To land a job at an architectural firm you need to win the interview. Enter your portfolio! You need to present those skills in a way that makes you stand out. This is where your portfolio comes in. An architectural portfolio is a showcase of your work. The main function of a portfolio is to show your growth as a designer and give employers an idea as to what kind of potential you have. Your portfolio shows hiring managers what your style is, and it gives them their first impression of you and your design voice and influences. It is of utmost importance that your portfolio reflects who you are.
What Do Hiring Managers Look for?
At first glance, hiring managers are looking to see what you have designed in the past. What projects you have worked on and what your role was on each project. They want to be able to look at a design and understand the project. They want to see designs that really speak to your personality. Most importantly, they want to see progress from one design to the next. This shows them that you have the potential to learn and grow.
The goal is to give all those reviewing your portfolio a good sense of your eye as a designer. They also want to assess your sketching ability. The most important thing is that the portfolio tells your story, visually. Who are your influences? What are your passions? Where did you begin, where are you now, and how did you get to where you are today?
How to Stand out
One way to stand out is to include quotes from clients or managers. If this is your first job, you can also include quotes from people you interned with and teachers. You can also stand out by including hand sketches. This can give employers a more intimate look at your designs and your thought process. It is essential that you tailor your portfolio to the job and the company. A generic portfolio (pdf after pdf of images) is never going to stand out. Research the firm. What are their values? Their mission? When you know about the firm’s background, you can go out of your way to appeal to them when creating your portfolio.
Preparing Your Portfolio
In preparing your portfolio, you first have to decide whether you want a paper portfolio or an electronic one. I think both are still needed. A paper portfolio is often more personal and is best used during an in-person interview. The electronic portfolio is more accessible and versatile. You can post your portfolio online and on social media, which is another way to get noticed. You also have to remember to edit and revise your portfolio. You want the portfolio to be as flawless as possible. It is also a good idea to have a mobilfolio (a copy of your portfolio on your cell phone) that you can have on hand at all moments. You never know who you are going to sit next to on a plane or on the bus!
Many elements go into creating a portfolio. Oftentimes, you’re putting your heart on display. To make the right impression, you don’t want to focus too heavily on showing off technical skill. While you want to demonstrate your ability, it is ultimately more important that you create a cohesive portfolio that tells a story and shows off who you are as a person and as a designer.
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