Is a hard copy design portfolio always better than a digital one?
June 8, 2015 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Even when the job posting says "Please send applications to [email]", with no address listed?

I am applying for an intern graphic arts position at a small (~10 people) but established tech startup. Their offices are not particularly convenient to get to (part of a university campus, I have no idea where to park).

My partner insists that it is imperative that I bring them a bound hard copy so that they can touch it and feel it and remember it better, and THEN email them so they have that for their records. I feel like that might be rude or untoward?

I actually called them last week with the intention of asking about bringing my hard copy in but I fluffed up the conversation with other things and I ultimately chickened out of asking them directly about the hard copy and in fact told them I would send the email ( I know ). And I don't particularly want to call again before taking next steps.

So ... how would you feel about an applicant for an intern position showing up unannounced at your small office with a portfolio, when the ad only specifies an email address?
posted by onehundredand80 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this is way more of a work/money question.

But as someone who has been in the position of hiring people and also working for many years in the arts- faster is better and do what they ask you to do. They asked for the email. Send the email as soon as you can.
posted by Blisterlips at 11:20 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

In my experience, you can bring your physical portfolio to your interview. I don't think I'd drop by unannounced with expectations that they'd have time to spend with you to go over your work. I'd just do as they asked re; the email.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 11:23 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So ... how would you feel about an applicant for an intern position showing up unannounced at your small office with a portfolio, when the ad only specifies an email address?

Really, really bad. Like immediately remove from consideration bad. Inability to follow directions is not a positive, it's a negative. Doing things in an inconvenient way is not a positive, it's a negative. Showing up at the office uninvited is definitely, definitely not a positive. They don't want you there.

You can bring a copy of your portfolio to an interview, in addition to the one you submit the way you are supposed to submit. Don't do this.
posted by brainmouse at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2015 [20 favorites]

Best answer: So ... how would you feel about an applicant for an intern position showing up unannounced at your small office with a portfolio, when the ad only specifies an email address?

Depends, am I on deadline? Then slightly annoyed about someone not following simple instructions.

Not on deadline? Less annoyed, but still, you know, annoyed. The question in my mind is "Will this person keep doing this not following directions thing an annoying me if they're hired? 'Cause it sure looks like it."

If you show up with coffee and muffins and ask if there's anything you can do to help out for a couple minutes, that would probably catch my eye. But everyone is different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:29 AM on June 8, 2015

Listening matters in graphic design. If you come in with a physical portfolio when they've specifically asked you to send it via email, you may demonstrate that you think your desires are more important than their instructions.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:30 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

My partner insists that it is imperative that I bring them a bound hard copy so that they can touch it and feel it and remember it better...

If your partner is not in the design field, then ignore them on this one. They should like they're in sales, which is very different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So ... how would you feel about an applicant for an intern position showing up unannounced at your small office with a portfolio, when the ad only specifies an email address?

A guy showed up to my office once to apply for an internship position. Our posting had listed an email address for submitting applications and no physical address, though it is freely available online. He had with him a hard copy of his resume, cover letter, and writing samples (four of them, we'd asked for one), all bound in little presentation binders, and placed in a manila envelope with his name in a careful calligraphic hand. He was wearing a suit and everything. He handed it all off to me in person and politely/nervously told me a few words about his experience before leaving.


It made him more memorable, all right, but what we remembered most was the fact that this guy was way, way too much of a try-hard - that his obvious enthusiasm might very well be undermined by his lack of understanding of basic social conventions. And that most likely a much older person had been giving him very outdated career advice.

We still reviewed his resume like everybody else's, of course, but even if he had made it to our lists of finalists, we would have been ambivalent about hiring him for that reason.

Bring it with you to the interview, if you get one.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:49 AM on June 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

They have specifically SAID they want portfolios emailed; they've emphasized this by only providing an email address, not a street address. You can take along a hard copy if & when you get an interview, but walking into their offices unannounced to do the exact opposite of what they instruct applicants to do will only prove you are unable to follow simple directions, and your application will be tossed in the trash.
posted by easily confused at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recently interviewed a bunch of junior designers for a position at an established tech company. I noticed the following:

- Most applicants ONLY provide digital portfolios
- A little under half of applicants who came in for an interview brought print portfolios - I think this is good at least to bring as an option.
- All applicants brought a laptop with a digital portfolio. I was most impressed with those that made an actual Keynote presentation with their work.
- A printed leave-behind was only provided by a couple applicants. This no longer is a must. It was when I was interviewing 5+ years ago, but it is almost a little tone-deaf now for a tech company. I know for a fact that the last time I left a leave-behind the interviewers didn't go through it at all. I'd have some business cards on hand, though.
- If someone had shown up IN-PERSON we would have talked shit about them and they would have been booted from the running. That definitely crosses a line between being enthusiastic and being disruptive, odd, and unprofessional.

When I was getting started in the design world over a decade ago, I would read a ton of advice that to get your foot in the door, you just show up to an agency, "Knock knock, may I drop off my portfolio?" We were at the tail end of that even being remotely appropriate though, it wasn't something I ever did.

Submit your portfolio digitally, followup via email once or twice as is appropriate. I wouldn't even call again - I would guess they do not relish even receiving phone calls unannounced (I didn't).

It would definitely be highly inappropriate to show up unannounced with a print portfolio - it's just not done. Just knock 'em dead with your skills and your experience!
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, don't show up unannounced. Email them a link to your work, like they asked. Then go to the interview that they schedule, if they like your work.

You CAN bring your IRL portfolio with you, if you want, but don't force it. Since this is a tech startup, better to bring your laptop or tablet, loaded up with the digital version. *Some* interviewers don't even care to look at your book at all, since they've already seen it online.

(Your boyfriend *could* be right, if you were interviewing for a company who does lots of print, but I can't imagine a tech startup needs that much print design.)
posted by functionequalsform at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2015

I'm in a different field, but I certainly agree with the sentiment that if a job posting tells you what form they want materials in, that's how they want the materials. End of story. Certainly bring a copy of your materials with you for the interview, but ignore the impulse to provide materials in the format your boyfriend thinks is best when the firm has told you the format they prefer.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:21 PM on June 8, 2015

Best answer: OK, I'm surprised no one has said this, but:

If it's a tech company, they will want things digitally. Period. Because that is their medium. Not only are they people who prefer looking at a digital portfolio, digital is the final form the work will take. It doesn't even make sense to bring a print portfolio, unless you have some special print project to show off (in which case you'd bring it to the interview). But I agree that bringing a laptop to show off your digital work would be more relevant.
posted by the_blizz at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, I'm really relieved at how unanimous this is. I was getting paranoid that it was just my social anxiety making excuses not to go in person. This is a huge weight off my chest, you guys.

I didn't realise bringing a laptop to an interview was a real thing now. I've heard of tablets-to-interviews but I don't have a tablet.

This is my first time applying in the tech industry, and I hadn't thought of it, but it makes sense to showcase digital work digitally.

Thank you everyone for your input!
posted by onehundredand80 at 9:08 PM on June 8, 2015

I have interviewed designers for a tech company. N-thing bringing a laptop with your work queued up, ready for you to talk through. An added plus is if you have your browser open to work you have done that is still live. Digitally savvy graphic designers are my jam. Portfolio work doesn't even always have to be polished, I love looking at drafts and talking to you about your thinking and approach. I am assessing not only design quality but curiosity and a willingness to learn about and push the medium. This is even more true of juniors and interns who will not always have extensive portfolios so it's really about assessing potential.

Good luck!
posted by like_neon at 6:14 AM on June 9, 2015

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