Student portfolio: how to deal with internship products

Hi core77,

Long time lurker but avid reader of the boards. I’m currently re-designing my portfolio as a graduating student and will post it soon, but I wanted to hear opinions on this particular issue I’m not sure how to deal with.

I have done a few internships during my studies, and I am allowed to show works that have been put into sales/production, but am limited by NDAs as to showing process. I know process is key in ID portfolios, but I also feel that maybe as a student, having products that have actually been made & sold (as opposed to only school projects) might have some value as well. Am I wrong in this assumption? I would say I had an active hand in developing those products (not just a small role here and there) btw.

So what are your thoughts on how to deal with combining schoolwork vs company work?
Is it not worth showing at all if I can’t show much process? Is there any value (as a student) to having those types of products in my portfolio mixed in with school projects (where I can show more process)?
Should I maybe have a dedicated section in my portfolio for those types of projects so readers understand?

Thank you in advance for the advice! Will post my portfolio once it’s almost done for feedback

Internships and products that are being produced are very valuable. It will show that you have some experience working with other designers, design and manufacturing constraints, deadlines, etc.

I would say make your student portfolio as complete as possible. Then at the end show the products from internships with a brief explanation of your role, design parameters and what you learned. If your student work is kick ass then the internship work is just icing on the cake.

However, don’t expect the final photos of your produced work to carry the weight of your portfolio. Just because some of your products got produced doesn’t mean you’ll get hired. As a new grad you will be assessed on your skills primarily. If your school work portfolio is average then it just means you are an average designer with some work experience.

I agree with Francisco.
The skillset you show and the process, even from students work, will definitely weigh heavier than the fact that projects got launched.
Whether or not the projects made it into production wouldn’t interest me so much unless you can point to specific aspects that you worked on and that made production possible.

There are so many factors that influence the launch of a product, with most of them out of your control, that I would never hold it against an applicant if he/she didn’t have production work.
For example, an ambitious kitchen concept for emerging markets that you did as a school project and has been laid out nicely would interest me a lot more than a set of plastic salad bowls you did during your internship unless you have been heavily involved in the production.

As Francisco already mentioned, the conceptional work that you can show, needs to be strong in process, story telling and result.
If you have strong concept work, it is easy for an interviewer to imagine that there must have been good process leading to the projects on the market and that you had a hand in it.

I agree with the posts above.

I think this issue is one that has affected most designers when it comes time to put together portfolios (or at least it has in my experience).

As the previous posts have said, show as much process you can in the projects that you can show - its those skills that people will be looking for and if you can show consistency within those skills in the projects you show, then I would like to say the person looking through your portfolio would be able to fill in the gaps for the Internship work.

Most people will know that young designers are in this situation and are held back by what they can show (maybe some people are less understanding, but maybe you don’t want to work with people who expect you to show work protected by NDAs…).

I hope that helps a bit!

Internships and products that are being produced are very valuable, helps for making portfolio.

uber_shnitz, definitely show production products if you can! Just augment that with things you can show process on… and lets see what you worked on!