I'm at a crossroads.

Right now a Junior in Industrial Design.

I am starting to build up a professional portfolio, but just can’t decide what direction to take it.

Here’s the situation.

I have time to do several out of school projects, but I’m not sure what to focus on.

On one hand, I love the Sori Yanagi, artistic, handcrafted feel of product design in terms of ceramics, housewares, and furniture. I am currently taking ceramics classes and plan on doing some really cool in-class stuff with that.

But on the other hand, I also love technology and consumer gadgets, and working in Silicon Valley would be pretty, pretty awesome.

I notice with a lot of industrial designers, especially the younger ones coming right out of school, they have portfolios specifically focused for what companies they want to work for. The thing is, I don’t know what I want to do. I’m at a crossroads. And I feel as though if I do both, I will only have less work than others for when I go into an interview or show my portfolio to a company, since I will only be able to focus about half my energy into that particular field of ID.

Could someone offer me any advice on this?

Thank you so much.

Hey TSE2,

I think at this stage in your schooling, do both and show both in your portfolio; and when it makes sense do a cross-over project that blends the two categories.

The two industries have a lot of similarities and they both influence each other.

Definitely tailor it to the industry you are applying, make sure they can tell immediately that you’re genuinely passionate about the field. But do you need 8 shoe projects if you’re trying to get a shoe job, probably not.

I don’t think it’s a smart move to have a hyper focused and narrow portfolio coming straight out of school. No one is going to be an expert in a field fresh out the gate, and no employee is expecting that. But by showing your range and flexibility to work in multiple categories, solve problems and use a refined designed aesthetic throughout you’re showing them more of your potential as a hire.

I agree it is a good idea to have a balanced portfolio. You should have at least 1-2 projects in the field you are applying to, but the portfolio should show your thinking across a variety of challenges. When I was in footwear I definitely had a bias against people who had a fully industry specific portfolio.