2023 Portfolio Seminar

On the morning of November 11th at Daemen University, AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Portfolio Seminar. Students from all over Buffalo converged at Daemen’s Tower Gallery where Emma Lonnen, a Graphic Designer at Crowley Webb, Chelsea Turton, a Graphic Designer at Fisher Price, and Andy Rose, Vice President and Brand Development specialist at dPost, discussed the ins-and-outs of a great portfolio. With nearly 50 years experience between the three presenters, students gathered an array of input ranging from the technical to personal sides of presenting work.

Below are some takeaways and highlights:

  • Quality projects over the quantity of projects always! Every presenter agreed that showing even just 4 projects with interesting ideas, integrated or cross-channel solutions, and quality mockups went much further to recruiters than bombarding them with 10+ “small” pieces (those might be worth putting on social media).
  • Get out there! Networking is challenging, but coming to events like the ones AAF Buffalo hosts will help recruiters and agency professionals know who you are before applying and see that you’re out there and interested. It’s all about creating a connection, so don’t feel the need to be overly professional—strike up a conversation and say hello. You never know where it might go.
  • Submit your work in competitions. Competitions like the American Advertising Awards or the Don Nichols Scholarship Competition get tons of eyes on your work (and you!) without you having to wait for a formal job opening. Sometimes professionals at local agencies will make a note of the work they see and who it was by in case an opportunity opens up in the future. 
  • LinkedIn is a great place to be. Almost all the presenters have used LinkedIn in a professional capacity to find talent, connect with colleagues, or apply for jobs. LinkedIn is a great way to get your work, and yourself, out there—you’d be surprised who’s browsing for talent.
  • Be yourself. Each presenter noted they often see young professionals try to be “professional” or mimic the behavior of people they look up to. Show off who you are! Employers are looking for a diverse perspective to add to their team. They’re looking for a person who they’d like to spend 40 hours a week with, every week. Don’t be afraid to loosen up your shoulders and act natural, it’ll land you in a spot that’s a better fit for you and for them.

The tips in the bullets above represent a fraction of what Emma, Chelsea, and Andy covered this year, so mark your calendars for next November when three more Buffalo creatives will talk about what they think makes a killer portfolio.