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Thread: Work sample question - to bring or not to bring

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Work sample question - to bring or not to bring

    I have an interview tomorrow and they've requested to see my portfolio. Up until now I haven't needed one so I pulled a few things together. My question is regarding site plans renderings. The job requires some design skills/knowledge. They also prefer CAD. I don't have CAD but feel I could easily learn it. I do have some hand rendered plans from grad school. The problem is my local Kinkos cannot scan oversized color documents. They have to send it out and it will be a few days. Not going to happen. So, should I bring the hand rendered projects in all their oversized glory or omit them from my portfolio?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Dandy, I know you have the very best intentions, but portfolios CANNOT be scrapped together overnight. Since you have limited time, I would recommend bringing in the drawings and being prepared to talk about them in the interview. Rather than charge into an interview with a thick roll of drawings (which looks old school) can you un-staple any hard copy sheet sets of drawings, fold each sheet into 8 1/2x11 size and then clip each folder sheet together with a binder clip? If you have ever seen planning reports with folded zoning maps as inserted sleeves it might give you a better idea.

    Second, AutoCAD CANNOT be easily learned on the job. To do basic drafting/drawing sheet assembly takes anywhere from 3-6 months of ON THE JOB practice (including LISP routines, command prompts, plot style configurations, xrefs, scales, etc.). No CAD course or book is going to teach you what you can learn on the job. It's next to impossible to learn design on the job unless you have previous design experience/formal training. Graphics communication (which is separate than design) is preparing documents that communicate well visually (colors, hatches, spacing, white space, leader lines, aerial photos, titleblocks, etc.). I learned graphics communication from a landscape architect and it took me about 2-3 years to fully understand HOW a drawing communicates/stresses items.

    I'm not trying to discourage you. Obviously you have what it takes to make it to the interviewing round, but some of these skills are not quickly learned. Good luck!
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Hope it's not first thing in the morning

    Try this: lay out the best oversized images on a flat surface. Whoops, put the critters in another room. You don't want four-legged help with this endeavor.
    Take a bunch of digital photos of them (the images, not the animals!), bracketing the exposures. (Several points high and low, auto flash, no flash, etc.)
    Rinse & repeat with the rest of the really good images.

    Load onto computer, paste images into Powerpoint. Crop, add captions, call-outs, time frames. Save as PDF.

    Load PDF onto a flash drive, take to Kinkos, print out letter-sized. Or tabloid sized if the aspect ration is better.

    In my experience, no one pours over line weights or brush strokes, or wants to verify your signature block on the illustrations. Small replicas will be sufficient.

    As far as the CAD goes, look up some nearby courses right now, and tomorrow tell them that you've done that, and that you'll learn it.

    Knock 'em dead, GF!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Thanks for the input. In all my previous interviews a portfolio wasn't required or even requested so up until this point I haven't had to devote any energy to it. Lesson learned.

    Good suggestion regarding the folding. I was hesitant about bringing in a tube of plans.

    Re: CAD - the potential employer is aware that I don't currently know CAD but I believe I have the aptitude to learn it. CAD isn't required but preferred so I'm hoping to wow them in other areas. Also it isn't a primary function of the job, so that has positives (don't need to know it on day one) and negatives (might not have as much chance to learn/hone skills). It would be my plan to take a class on AutoCAD at a local uni to supplement any OTJ training.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Definitely stress your ability to learn the basics of AutoCAD. If you have time, pour over an AutoCAD website or two to briefly scan over terminology. It doesn't hurt to phrase your interview answers using some technical jargon (but don't just throw out ten cent words either). The important thing is earning the offer first. But learning AutoCAD from scratch is a STEEP learning curve. Learning how to use it AND design with it is also a separate steep learning curve.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Portfolios are over hyped. They really are only relevant for deep design jobs. I have seen many jobs that ask for a portfolio and then never discuss it, because they don't really care. I would never require a portfolio in the public sector. Maybe something that shows you can write, but hand drawings from grad school seems like you are stretching.

    CAD is easy. You can learn it on the job. Unless that is going to be your primary job duty, it is simple and intuitive. Good luck!!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    What Veloise said. Most of my work is computer generated or small enough that I can put it through my own scanner. Every once in a while, though, I will have something that is not. That's when the digital camera comes out. I have found that hanging it on the wall , in a naturally lit, bright room works better than placing it on the floor and using the flash. On the wall it is easier to get the camera lens parallel to the image and not have my toes accidently creep into the picture.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Hang or lay?

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    What Veloise said. Most of my work is computer generated or small enough that I can put it through my own scanner. Every once in a while, though, I will have something that is not. That's when the digital camera comes out. I have found that hanging it on the wall , in a naturally lit, bright room works better than placing it on the floor and using the flash. On the wall it is easier to get the camera lens parallel to the image and not have my toes accidently creep into the picture.
    I suggested using the floor due to time constraints. Hanging something up requires a method of attachment (and then a method of removing that from the image), clear wall space, available light...Dandy was in a hurry!

    Some years back I found Photoshop Elements (an entry-level program) on a CD at a thrift store. All the features I need for the image manipulation I do. Experimenting, I found one that lets me straighten and un-skew a trapezoid, which is how a number of perfect rectangles came out after being photographed. Useful stuff.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    What Veloise said. Most of my work is computer generated or small enough that I can put it through my own scanner. Every once in a while, though, I will have something that is not. That's when the digital camera comes out. I have found that hanging it on the wall , in a naturally lit, bright room works better than placing it on the floor and using the flash. On the wall it is easier to get the camera lens parallel to the image and not have my toes accidently creep into the picture.
    I've used this method when I was in Sri Lanka when building a new map of the village. There was an old hand drawn map in the administrator's office which was the only point of reference from before the tsunami so we needed to have it. It worked out pretty well. Do take shots of it with and without the flash-if you have Photoshop of GIMP you can manipulate the brightness/contrast further.

    I have a portfolio that I bring with me to every job interview whether it's requested or not. Usually a writing example, some print ads, a ten page report, and 1-2 page flyers of my previous projects. I have one oversized piece that I've got printed on an 11x17 paper that folds up neatly within the binder.

    As far as the AutoCAD is concerned, it's not overly difficult and while there is a learning curve (like most other things) I think you will be ok since they aren't asking you to be an expert and you aren't doing architectural drawings.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Well after stressing about work samples I went with nrschmid's suggested and folded. Annnd, they didn't even ask to see my portfolio. So what they never know...

    I was honest about my AutoCad experience (or lack there of) and based on their body cues they didn't seem too concerned.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  11. #11
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    Well after stressing about work samples I went with nrschmid's suggested and folded. Annnd, they didn't even ask to see my portfolio. So what they never know...

    I was honest about my AutoCad experience (or lack there of) and based on their body cues they didn't seem too concerned.
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I have seen many jobs that ask for a portfolio and then never discuss it, because they don't really care.
    Told ya so Portfolios are overrated
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Agree with the views expressed about not trying to kluge together a portfolio quickly. It doesn't work.

    Have the actual drawings on hand, instead.

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