I was honored to be a reviewer at Ad 2 Roanoke’s annual Portfolio Review, held on April 22nd.

We had a great group of students, with some truly impressive work. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that several of us were glad we were not competing for jobs against a few of these go-getters. Throughout the day, a few overarching themes did emerge, so for our upcoming generation of advertising professionals, I offer the following perspective and tidbits of advice:

Diverse Skills

If you have writing experience, play it up. Whether it’s some advanced English courses, advertising copywriting or journalism; writing skills are applicable across a variety of jobs and may get your foot in the door. Not all design or advertising curriculums require a writing component. Emphasizing those skills will set you apart from the crowd.


While we’re on the subject of writing, let me bring up a wretched four-letter word: TYPO. Don’t have any – plain and simple. Check, double-check, triple-check and have someone else check your materials. This is not the time to be rushed or careless. During the job search, you might get lucky and have a typo overlooked in your resume or portfolio. Then again, you may have someone like me who spots them a mile away. With all the gorgeous work you’ve created, do you want a typo to be what they remember about you and your work?


Personalizing your portfolio and resume to each job application is a nice touch; however, don’t make it so specific that it looks a bit stalker-ish. It’s great if your dream job is to design CD artwork for Lady Gaga. But don’t make every component of your presentation about little monsters and outrageous fashion. I’m pretty sure Lady Gaga and her record label have lots of designers at their disposal – will your world end if they don’t pick you? Keep that in mind and expand both your mind and your work to other possibilities.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice your poker face. Seasoned advertising professionals have had years to develop thick skin when it comes to criticism of our art. Those of you just starting out haven’t experienced that joy yet. If an interviewer questions your reasoning around a particular design or copy point – practice an objective answer, not a passionate defense. You probably won’t bring them around anyway and may end up looking defensive. Nod and smile. Repeat.

Be Memorable

Consider having a leave-behind of some sort. Whether it’s a business card, a copy of your work on a disc or booklet or some other piece of memorabilia, leave a small reminder for the interviewer of what you have to offer.

It goes without saying to always dress your best, have a firm handshake and look people in the eye. Actually that goes for everyday, not just during job interviews. Good luck!

I really enjoyed the portfolio review. I thought the student’s brought their A-game and even found in inspirational. I felt like I was able to give great feedback due to the quality of work.

What other advice do you have upcoming advertising professionals? Tell me below.