Grad student portfolio feedback request


I’m a long time lurker on the boards here, posting for the first time. I’m currently a graduate student at the University of Illinois. Been looking for a summer internship since January this year and after what feels like years of applying I still have nothing to show for it. Would really appreciate some feedback as I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.

For context, I landed a grand total of one interview which ended with me not getting the internship.

Welcome and thanks for posting. I’m looking at this on my phone while traveling so I didn’t have a chance to read everything (though that is often a reality of hiring managers)… I think the first couple of projects are good. The presentation of the projects focus a bit too much on the final solution in my opinion and not enough on the design process. When looking for interns personally I’m not looking for people to present to management, I’m looking for thinking, curiosity, skills, and ability to execute tasks to be honest. Not all internships are that way of course, but I think of interns more as an extra set of hands. Modeling the Comaro in solideorks shows an impressive command of the software. It feels a little disconnected from your other work.

Does that make sense?

Anything else you can tell us about the interview you did have? Looking back on it do you think there was a moment or project that lost the audience?

Thank you for taking the time out to look at it and for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

The intention was to use the first project to show more of the process and the second one to show more polished renders and be a little more presentation heavy, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. I can definitely re-work them both to show more of the process. I have quite a few mock-ups, prototypes and user testing photos I didn’t include.
The Camaro was me trying to pick up some skills and have something to show for the end of it. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best project to begin because, you’re right, it has nothing to do with any of my other work… I just picked a car because I thought the form would be challenging but fun.

I thought the interview went well. I had their attention throughout, I think. There was a moment when they asked me if I was looking to work for a start-up or a larger firm and I think my answer wasn’t quite what they were looking for. That particular internship role might not have worked out because they were also looking for somebody to continue part-time after summer and I was unavailable for that time.

I’m particularly worried because I haven’t had any other call-backs for interviews and I’m not sure if I just need to re-do the portfolio or add more projects or if there’s something I’m missing completely. (One thing that has been pointed out to me, and that I am trying to fix, is my complete lack of skill at networking.)

I like your work - especially the ANM bag - it is well-researched and a very viable product.
I am missing a design process for the vial tray, and that is one of those projects where you can impress future employers with.
Why is TPE the right material, it seems to isolate the vials from the cool pack, why not a lunch box type design or a kind of pouch/sleeve.
With a disruptive innovation such as Theia, I would like to see you tackle multiple perspectives needed to bring this device to the market - test it with users to see how they will use it, and a small business/marketing plan with a sales&distribution model.

Your exercises are good but you can make a selection of the best work. You obviously have a good sense for design.
If you do a CAD form exercise, it has to be perfectly executed. I like your first design for the TV stand the best.

Your sketches are decent overall though you can work on creating your own style more, being more expressive and while these sketches are quite flat, see if you can make them pop off the paper with a more 3D feel.

I think the first thing I would be looking for in an intern is if his work fits to the company, it is always good to have a clear profile - what kind of projects do you want to do and in what kind of industry/markets do you want to operate. Then it is about what you can specifically mean and the least I would expect from an intern is good ideas, an efficient work process, presentable visualisations and good CAD skills.


Thank you so much for your feedback.

We went with TPE because water retention, cleaning and space constraints were our biggest considerations. The vials that are kept in the slots up ahead are actually not meant to be too cold. I’m realizing as I’m writing this that there is way too much information missing from the way I’ve presented the project. I can definitely add the details and the steps in the decision making process that we used to get to that particular solution.

Thank you again, this gives me a lot actionable points to work on and I have a summer ahead of me to make my projects communicate better. I will also be adding a couple of projects that I’m working on right now which should help me make my portfolio better suited to certain industries.

This is more of a general question for anybody that is reading this. (Might not be the best place to ask it)
I’ve been toying around with generative modelling on Grasshopper, would you say that’s a skill worth adding to the portfolio or is that better off on an Instagram account with other experiments?

Whether or not to add GH to your portfolio/resume depends on your level of expertise.
Grasshopper at experimentation level is something very different from implementation level.
So if you feel ready to apply it into your paid work, it will be good to include it.