Make the Work You Want to Make

You can’t expect people to hire you to do work that you aren’t doing.

It seems like something so obvious that it doesn’t even require mentioning. But, I spent the day talking to students about their portfolios at an AIGA portfolio review and often, when I asked a student what they wanted to do as a designer, their answer wasn’t reflected in the work they were displaying in their portfolio.

Your portfolio should be a love letter to your future employer. Pack it full of work that you are good at and interested in doing again. A fantastic portfolio piece that garners you a lot of attention and praise is only beneficial to you if you want to do that type of project again. If that project isn’t interesting to you it might get you a job, but it will be a job doing things that aren’t interesting to you.

Clients and employers (even in creative professions) have very little imagination and almost no tolerance for risk. When it comes to hiring someone to do a job they need to see as much evidence as you can provide that you are the one who can do that job. If school (or work) isn’t providing opportunities to do projects that show off your interests create projects of your own.

Most people want “creative” work done for them that they have seen before. Make that work now and put it out in the world. Show people what is possible, and do it consistently, and people will inevitably approach you to do that work for them in the future.