Hire Me?! The Portfolio Handbook

Hey everyone,

Our studio created book on “How to create your first portfolio.” The book is/was aimed primarily for sophomore students who are in the process of building their first portfolio. We made the book over the course of the entire summer quarter. It captures all the knowledge we’ve learned about creating portfolios over the years and puts it into a guidebook of sorts. This was a great opportunity for us to give back to the program that has given some much to us as designers. We wanted to help strengthen our design community at DAAP. In the process we ended up creating something that we thought could be bigger than just a PDF we pass around our program, which is how we ended up with this book.

In short: “Portfolios are a bitch to make. That’s why we wanted to help. It’s been a while since we were underclassmen, but we never forgot the emotional roller coaster of trying to get our first job (we still go through it). Looking back, we wish we would have known what we know now. This book is for you: a collection of our knowledge passed down to you in the hopes that you become better designers, better professionals, and better people.”

As of right now we are selling it on Blurb to help raise some funds for our senior show. We haven’t figured out the best distribution model just yet, but the book is available for purchase (Hire Me?! The Portfolio Handbook by UCID12 | Blurb Books).

Of course I did not do this myself. Mike Roller gave us the idea and direction throughout the process. 18 UCID (4th-year) students helped make this possible.

Here are some pictures…

We just finished and got the project out in the open. Mike was able to present the book at the national IDSA conference this week. We want to know your thoughts, opinions and any advice.


Looks awesome. Would love to see more. I wonder though if you’ll get a lot of students buying. There’s certainly value there but wonder if something like this should be free for good of all designers :wink:


For those who remember, the results from this survey are part of the book. Creating a Portfolio How-To Book
Also, if you happened to fill out the survey and included your name, you’re actually thanked in our appendix.

(Disclaimer: I’m only one of the few people who contribtued to this book, so I can’t speak definitively, but this is how I see it.)

The end goal is to get this book out to as many students as possible. Right now, I think the idea is to try and get some physical copies out into the real world. The book reads much nicer physically than it does digitally, since it was designed with the intent for it to be printed. Also a printed version is much more likely to be read as opposed to a pdf which will likely just be skimmed over. Plus, it’s also a nice way to raise a little bit of money for our senior show. :wink:

I’m sure there will be a pdf version released at some point. Can’t say for certain when, as that decision is out of my scope now. But I can definitely see this being distributed to students at some point.

This FANTASTIC!! I wish I had this when I was in school. I still have my first portfolio, and I look at it now and cringe at the stress it took to put it together and the quality. I joke all the time and say “I wouldn’t have hired me off of that”!!

I have to agree with R. This seems like something that should be free. I remember when I graduated IDSA had a book out there for free called “How to get and Industrial Designer Job”. Like most of IDSA stuff it was out dated, but it was free and helped a lot of us out. I wonder if this is something you could run through them and ask them to pay for publishing, printing and all of you out of pocket costs? Just a thought.

Good to hear you worked with Mike Roller. He is a good guy.

Avoid Comic Sans and Papyrus?!? Are you kidding? They’re my go-to font selections! Nothing says professionalism like the simulated penmanship of an 8 year old…

Great job on the book though.

He’s our professor and indeed a good guy. The free model, like Sain was saying, is something we are still working out. Putting a value on it is a tough thing. The cost set now is basically the book cost plus $5. Since the only costs we’ve paid to date is the initial proof copies ($60 total) it really has cost us nothing but 3 months of our time. The hesitancy to just send out the PDF is more or less because we aren’t sure where this book will be going (within our school and in the community) so we are just moving slowly.

We’ll keep this updated at is further unfolds. Like I said, we just sent this to print last week. :slight_smile:

I am really excited for this. Awesome work.

just an idea, but maybe consider posting names of professionals who contributed in your survey? might be motivation for them to want to purchase a copy for themselves, but also for others to see who’s contribution made it into the book.

Anyone who chose to contribute and name themselves in the survey should be listed. A lot of professionals responded anonymously or didn’t want themselves named or their companies named. So unless they revealed that info to us, we had to leave it out.

(Hey Core Boards, long time no see!)

Just to throw in my two cents - the students did an amazing job putting this together. As one designer said, “I never thought I would spend a Friday night reading and laughing at a book about how to make portfolios.” I asked them to do something that was a big undertaking, but we all believed in the value of it so they made it happen.

I’m torn about the idea of the PDF being available. I respect the notion of helping our industry but also want to see the students compensated for their work. I’d love to see these guys raise some money for their senior show. I like PackageID’s idea of having it funded by others, and I hope to use some of my connections from the recent IDSA conference to see if we can make that a reality.

You could also charge for the PDFs (at a lower price, but very, very low production costs).

Just to follow up on my comment. My suggestion was intended as an idea to help you sell more books. I’d think by posting a listing of professionals who contributed (and offered their name) you’d do two things.

  1. Professional who contributed may want to order a copy as a memento for themselves. Lots of these pros also work with other students (I know I do), so they’d be more likely to recommend other students to purchase it as well.
  2. Students can see the number contributors, maybe even see someone from a company they like, and would have some more validation for investing in the book. Just like when a company lists awards or reviews they received about a product they sell. Helps the customer validate their decision to buy YOUR product over something else.

Think you have a great idea here, and seems like a good product. Some focus on marketing could certainly help your fundraising goals.

Very true. The marketing was not something we took into consideration during the process. It is something to definitely consider now that we are targeting a larger audience.

I feel like a screen shot of this discussion should be taken and put into the book illustrating the importance of validation and feedback- for that is an important ingredient for improving and creating a portfolio.

I had a meeting wih Mike Roller and the Kscope crew today and he showed me the book. I want to throw out another GREAT JOB guys!! Very proffesional and very informative. I still go back to wondering if you can get someone to sponsor this for you. Look into IDSA, Yeh Ideology, or maybe Rita Sue. I guess my thought is how do you get it into the hands of every student coming out of school, or better yet every Junior currently in school? Hell I think there is a lot of professionals that could get a lot out of this. We all hate putting our portfolios together (at least I do) so something like this could help dull the pain.


to PackageID’s comment. You guys should check out www.kickstarter.com
I think this project would be an awesome one to get on there and be funded.

Great idea. I really think this could be a very valuable tool. Maybe I am just dreaming, but this would have been great in my professional practices class in college.

Edit: BTW all of you that created this should be buying one and using it in your job interviews. It is a great piece!!

Looks like an awesome idea! Where can I get one? I am ready to sign on the dotted line

This is great, a fantastic resource. I’ve always told students in ID that when in doubt, keep it simple, use small fonts minimally and let the imagery do the work. Don’t pretend to be a graphic designer.

Just what I was thinking, I would give Kickstarter a try.