As head of a major Silicon Valley industrial design studio, I review hundreds or even thousands of portfolios every year. It is an essential part of my job as I look for the best people to join our growing team. Because the right mix of talent is so crucial to our success, I make it a principle to review every portfolio sent to us myself.
That commitment puts me in a bit of a tight spot, as I struggle to find the right way to say the right things to people whose high hopes I’m forced to dash. Despite the recent surge in interest in design careers, the quality of candidates’ portfolios seems to have stagnated or even diminished.
The problem has become increasingly acute. I’m eager to hire the next great class of designers, but to my dismay–and the dismay of many young hopefuls who’ve often spent many years and thousands of dollars preparing to enter the industry–I’m finding that the impressive academic credentials of most students don’t add up to the basic skills I require in a junior designer.