Frustrated Graduate

Hello All!

I am looking for some serious feedback on my portfolio. I have been told by my professors in the past that both my level of thinking and portfolio were impressive. I was even recommended to frog design for an internship by the head of my department, however the position had been filled. Over the last few months I have been applying for jobs and internships to no avail. I have been reaching out to Alum and professional connections who always seem to ignore me or not get the message. I am becoming extremely frustrated in my search for employment. So, I was hoping you all could tear apart my website so that I can figure out what I am doing wrong. Cheers!


Thanks for sharing your portfolio site with us. I read the About page on your site and it seems you want to go for design research positions. Just wanted to clarify if I’m correct that you do indeed want to go for design research. I’m asking this because at first glance I couldn’t really tell what position you wanted. Also, maybe title your squares by the project, not by a general title like “Internship” or “Research.” I’ll leave it at that for now and leave the designers with more experience in hiring to give you more constructive feedback.

Patience. Easier said than done.

Your work is very good. Perhaps not great, but thoughtfully assembled, crafted and communicated. Landing that dream position anywhere is very tough for a majority of graduates. Most of the high end firms look for very specific skill sets where graduates can plug in directly. I found they don’t look for a good fit, but a perfect fit. That shouldn’t discourage you to apply, but help cope with understanding why some firms hire who they do. This goes nothing against your character or your work. There are a wealth of folks in your place and to the like, there is a wealth of answers to this question that has been answered on this forum many times over.


Months of application is not uncommon. It took myself, and I’m sure many others, years to get into a choice design position, knowing we had the drive, skill, and aptitude “if only someone would give me the chance”. But growth is about time, perseverance, maturity, and to a certain degree, luck.


Economically, as a designer, you have to be where you are needed/demanded. Not to say that where you are isn’t in demand, but you may have to hedge your bets a little if you want to grow into the designer you want to become. That also goes to say that your salary will also go against the volume of talent within the area that can do exactly, if not, better than what you can do.


Talking to professors is great, comforting, and rewarding. But they already taught you all you need to know to be a designer. Find a mentor, one NOT in design and try to build a foundation of communicating SIMPLY what you do, and can do. This practice will come in handy when your selling design to non-design executives and peers. Handing over a portfolio is great but not everyone will get it or understand on the first read. You’re graphic comps are great so keep it up!


Lastly, have the confidence that you’ll get there. You will, I promise. It’s an arduous road, full of disappointment, joy, reward, conflict, frustration, and the most important Ego. This is an uphill journey that you and only you will pave. Eventually, you’ll have to do all of this, and at the same time, fall in love, raise a family, and give hope to others on the journey. And when you get there, pass on the advice to others who were once in your boat. Good Luck.

What position are you going for? On your site you have Industrial + Interaction design? Do you focus on the digital or the physical? Front end or Back end? Whats your strong suit? What makes you stand out from the other countless grads and young professionals applying?

The answers to these questions will help craft your portfolio and how you pitch yourself. Remembers there’s 30 graduating ID senior per school every year. Multiply that by 10-15 schools in the country. Plus juniors looking to move from there current job. You gotta do everything to stand out.

If your going for an entry level industrial design position in a consultancy.
First thing I see is a lack of sketching, 3D modeling and model making. These are some of the biggest responsibilities in a junior. Sure your design thinking and insights are important. But can you give me 50 sketch concepts. Pick 10 of those and refine them. Then model up 5 of them in CAD and make foam models of them? All in a week and a half?

You have a lot of pretty graphs and charts on your projects. But nothing that’s really a deliverable in a professional sense. Cleaned up sketches, illustrator concepts, nice keyshot renderings is what professionals want to see. Not pie charts or persona pages.

Sorry if this comes off as a bit harsh. But I feel like your portfolios puts the emphasis on the wrong parts of the design process. Especially for those looking at entry level positions. Since at first; you’re there to primarily support senior staff.

@masood1224 thanks for that. that was really encouraging and more than I could have asked for.

I don’t see myself being a typical industrial designer. My site says that, because that is my degree. I am more trying to get into research and problem solving. I’m all over the place in my interests, and I think as most of you know, having a industrial design background can lead to a lot of different types of careers and at this point I don’t want to limit myself to one thing. Actually since graduating and in all my free time this summer, I’ve become really interested in a cross-disciplinary approach between design thinking and policy making. For now I am just looking for research and strategy experience. I just wanted my website to show my breadth of skills.

Thanks for the advice so far!

Keep it coming!

Yeah, my feedback goes a bit more towards hardware design ID. As for design research/policy making combo (ex. and

I knew a few ID students that have attempting to go this route and its seemed pretty difficult with just a bachelors in design. Most of these type of jobs wanted you to be able not only research but write at a very academic level. Something to consider as they may ask for writing samples. Not impossible, but just a heads up these jobs are very rare and highly sought after.

I can say that one of my favorite experiences of school was the Humanities. Many of my fellow students felt otherwise, but I believe as a designer it has molded me more than my own technical learning. That’s also when I realized how difficult it was synthesizing all that learning of 4-5 years into a 10 page sample book.

The learning you receive at University is meant to broaden and liberate your mind so you can reason soundly and stand behind a well informed opinion. It’s the basis of what makes a civilization able to work cohesively towards a renaissance. Likewise, your degree instills a design process so you can technically create an output that reflects your thinking. Be it right or wrong, interpretation is left to the audience to decide.

The feelings you are feeling now, culminate like a freshly harvested orchard; lots of apples and oranges but you don’t know whether your in the mood for juice, pie or fruit salad. It’s okay, you can have it all but your body and mind will let you know when your full. It’s all normal and commonplace for graduates regardless of discipline. Take your time and devote your life to mastering all the sciences. Because that’s how long it should take.

What ever your course of action, be it analog, digital, analytical, or technical, you must spend your early graduate years refining your tools. You have to go to places where you can practice your skills. This doesn’t have to be a firm, in-house design department, or any of the like. Your job, as a recent grad, is to practice, apply, fix, repeat, until YOU feel the time is ripe for leveling up. You already communicate well. Learn what you don’t know and stay vigilant in your pursuit.

5 years from now, your professors may not be able to help you. 10 years, you’ll only have your spouse to check your work. After that, industry professionals count on your experience and expertise, then you’ll have to find the answers on your own. That’s when your process skills that you’ve honed over the years pays off. You will have mastered not only the art of design, but of the process, strategy, and execution. Your work will be measured through your leadership skills and your team will be the ones who willfully rally to your cause. Be human, humble and steadfast.

…Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took Picasso 30 years to sketch his idea on a napkin.

Your portfolio confuses me a bit. It is a bit all over the place, ID, research, strategy, graphic design, woodworking. Most things are solid good, but clearly seems like you have more passion for making things like the wooden trunk the design tool kit (which I always think those design tool kits are BS, do you know how much those are ignored in the real world?) than the actual project.

Your portfolio is a design project. It should have a targeted viewer. Right now it says to me “I’ll take a job in ID, research, strategy, whatever you’ve got!”… when it should be saying “I’m the best person for “xyz”, if you don’t hire me for that, you are a fool!”

Your first job will tend to be pretty focused, there you will learn to be expert level at something. You will build the vertical on your “T shape”. From there you can expand out and push the boundaries and build the horizontal on your T shape. You need to decide what that thing is.

Also, show more projects.

Being a recent graduate myself, I can appreciate how frustrating the job search can get.

  • I think your website lacks a cohesive story. Right now all it says to me is “This is my name and here are a bunch of my projects”. If you’re trying to get a position that’s oriented towards design research, why have a section dedicated to graphic design? Your graphic design skills should already be apparent through your website and content layout.

  • The category names you’ve used on the main page also don’t really make sense. Some are dedicated to individual projects, and then you have sections for “Research” and “Internship”. Your “Glucometer” and Internship projects involve research too, why aren’t they in the “Research” section?

  • I don’t really get a good sense of who you are as a person or designer. Firms that are hiring typically go through a shitload of portfolios, what’s there that is going to make you memorable and stand out from the rest? What is your unique takeaway or selling point?

  • Stick a few sketches/renderings in here and there. Companies still want to know their new hires have a raw ability. I wouldn’t set aside a specific category for it tho, showcase it as part of your research/prod dev process (“I do design thinking and research at a high level blahblahblah, oh hey did you know I sketch like a beast too?”

You’ve mentioned an interest in approaching projects from a cross-disciplinary approach between design thinking and policy making. You could orient all the content that you show on your website around this idea and really drive it home.
I feel like portfolios are as much about how you market and sell yourself as it is about showcasing your skills. Get your inner Don Draper on, find your point of differentiation and sell the shit out of it.

Also, be absolutely clear in what your goals for your first job are. Big consultancy? Medium-small firms? Start ups? Freelance? Corporations? There are pros and cons to each and the sooner you’re clear about what you really want at this stage of your career, the more targeted your job search can become.

Sorry for the lengthy and wordy post man, but as someone who has also just gotten into the “real world”, some of these lessons are still fresh in my mind. Like everything else, timing and luck also play a big part. Keep hustling!

Hello all!

Thanks for the great feedback so far. I appreciate the constructive criticism.

I’ve scaled the page back to strictly focus on research. I renamed the pages to be less generic and I will be adding another project or two during the week if you’d like to check it out and let me know what you think.

much better. I think the sunglasses pic has to go, and I would put a quote from someone else. Once you are “the man” you can rock selfie quote. Right now you are coming off like this but with nothing to back it up:


Good call.

KR has no ankles and JH seems to be missing his right shoulder.

On the other hand, I would argue that KR also has nothing to back it up. :wink:


Point taken Yo. It’s gone! :laughing: