This past Saturday I participated in the AIGA 2009 Portfolio Review. Its sort of strange to see the tables turned so soon ( I graduated in 2007). This time I was not a student, but a reviewer. I saw some great design work and have some suggestions for all the design students out there.

1 Don’t be afraid of the web

The Internets wont bite! ( I swear) I saw LOTS of great print work, but not very much web work. Don’t worry if your school does not have a web design class! Search the internet, buy a book and take a crack at it! I can’t stress how important it is to at least understand how to design for the web, even if you cant code a web page. I learned more about web design outside of school that I did when I was in school. So jump right in – and don’t forget that you absolutely NEED a portfolio website! And while you are at it start a blog!

2 Don’t be afraid to experiment

Go crazy! Make scribbly type, violate hierarchy rules, break the grid, include hand drawn elements with vector elements. Follow design principals and then break them! Design school is when you have the most freedom. You are your own client (most of the time) so push yourself as far as you can. Experiment with different design styles. This will help you learn and grow as a designer.

3 Always have business cards, and always carry them with you

Some of the students I reviewed didn’t have business cards. MISSED OPPORTUNITY!!! Business cards are so cheap and easy to make (, ) You can get 100-250 cards for 20 bucks! I would also recommend having a few cards in your wallet. You never know when someone will mention that they need a designer.

4 Take your class projects further

So you were assigned a magazine cover and a spread – why not design the rest of the magazine and make it look as complete as possible? Logo Design assignment? Take the identity further and design a website. It’s awesome to see student projects that are taken further than the proposed assignment. It also makes you stand out from your classmates. Don’t be afraid to mention that you went above and beyond and took something further in a job interview either.

*ignore the random sticky note guy pic…. i just liked it so much I had to include it somewhere :)

5 Make a habit of talking about your work

If you are a graduating senior (or super senior when I graduated hehe) you need to make a habbit of talking about your portfolio. Participating in portfolio reviews is a great way to pratice for job interviews. It might also help to show your portfolio to non-designers and explain your work. When I was looking for jobs right out of school I had interviews with HR departments and other non-designers. Often times these people won’t understand designer lingo – so its best to get practice with non-designers!

Check out the view from the top of Mass Art!

Check out the view from the top of Mass Art!

Any More Tips?

Do you guys have any tips out for soon to be job hunting designers? Or tips for design students in general?