The Gap Between Universities and Real Life Design Services

Today I met with a recent graduate interested in packaging design. She shared with me her portfolio and had different links of her work. When I asked her what does she want to get hired to do, she would tell me packaging design. 

As she presented her portfolio to me she talked about herself, the things she was interested in, and why she catered her projects to her professors. 

I asked her, “is your professor still in the field?” 

“No but she’s had years of experience.” 

Clearly there’s a missing gap. 

I remember when I was in this girls position – let’s name her Jessica. A few weeks ago I did a live painting event and Jessica’s friend was there. She told me how Jessica was an artist and was struggling to find work. I told her to email me. Today Jessica shared with me her issues in finding a job and she presented her portfolio to me. 

Here are a few things missing in your portfolio: 

1. The project is not complete. You worked on a marketing campaign and there are no prototypes, no real life photo shoots, lifestyle images or supporting sketches that shows me how you got to the final product. 

2. You don’t have a focus. Your interested in fine art,  packaging, marketing and photography and you didn’t combine them in one project to really push the creativity. You have everything in separate components. Why not package your fine art abilities into packaging? That’s a specific focus and I’m sure there’s a market out there for it.   

3. You’re stealing images off the internet and your professor is letting you get away with it. Did you purchase those stock images? Did you use free ones? Where’s the citation? Site your sources and keep your integrity intact. You may need to learn by looking at and copying others work – it’s never ok to publish that as your own. 

4. You didn’t tell me how your skills or interest would benefit the company. It’s great to learn about you, but what are you adding and contributing to the end goal of the company? 

5. You sound desperate in your email outreach. While they can take advantage of you, there is room to do additional research and learn about the salary, learn about the role, and learn about the customers they help. 

I can relate to Jessica and I didn’t have someone to show me the ropes. I hope these tid bits help recent graduates in search of their design careers. Don’t give up so soon, and it does take time to find someone willing to take a chance in helping you develope and hone your design skills.