least 3 projects in their portfolio. With each portfolio review round lasting 15 minutes, you may only have time to present 3–5 pieces. Remember, this is an interview environment so be selective and strategic in the work you showcase. 

How should I format my portfolio?

There is no set format, but we encourage a mix of digital and print. For digital, you can use your website, Dribbble, Behance, print or digital PDF tools and video players. Tactile printed items or products are great to bring as reviewers enjoy physically interacting with pieces. For print, make sure to bring star pieces that highlight well-executed craft and intentional physical design choices; e.g. a well designed booklet with smart intentional touches of die-cuts or various print techniques. 

Will there be Wi-Fi?

Yes. Our venue has free Wi-Fi, but do not rely on the venue’s internet connection. Be prepared for any technology issues by downloading digital pieces if possible.

What devices can I bring?

Laptop and tablet devices are welcome. Charge your devices before you arrive. Not all review tables will be near a power outlet. If you are showing screen-based work, have your pieces up and ready on your device. Remember, you only have 15 minutes per round. Use your time wisely.

Is this also open to illustrators, videographers and photographers?

Our Portfolio Review caters to professionals and students in the graphic, UI, and UX design industries. However, we encourage you to incorporate your cross-disciplinary practice into your portfolio. Whether illustration, photography or videography, your multifaceted skills distinguish your portfolio. 

Should I bring business cards? 

Yes! Bring business cards as most reviewers are looking to hire talent. Most reviewers ask for business cards, but occasionally, resumes are also requested. You are welcome to bring copies of both. 

Is there a dress code?

This event is designed to model the interview process. Wear appropriately comfortable and professional attire (e.g. business casual, creative professional attire) to showcase your best professional self.

I’m nervous to talk to reviewers. What should I do? 

We encourage you to rehearse and practice your talking points before the event to help you feel more prepared. If you’re still nervous, write down a few career and portfolio-related questions to ask reviewers. 

Please remember, our reviewers are people too. They volunteer their time to provide feedback to improve your portfolio because they value mentorship. Most reviewers have been in your place, and they want you to be successful. Ultimately, be yourself, be confident and be professional. You will do great.

What if I have a negative interaction with a reviewer?

If you receive negative feedback on a project, do not take it personally or be discouraged. Criticism is common in our field, and we encourage you to learn from all feedback, whether positive or negative.

If you are being treated negatively or experiencing misconduct by a reviewer, alert one of AIGA Houston’s board members. This is a professional event and we expect everyone, including attendees, reviewers and volunteers, to follow our Code of Conduct. Unprofessional or inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. 

Key Takeaways 

  1. Bring your best work. Finalize your portfolio with your best work, with at least three projects.
  2. Come prepared. Remember all your materials, double-check that your digital portfolio works and bring business cards.
  3. Remember to socialize. Connect with peers and potential mentors during reviews and while you’re waiting.
  4. Recommended: Follow up with any reviewers after the event to thank them for their advice and feedback.

Additional Sources

Want more portfolio tips? See the links below for additional reading.

By Dani Newman
Published April 10, 2024
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