I've never been to a portfolio review in person or online so getting ready for one was very interesting. There wasn't any specific criteria but my professor advised us to show our best work of the year. I am only a junior in the industrial design program so I wasn't too nervous entering my first virtual session this year. However, I thought it was good practice to act as though this was for a job position.
Here are a few tips I learned along the way that are essential to remember:
1. Do pace yourself.
It's your portfolio. You've put so much precious time and effort into creating something that represents your talent. Rushing through it would not only defeat the purpose of getting the best advice but also slap a big f*ck you to yourself.
I entered a virtual review one time and summarized five projects into 3 minutes to a representative. Luckily, he was very polite in explaining that what I did was not an ideal way to present your best work. He said that it should take you 3 minutes to talk about a single project.
2. Do have a second option available.
Sometimes your laptop decides to update in the middle of a session or shuts down completely. What do you do then? What if you forget a small detail or fact that could be vital for successfully explaining your project?
It is best to prepare yourself for anything distaterious. Having an extra device to look at a script/notes can highlight the main points of your work and remove potential problems during the sessions.
3. Do have a glass of water nearby.
I went through four 15-minute review sessions with four different people almost back to back. In some session schedules, it looks like there would be a break here and there but everyone is constantly talking. Your mouth is bound to get dry. Set a place of water for yourself so you don't have to pause or rush to get one. I had to chug a bottle of coconut after because of how thirsty I was once I was done.
4. Don’t blurt out something when you mess up a sentence.
I have a tendency to blow a raspberry or curse out when I get my words twisted during a conversation. Please do not do that during a review session. The people who come to review portfolios are usually recruiters. Doing these things during a review might not be as bad but they would not want to risk hiring someone that'll do this in their workspace. Performing this bad habit could lower your chances for an internship or job position.
5. Don’t move around during the meeting.
It's very tempting to get out of the frame to grab that thing at the end of the table but please restrain yourself. These sessions are very important and tend to take the whole day so it is very tiring. Moving is very distracting, even for yourself, too, because It’s hard to focus on two things completely when you’re exhausted. You may not be really listening. A lot of participants are seeing hundreds of pieces and interviewers. Respect their time as they respect yours giving you feedback on your work.
6. Don’t exit without asking a question.
You should always be actively engaged throughout the session. This habit lets others perceive you as a potential candidate in their line of work; someone who is serious about improving their work. It can be very scary and overwhelming if they ask if you have any questions on the spot. I always have a notebook nearby with some generic questions about each project like "Was it essential for me to have this feature included in the portfolio?" Or "Which of these projects should I focus more on in the future?"
People in the "real world" are not always what you expect so it's best to keep an open mind with those who are reviewing your work. I learned I can't take what people say too personally. Even if you feel like you messed up or didn't do enough for your review session, it is okay. People are constantly changing things up to present better work. The best thing you can do is to make changes and improve at your own pace.