intern candidate told me I’m “not with the times,” senior managers are unprepared for meetings, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Intern candidate told me I’m “not with the times”

I’m one of the intern coordinators for our office, specifically to review and manage our design interns. We’ve had intern positions open for three seasons (fall, summer, spring) and we’ve had good turn out in applicants except for one major problem. About 3/4 of the applicants are not sending in a portfolio (be it a link to a digital, web-based one or a PDF of their work). Regardless, I’ve been able to find some stellar interns in the portfolios that were submitted.

This all came to my attention more visibly when a candidate reached out and asked why he hasn’t been contacted for an interview. When I pulled his application, I could not locate a portfolio. I emailed back and said that as the job posting states, candidates are required to submit a portfolio to be considered and invited him to send me a portfolio now. He responded, telling me that I was “not with the times” and it was “unreasonable to expect students to put together a portfolio before being invited for an interview.” I’m only two years out of school, and I don’t think hiring trends in design fields have changed that much.

I didn’t invite him for an interview, because I felt like I was being strong-armed into it. I’d really like to get more applicants with portfolios, and with the high number of people applying without a portfolio and based on this applicant’s response, I’m now wondering if there’s something wrong with my approach to hiring.

You are not with the times?! Good lord. This guy has an awful lot of confidence for someone so inexperienced and out of touch.

It is very, very normal to request a portfolio when you’re hiring for design work. Most designers want a chance to show you their work. And this guy’s statement that it’s “unreasonable” to expect design students to put together a portfolio before an interview — what?! I mean, good luck to him.

You can write this particular guy off as an ass, but the applicants applying without a portfolio are joining the already-very-large group of job seekers who don’t follow instructions. It’s a weirdly common thing. (Do make sure your ads clearly request a portfolio though. And because these are interns, it doesn’t hurt to be really specific about exactly what you want and what formats you’ll consider. Lots of them still won’t do it though, because that’s just how hiring goes. Don’t feel guilty about rejecting those people.)

2. Why are high-level managers unprepared when they come to my meetings?

I’ve noticed both within and outside my organization, certain high-level managers, directors, and executives tend to be completely unprepared for meetings. I might attribute this to the likelihood that they have become inundated with meetings, and back-to-back meetings all day, every day leaves little room to prepare. Another cause could just be general disorganization or incompetence. While it’s somewhat rare to see someone like that at high levels, it definitely does happen.

I find this baffling. While I’m relatively young and a newish manager, I do have eight years of work experience, and I wouldn’t dream of just showing up to a meeting with no clue what the meeting is about, who will be there, and no thoughtful contributions to bring to the discussion.

As a result, and based on feedback given, I start most meetings off with a five-minute primer on context for why the meeting was scheduled in the first place. But I guess I’m just having a week where it seems to keep happening, despite the primer, and makes these meetings really frustrating and at times unproductive. Any thoughts about why this happens, and what to do about it?

Well … having to give a five-minute primer at the start of a meeting isn’t outrageous. When you’re dealing with busy senior managers, they may have a ton going on and it might not be realistic for them to remember the details or context for your project.

And really, much of the time, it’s just about people being busy. It’s pretty common for high-level managers to get pulled in a bunch of different directions. It’s also not uncommon for high-level managers to be in meetings primarily to give a high-level perspective or simply sign off on something — and they can often do that without spending significant time prepping for the meeting first (so they may not realize when that’s not going to be the case). So while you personally wouldn’t show up to a meeting with no idea of what it’s about or who will be there, sometimes that makes sense at higher levels.

I’d just assume that you’ll always need to give context at the start of the meeting and, where possible, don’t rely on high-level execs to have done much prep work. Try to structure the meetings so that you’re getting what you need from them right there while they’re in the room, rather than relying on them to have done it earlier. In cases where that’s not possible, be as explicit as you can about flagging that early, and what the reasons are for it. (For example, when sending the meeting invite: “Can you block off 15 minutes before the 23rd to review the attached report on X, so I can get your input on it when we meet?” If instead you just ask to meet for their feedback on the X report, they may assume you’ll be walking them through it in the meeting and not realize you’re hoping they’ll show up already having read it.)

3. Can I coach my favorite job candidate before she interviews with my boss?

I’m writing to ask if it is ethical to coach a favored candidate for a job opening at our company.

We have an entry-level full time job opening at our company, which I will be supervising, and thus I am the first examiner before I hand the application over to my boss, who will make the final decision.

From the candidates I’ve received, one stands out. But her application could use some improvement before I submit it to my boss. Is it ethical (or even legal) to write to the candidate with some tips on how to improve their resume/cover letter/interview with my boss? To be clear, I have no personal connection/relation to this candidate. I only know this person from the first interview I’ve done.

It’s legal, but you shouldn’t do it. Your loyalty needs to be more with your boss than with the candidate — and your boss should have full information about what the candidate is like without your coaching.

But you can certainly share your impressions with your boss and explain why you think this candidate is the strongest; acknowledge that her application could use work, and explain why you think she’s strong despite that. That way your boss can make a more fully informed decision — which he can’t do if you’re putting a gloss on the candidate that he doesn’t know about. (And in addition to being unfair to your boss, it’s putting other candidates at an unfair disadvantage.)

4. Should I wear makeup to cover my break-outs at work?

I have read your responses regarding makeup in the office and appreciated your take. I have a more specific concern on makeup and looking polished in the office. I am a woman in my 20’s but I still suffer from occasionally severe bouts of cystic acne, along with the scaring and dark spots that are often left behind. I have a strict skin care regimen and have seen improvement, but I don’t like wearing makeup when I’m going through a bad breakout, because it slows the healing process and often makes the raised blemishes look more apparent.

My office is fairly casual so no makeup is common, but I’m worried that I look unpolished and unclean next to my mostly clear-skinned colleagues. Should I wear makeup during breakouts or after it has healed and I have dark spots left behind?

Not if you don’t want to! If you’re in an office where no makeup is common, and you’re not an a field that places a high premium on looking super polished and made up (and it sounds like you’re not), you don’t need to worry about this. Also, read this New York Times piece on the de-stigmatization of acne.

5. I’m worried my colleague might be dying

I work in event production and often manage talent. They are not my employees, and are therefore not contractually bound to me outside of the specific events I book them at; however, there are many that I work with on a fairly regular basis.

One performer who I’ve worked with for years, “Jerry,” has been recently getting consistently poor reviews from clients and event-goers alike. This has only been happening in the past few months, after many years of great work.

My glaring concern is that a number of us noticed this problem with another performer, “Steve,” a few years back. Steve has since passed away, and in retrospect it’s now easy to line up the decline of his work against the decline of his health (though, to be fair, he had well-known pre-existing issues).

I have a friendly rapport with Jerry, and among the feedback I’ve received have been some critiques about specific elements of his performances, and I’ve shared those with him (overly general critiques, on the other hand, aren’t so much worth sharing, as it often crosses the line from “criticism” to “personal preference”). However, there really is no tactful way I can think of to express “People have been complaining about you, and now I’m worried you might be dying.”

I brought this up with a colleague in the industry, who has received similar feedback regarding Jerry and assured me I’m over-thinking this whole thing – and I agree – but if something were to happen, I’d feel guilty about it indefinitely. But I’m sure there are many others like Jerry (none who I know personally but I’m sure they’re out there), who are simply aging out of the tastes of today’s consumer – and I don’t want to cause him undue distress for my own selfish peace of mind, either. What is the right thing to do here?

There are so many possible reasons why someone’s performance might decline — and imminent death is one of the least common. Other, more common reasons include burn-out, distraction by something outside of work (which could be good, like a new relationship, or bad, like a family crisis), intentionally or unintentionally de-prioritizing work in favor of other things, boredom, not keeping up with industry trends, exhaustion, and lots and lots of other things. And yes, sometimes it’s linked to a health issue — but even then, there are lots of health issues that can cause performance problems without being terminal.

The best thing you can do for Jerry is to be frank about the feedback you’re hearing and the fact that it’s become a pattern, and say something like, “This is a change, so it worries me — out of concern for you as much as anything else. Is everything okay with you?” And certainly if you see specific symptoms that seem like they might have a medical cause, like sudden, chronic forgetfulness or confusion, you could say, “Hey, this kind of thing could be medical and might be worth getting checked out.” But beyond that, there are just too many possible explanations for what you’re seeing, and it’s too difficult to know from the outside what might be going on.

{ 373 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    For #1, if yours is the kind of internship program that works directly with one or more schools, you could mention to your school contact that most applicants aren’t sending in the requested portfolios and that hurts them. Perhaps the school could then incorporate information in their courses about how to make a portfolio and use it in an application, or have an information session for students applying for internships where they teach them things like this.

    1. Artemesia*

      This was my first thought. I have a hard time imagining a design program that doesn’t have students build portfolios as part of their major. They ought to have a digital portfolio on line or at least a file they can send on requests like this. It is pretty fundamental to design training. It is unlikely that people who don’t have portfolios at this stage will be among your strongest internshp candidates and definitely an intern that wants to mansplain how out of touch you are will not be a strong candidate.

      1. I'm in the Wrong Story*

        Exactly. My husband teaches in the graphic design department of a community college. The last course is just called “Portfolio.” It’s a whole semester of getting them ready to apply for this exact kind of internship/job!

        1. whingedrinking*

          I’m finishing up a master’s degree in education and our last class is literally all about publishing, on the grounds that one of the first things you’ll be asked in an academic career is “what have you published” (and your thesis doesn’t count).

        2. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

          Yeah, so what I am thinking is that the internship is hitting them before the portfolio class?

          We hire a lot of newly minted design grads and everybody has a portfolio because of portfolio class. Now, many of the things are made specifically for the class , which brings its own issues, but they have portfolios.

          If you get interns who are still in school and before that class, I don’t think it is weird they don’t have a portfolio. Arrogant guy is clueless to that being a norm for a designer because maybe this was his first real opportunity ever? IDK.

          1. Amylou*

            But if the job ad asks for a portfolio, wouldn’t you look up what a portfolio is and throw something together real quick based on previous class projects or some practice stuff you’d done in your spare time? How can you be in design school and not know about portfolios? Sure, a class to create the perfect application-ready portfolio will be handy and I wouldn’t expect a perfect portfolio from someone in school/applying for an internship but you would already have something to show your potential. I just can’t imagine you wouldn’t have anything to show at all…

            1. On Fire*

              +1. I did design work in *high school,* 20+ years ago, and could have produced a portfolio any time it was needed after that. Even if it meant creating a few projects just for portfolio purposes, rather than for an assignment/grade.

            2. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

              My experience is that most of the just out of college design candidates we interview have portfolios made up of things produced in portfolio class for portfolios. And it takes them a semester to produce it.

              A portfolio isn’t “here is a sketch made of my cat and look here is my mom”. IDEALLY it is supposed to be work that you have done for people, so if you are a real go getter, you volunteered to make a logo and collateral material for a small charity when you were 19 but I pretty much never run into those folks – and one job for one org does not a portfolio make.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Sure, but I’d put that to the difference expected in resumes over time. If you’re 16 or 19, applying for a programming or chemistry internship, you put those classes and perhaps your grades in the resume, because it’s the relevant training you can point to. If you’re 27, with a degree in those topics and 2 past jobs in the field, your high school chem grade doesn’t go on the resume. Similarly, you should be able to point to something to illustrate your skill in design for a design position–if not your past professional work, then other work.

              2. Observer*

                What an IDEAL portfolio looks like and one that gets handed in while you are still in school is going to be different. But it’s still a portfolio. If the student is ready for an internship, they should have done SOME pieces, even if for a class project, that can go into the portfolio. Will it be as useful as the work done by someone who has spent a semester doing a Portfolio class? No. But it’s still a starting point.

                1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

                  I think this is a good point – but also one that students (particularly “pre-portfolio class” ones) might not understand the nuance of…

                  Maybe the OP could add some language to the internship posting mentioning that past class work or an “informal portfolio” are acceptable submissions.

                2. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

                  Sure, but still 75% of the OP’s applicants don’t submit one.

                  I can go on way too long about what I think are systemic fails in 4 year design education degree programs. I would think that the students would be producing portfolio work along the way but what I find is that the majority of portfolios from new grads contain almost all work produced in portfolio class. (I ask about the origin of pieces as we are looking through)

                  There is should and then there is what is happening.

                3. Observer*

                  There is no reason to believe that any student that is up for an internship can’t put together a portfolio, though. The fact that lots of students are not submitting them doesn’t mean that they don’t have the wherewithal. In the case of this particular student this is CERTAINLY not the case – the rudeness and arrogance of the response makes that clear.

                4. I'm in the Wrong Story*

                  I’m out of nesting, but in reply to Wakeen Teaptots, LTD:

                  In my husband’s program, the “Portfolio” class is just for polishing up projects they’ve already done for other classes or freelance, then getting feedback from the instructors (who are industry pros). This is at a community college – often there’s more focus on actual job training than students might get in a four-year program.

          2. Philly Redhead*

            “Yeah, so what I am thinking is that the internship is hitting them before the portfolio class?” — in a good program, it shouldn’t matter. Instructors in my design program were talking to students about portfolios from the intro 101 course, and telling students to keep the portfolio in mind when doing any design work, be it for school or for hire.

            1. Antilles*

              And frankly, *even if* the internship hit before the portfolio class, that still doesn’t fix the attitude. If he’d explained “I’m sorry, I’m only a soph and we haven’t really set up our portfolio yet, that’s something we generally do in Year 3″…well, he probably still wouldn’t have gotten the job but odds are OP would have at least responded with some suggestions of things he could send for future applications.

              1. SimontheGreyWarden*

                Also, the student could have spoken with an instructor if they didn’t understand the whole portfolio deal.

            2. Sam.*

              Yeah, I used to work in an academic program that produced a number of prospective design professionals, and even though it wasn’t a design program, per se, the importance of a portfolio was stressed to these students well before they hit the capstone stage of their degree. Did they all listen? No, of course not. Not following directions is just par for the course when you’re working with undergrads (and, indeed, job candidates in general, as Alison points out.)

            3. HumbleOnion*

              Agreed. And in 2018, there are plenty of websites that let you build an online portfolio. There’s really no excuse.

          3. OP #1*

            Thanks for the insight! We do hire interns who are generally in their third or fourth year of school – in fact, our headquarters (not where I work) specifically requests our intern candidates still be students in the name of nurturing them into full time roles post-graduation.

            This might’ve been his first opportunity ever – which makes some of the commenters suggesting I am more specific and clear when I’m personally recruiting as well as in the job posting what is required for this position. I’d also hazard a guess that because our company isn’t in an industry generally thought of as ‘creative’, there might be a misconception about the work we do.

            1. Genny*

              I’d be curious enough to pull about a year of recent applications and see if the people not including portfolios are any more likely to be freshman/sophomores than the applications of those including portfolios. I don’t really know what I’d do with that information, but I’d want to see if my hypothesis held up.

              The place I work requires interns to be at least juniors (by credit hours), but we still get a lot of sophomore applicants, some of whom are truly sophomores and some who just don’t meet our credit hour requirement. It costs them nothing to apply, so I can understand why they do.

            2. designbot*

              In that case maybe be really specific about the portfolio requirements, say a pdf of 10 pages or fewer and mention that work produced either in courses, previous internships, or for clients/organizations is accepted.
              I still think this guy is full of it, but that’s more addressing the idea that you’re getting so many candidates that don’t understand. For this guy specifically, he not only screwed up but he doubled down on his screwup by trying to tell *you* about *your industry.* Don’t give him the power of letting him gaslight you like that! You are absolutely in the right here, and he is a naive child that is trying to bluster his way through life.

            3. Chatterby*

              My thoughts are that the word “Portfolio” is really intimidating, and these are intern positions.
              When I hear portfolio, I think of a giant, thick file, with all of the best of my best professional work, collected carefully over the years and meant to be very impressive and expansively varied.
              Interns, recent grads, and students really don’t have anything like that. They’d have no idea what to send if you asked for one.
              They might have an example or two of things they’re proud of, but might shy at sending it to a position requesting a “portfolio” since in their head, it isn’t one.
              If they’ve been through the portfolio class, they’ll probably dump the entire thing on you, instead of curating it to what you want or need to see.
              You may have more luck getting applicants to send in *something* if you nix “portfolio” and instead say exactly how many of what types of files you want to see, such as “Please send 3 examples of your writing, such as articles, fliers/handouts, original copy, or persuasive essays, each under 2 pages” or “Attach a minimum of 2, maximum of 5 work samples showing web design, coding, and/or macro writing skills.”
              I once hired a student technical writer assistant and had included the instructions “Attach the power point presentation you think is the prettiest/best of all the ones you’ve made” and every applicant sent one, without exception.

              1. designbot*

                But it’s a design position, and OP is using ‘portfolio’ in exactly the way the industry uses it. It sounds like you’re coming at this from the writing world, where it might be used differently.

          4. Genny*

            If that’s the case, these interns are likely freshman/sophomore interns, which also indicates they might not be the strongest applicants to begin with. A junior/senior should have enough work that they can throw together even without a portfolio class.

          5. TootsNYC*

            Yeah, the timing of a last-year class on portfolios strikes me as less effective. I’d personally put it in semester 2 or something, so they can start applying those tactics and principles as early as possible. What kinds of work might they produce and save if they were starting with an eye on their portfolio earlier?

            And how much effort might be saved if they were organizing each item for their portfolio WHEN THEY DO IT instead of a semester or three later?

            1. designbot*

              that’s what my undergrad did—the university had a requirement that every class must have a final exam or term paper that was submitted in finals week. Somehow our studio projects didn’t meet the requirements to count for this, so they made us create a portfolio every single semester detailing that semester’s project(s) and submit that as our ‘final paper.’ All any of us had to do for this sort of thing was grab the best pages from those and throw them together.

            2. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

              Don’t get me started.

              The nature of the design jobs at Wakeens (we have around 20 full time artists) means we aren’t seeing top tier applicants. We get middle to lower middle. As a parent who just paid out of pocket for a college degree $$$$$$$, I am made crazy by how unprepared for an actual design interview and design job many of these applicants are.

              I’ve been hiring artists for 30 years and I’d say it has gotten marginally, but only marginally, better in the last 10.

              1. ArtsNerd*

                I’m picturing Wakeen’s artists hand painting teapots right now, like floral designs. But they’re all just a little bit wonky.

            3. smoke tree*

              I don’t know anyone who’s done a visual arts degree, but my experience at least in the Canadian system is that universities almost seem to pride themselves on not providing practical work training. In the computer science program, they expect you to teach yourself how to code in your spare time. In the creative writing program, there isn’t even a single class about how to find work as a writer, how to get a literary agent, nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had the same attitude toward visual arts.

            4. ArtsNerd*

              To be fair, “I need to update my portfolio” is basically the catchphrase of all professional designers, and yet we never seem to get around to actually doing it. So the delay part is pretty accurate for real life.

          6. Helena*

            But how did he even get into design school without a portfolio? You’re expected to submit one with your art school undergrad application, at least in the UK…

            Obviously you’d update it/put together an entirely new one before you apply for graduate jobs, but having a portfolio is not some crazy high-level ninja skill, since schoolkids seem to manage it.

            1. Agent Diane*

              I was thinking that too: I started my first portfolio when I was 16, having been tapped on the shoulder in class and told “you should build a portfolio as you’ve a shot at art college” after the first term.

              I got in, only to ditch practical art but that’s a whole other story.

        3. Jenn*

          Yep! Same experience as “I’m in the Wrong Story” – I work where I attended college 20 years ago. Every Communications major has to produce a portfolio of their work and have it reviewed before graduation. It was like this 20 years ago and it is like this today. I was a journalism major and had a nice hard copy portfolio of my work (it was 1998) and today the student workers I have usually create free web pages (like Wix or something like that) and have all of their writing, design and photography online.

        4. starsaphire*

          This, this, this. It’s only been a couple of years since I escaped academia, but the art school I worked for had this exact class as a completion requirement for all the different majors.

          It was called “Creating Your Portfolio.” It was a required course, and it was literally all about the different types of portfolio, and the homework for each week consisted of the different steps to portfolio building.

          It was a pretty big school, and this was a super normal thing in *all* of the departments, not just design but also fashion, photography, fine arts, etc.

      2. Anna Held*

        Yep. They’re making your job a lot easier by not making you wade through all those applications. Definitely check everywhere your job listing is posted, though, to make sure the line about portfolio required wasn’t stripped.

        1. OP #1*

          I didn’t even think of the job listing being stripped/covered. I’ll have to cross check on the university job boards and the like.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I used to work in a design school, and having the students maintain a portfolio was absolutely part of the education. There have been ebbs and flows in how strongly that education was enforced, and the faculty started integrating it into the curriculum more after feedback from firms at the design career fair indicated that our students were under-prepared compared to their peers at other design schools in the region. But for an intern to come out of a design program not expecting a portfolio to be part of the job is just beyond the pale.

    2. Delta Delta*

      This is a really good point. It also makes me wonder if the school’s career services/internship placement is somehow suggesting that portfolio submission is no longer “with the times.” Wouldn’t be the first time bizarre advice like that would be given.

      1. Artemesia*

        This maybe. There is no way I would want to hire a designer who couldn’t show me something they had designed. If I were a student who didn’t have a completed portfolio, I would still have a few assignments I could submit. Why would anyone hire anyone for a design internship without seeing some of their work? I can’t believe the OP is questioning themselves rather than feeling like they dodged a bullet with this rude and clueless git.

        1. OP #1*

          Ha, I guess I was just concerned with managing my own expectations – especially since some universities and schools seem to give uh, dodgy advice. I was taken aback with the response I got, especially since to me, it sounded like they wanted me to commit to an interview before bringing in a portfolio.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Yeah… all of the above could be reasons, including a conversation applicant had with a professor “hey, I need to put together a portfolio…” “No you don’t, that’s old hat.” “But this job ad…” “… is talking nonsense. Just apply.”

            And if they had said “I’m confused… prof said I shouldn’t include one as it would make me look out of touch?” then it could have been a kindness to set them straight, and look favourably on the application a couple of days later with a portfolio if possible.

            But his rudeness and dismissal… and trying to teach you what you want for your intern in your industry… he’s out.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        The general university career services department when I worked in the design school knew nothing about job hunting in the design professions, and they would give terrible advice that was geared more toward general job hunting. The design school finally had to hire career counselor with specific design experience and handle career counseling internally.

        1. OP #1*


          I’ve heard stories from others about how the general career counselors didn’t give good advice to design majors looking for work – in fact, they probably gave out bad advice. I’m wondering if this is what’s happening here as well!

    3. Another Kate*

      It makes me wonder how many people applying are actually design students. Students in a design program should absolutely have a portfolio and expect to submit one when applying for any design position. It makes me think that a lot of people applying are thinking “I want to be a UX designer, and maybe I can get my foot in the door this way” (this seems to be a current employment trend).

      1. henrietta*

        See, I expected the lack of physical portfolio to lead to ‘here’s my personal website with all my stuff on digitally’, not ‘I don’t need no stinking portfolio’, so that’s my expectations upended today.

      2. OP #1*

        That’s what I’m thinking too – as well as the fact that several local universities we recruit from group up design with their communications and journalism majors.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yeah, but journalism majors would be able to produce some sort of portfolio (we call them “clippings” sometimes)!

    4. OP #1*

      Thanks – that’s good advice! I’m a visual designer from a design school, so I was concerned that I had somehow completely missed the memo on hiring etiquette. Our internship program is still growing, so I’m still finding my footing in establishing contacts at universities.

      I guess I had (wrongly) assumed that everyone had the same background as I did. I think another thing that, in hindsight, I should’ve seen coming is that a lot of our local universities group design disciplines with the communications and journalism schools, so quite a few candidates really don’t make portfolios until they graduate. Whenever I speak with them, I do emphasize the importance of a portfolio, even in an environment that isn’t the hot new tech start up.

      1. Trig*

        A possibly cheritable way to think about it:

        You’re probably aware that there’s a lot of conversation going on online about companies that ask for spec work for free, often framing it as a ‘contest’ or ‘for exposure’, and a lot of artists are super annoyed by this. These companies should just hire a designer and pay them rather than having a bunch of people do the work for free and only (maybe) paying the one they like. Ties in with the whole ‘work for exposure’ thing too.

        So, with that context, maaaaaybe this applicant got his wires crossed and thinks that asking for the portfolio is the same as asking for spec work? Which it’s not! It’s probably just a confused applicant. But might be worth looking at the wording of your job listing to make sure the portfolio requirement isn’t coming across as “design us a thing!” I doubt that’s the case, but who knows.

        1. OP #1*

          Thanks!! Lots of other commenters here suggest looking at not only the language in the job listing and editing it as needed, but looking at where exactly it’s being placed and how it’s presented. I think I’ll need to revisit the job listing and make sure it reads as a ‘portfolio required’ and not, ‘design us things for free!’.

      2. Specialk9*

        Yes, but I mean, I applied for a high school art scholarship and it said to have a portfolio with these specific elements. I looked up what a portfolio was, because I was 13, then created a portfolio with things I had already done, and did the other required items to spec. Then I applied (and got it!).

        If a middle school art dilettante can figure out “read the directions and follow them”, I’d expect university student adults to be able to do the same.

        And Mansplainy McArrogant may think he knows best, but he apparently isn’t just applying to jobs that meet his magical in-touch requirements. So this may be an important growth moment for him. But not your problem.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Agreed! He is Not Your Problem.

          The suggestions elsewhere to consider rephrasing “portfolio” to “work samples” or to otherwise be more specific about what you are looking for are a good idea. Even still, I was very specific and still got a fair number of applicants for a writing job I posted without any writing samples whatsoever, and others with entirely the wrong kind of writing.

    5. tink*

      When I was in school for a project driven major, advice on how to incorporate projects into a portfolio was a minor but important part of all classes at the 200 level or up. I can’t fathom being in design and not having SOMETHING to show, even if it’s just work I did for classes.

      1. Bonky*

        A lot of the young designers straight out of college who apply to work with us submit portfolios of their classwork. That’s fine; it’s enough to give us a good sense of what the person’s skills and aesthetic are, but I’m always much more likely to take on the candidate who has clearly been producing work outside class, especially if they’re clearly doing so for the love of it or to expand their skill set.

    6. Bonky*

      It’s concerning, isn’t it! I also hire designers at all levels, and I’ve been disappointed in a similar way with the applications we see for junior roles. It doesn’t seem to matter how clearly we flag the need for a cover letter and portfolio in an ad: a proportion of applicants just don’t provide them. I view it as an easy filter: if you can’t follow instructions that simple when applying for a job, you likely won’t follow simple instructions if you’re employed either, so we don’t go any further with those candidates. (Likewise, we see a lot of applications for non-design roles which don’t include the requested cover letter. Those also don’t go any further.)

      Here in the UK it is a condition of receiving out-of-work benefits that you are seen by your caseworker to apply for a certain number of jobs every week. My strong suspicion is that a lot of the applications we see which are missing crucial elements are not serious, but have been made to fill that quota.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I read an article once by someone who was hiring writers to produce marketing copy. The application requested a writing sample. They got like 100 applications, 3 of which had writing samples. Then they decided, if they won’t accept applications without writing samples, then DON’T ACCEPT THEM. As in, gray out the “submit” button until they put something in the “writing sample” box. Then they got 12 applications, all of which had samples. Much better.

    7. SallyForth*

      I thought of that as well. I just attended my niece’s university graduation and it was heartening to see community mentors in her program not just valued, but honoured as part of the ceremony. Ideally, internship programs should be symbiotic. Rude applicants hurt that relationship.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, it’s legal, but it’s not ethical (and depending on your employer, may violate internal hiring policies & protocols). I agree w/ Alison’s guidance on everything else. Plus, it always helps to have a little distance. Sometimes the candidate that shines in the initial screening turns out to be wacky at later stages.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m not sure it’s legal. Back in the bad old days, favored male engineers would get interview help from a higher level mentor. This created a disadvantage to the incoming women, who were less likely to have a mentor, let alone a senior one. It became an EEOC issue.
      OP, if you want to help this person then feel free to give them advice after the interviews. If they are not the first choice then you will have helped them get a job – just at a different company.

      1. Observer*

        So? I’m not defending the practice you’re describing. But that has nothing to do with a decision to mentor a single specific candidate. If there turns out to be a pattern, or turns out that there is reason to believe that the preference is because of illegal bias that’s one thing. But the idea that mentoring has become illegal because in the past it wasn’t equally available is not fact based.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          I think mentoring a candidate can very easily fall in this category in most states and this is not a good idea. Once hired it’s a different story.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          A single instance could be problematic if any of the other candidates fall into protected categories. Many times people don’t even see their own biases which is why it’s important to give everyone the same opportunity.

          Mentoring has never become “illegal because of the past”. It’s a matter of timing and priming one candidate over another. The fact that the OP doesn’t know the candidate means that an unsuccessful candidate could claim illegal bias.

          As I stated in my original post, mentor away after the hiring decision has been made.

          1. anon4now*

            The OP#3 sees their biases. Hence why they’re questioning the ethics of it.
            Also…the candidate the OP wants to prime for the position is a woman in question, so even if the other candidates fall into a “protected” category or even more so (like a disabled POC) it doesn’t matter (law doesn’t say one protected class is more deserving over another (except in affirmative action cases?).
            However, of course, this is a morally ambiguous situation and I would caution the OP to consider if he actually has to asks if it’s the right thing to do, it probably isn’t. But, in this narrow instance, it’s not illegal.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              It’s creating an unequal situation. It also has the potential to mask issues and problems. It has the potential to make candidate look better than they are. That messes with the entire evaluation process.
              You want to see candidates warts and all so you can make realistic hiring decisions.

          2. Observer*

            Please. A single instance would have to be pretty egregious to cross the bounds of legality.

            I agree that the OP should not do this. But it serves no one to pretend that every questionable action is actually legal issue.

    2. Weekday Warrior*

      A little distance is good advice! It’s important to resist falling “in love” with a candidate at an early stage. Even if they don’t turn out to be wacky (and some sure do), it will keep you from properly evaluating everyone for the good of the employer – and the person being hired.

      1. Artemesia*

        And the candidate you fall in love with who presents poorly put together resume etc may be one of those charmers who will be sloppy on the job.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yeah, there’s a reason we judge people by the materials they send us when they’re applying for the job.

          I made a hire of someone whose credentials were a little thin, but whose resumé showed a clear and steely use of complicated clauses and punctuation.
          He was one of the best hires I ever made.

        2. bolistoli*

          I completely agree. I work in instructional design – good writing, organizational skills, and attention to detail (for real) is important. We used to have an internal recruiter who would coach applicants on their resumes and samples before sending them to us. When I found out I was shocked and more than a bit annoyed. I do not want to have to spend time reviewing someone’s work for basic skills they should have. She was surprised that I had a problem with this. Unvarnished application materials are critical.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Agreed for all of your reasons listed. Glad you corrected the recruiters screening practices; very smart.

  3. Ambarish*

    #2, to follow up on Alison’s last point, this is one of the things that IIUC Amazon does really well. Meetings that require reviewing a document, proposal etc. are 60 minutes long, with the first 10-15 blocked off for everyone in the room to (quietly) read through the document. The rest of the time is for discussion, Q&A, etc.

    1. Czhorat*

      Also, if you are calling the meeting have you created a formal agenda? Even a single page attached to the meeting invitation (longer than that and nobody will read it) gives everyone a chance to be ready without playing detective.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Eh I have mad many stellar small agendas sent out in advance that did squat for this. It’s why I usually don’t bother with agendas any more.

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          It really depends on organizational culture. Where I am currently, they live and die by their agendas. Previous job – only certain types of meetings.

      2. karou*

        I agree about trying more robust agendas and including your primer in the meeting invitation and see if that helps. I’m hardly a high-level manager, but I have been invited to plenty of meetings without any indication about what the meeting is about or directions about what I need to prepare. I’ve also been in meetings where it quickly becomes clear I didn’t have to attend, and I could have declined if there was context in the invite.

    2. Close Bracket*

      “with the first 10-15 blocked off for everyone in the room to (quietly) read through the document”

      Holy cats, it makes me nuts when people show up to meetings, either mine or anyone else’s, without having read the material. Sometimes that material isn’t available until shortly before the meeting, and sometimes that material was available the day before! I have had countless meetings where the purpose of the meeting was to read my input out loud to the people, rather than them having already read it so we can have a discussion about it. Then I spend the rest of the hour listening to people redo their input allowed when I have already read them.
      Upper management is definitely the worst about this.

      1. the gold digger*

        Yes, but sometimes, that’s the only time you can get with someone. I have scheduled many a meeting with directors just so they have time to read what I have sent them. They read, I sit, I wait. If I just send them materials and ask them to review them alone and email me comments or if I ask them to read materials in advance of a meeting, it’s just not going to happen. Drives me crazy, but that’s how things get done in my company.

        1. Lora*

          Yeah…this is how it is more and more often I think. The only time senior management will have to read your report / proposal / thingy is on a plane, in the airport, etc. and they’re really just going to skim the very top of the first page and call it good. This is the new normal. And yeah, it does impact their decision making, but they don’t actually care because they’ll bounce to the next gig by the time anyone realizes this was a crap decision. Only good solution I have, is to put an executive summary / abstract one short paragraph long with no big words at the top of the first page and assume hardly anyone will read more than that. Try to format as much as you can as graphics because they probably won’t read text. The Tufte books and training courses are helpful with this.

          My new grandboss is unique amongst senior managers in that she really does read in detail and get critiques back to you quickly before your work is permitted to go to the next level. The reactions both up and down the food chain are…interesting. She’s also been with the same company 25 years, so I think she is generally more invested in making things work correctly.

          1. the gold digger*

            I’m sure it depends on the situation, but I don’t need the people above me reading and critiquing in detail. I need them to agree to broad principles and approaches. They rely on me for the analysis and detail and wordsmithing.

            1. Lora*

              In this particular department, there are too many sub-groups involved and if not everything is 100% perfect per every sub-group, a whole project can be hosed. She likes to pick things apart to make sure the sub-group analyses are all kosher. Plus, this department’s job is to be the bearer of bad news, so she wants to make sure it’s *true* bad news that can’t be engineered around.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            Be careful not to make the graphics too distracting, or they won’t see the text at all.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              My boss gets more and more like this – he’s a workaholic who is so distracted, I’ve spent as much as 20 minutes getting him to focus and understand something *he* trained *me* to do… I don’t wear bright colors or sparkly jewelry, that would distract him even more… He took on another job in addition to his exec job a few years ago and there are times when he’s so distracted and stressed, I’m prepared for him to have a breakdown. I’m also prepared for him to get in trouble from the impact on his work.
              He’s not going to bounce to the next gig though. He’s been here all his life.

          3. Anonymoose*

            “Only good solution I have, is to put an executive summary / abstract one short paragraph long with no big words at the top of the first page and assume hardly anyone will read more than that.”

            100% YES. We now need to think in terms of blog posts, making our deliverables exceedingly easy to digest using context driven headers, small charts/calculations, and highlighting the major questions/areas that need their input. Nobody has time to read reports anymore, it’s just the way business is changing (for the better? I happen to loathe full reports and I write them for a living).

        2. TootsNYC*

          that may also be the only time the top exec can carve out on HER schedule. Once everyone knows that this is what’s happening, then everybody is managing their time this way.

          My personal problem with that would be that it doesn’t allow any “percoating” time. No time to mull things over, to have some other situation impact your thinking, no time to research a legal or insurance point.

          We do something similar in our co-op–the president and her buddy come up with a scheme and propose it at a meeting, and then we all vote on it immediately. That’s how we ended up renting 2 sets of laundry machines for $18,800 for 10 years (machines that we could have purchased for $6,000 + incidental repairs, which surely wouldn’t have totaled $12,800).

          1. Anonymoose*

            I agree about percolating being necessary for good decision making – especially for larger projects that demand senior input throughout. But maybe they can follow up with a quick conference call to hammer out any questions/areas of concern?

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      That sounds absolutely terrible. If we’re reviewing a document, I want well-formed opinions and broad understanding. Not just initial reactions.

      Furthermore, people read at very different paces. My colleagues for whom English is a second or even fifth language need additional time and the luxury to look up words and phrases to fully understand a complex document and contribute meaningfully.

      1. Nonsensical*

        The thing is a senior manager doesn’t need to read all the details. They need it broken down into top level information they can quickly digest. Senior management should not be getting involved in minute details unless something is very wrong. It actually means they trust you to carry on. You may need their input on a direction or which method to resolve the problem, but again it should be kept to high level.

    4. JustaTech*

      This sounds like someone read Edward Tufte and took him to heart.

      Tufte wrote books like “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” and is a huge proponent of “write a memo, have everyone read it and then talk about it”. He also hates PowerPoint and says PP caused the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Good author, great lecturer, maybe has some good points. (As a scientist who needs to show charts and graphs I still need PP, but I can totally see how it’s overused.)

  4. LouiseM*

    #5, this sounds like such an *enormous* leap that I’m wondering where your thinking could be coming from. Based on how you wrote your post, you don’t sound like a gossip or a drama llama. So I’m wondering if it’s possible that Steve’s death affected you more than you might realize. This might be worth exploring, whether in therapy or just in conversation with someone close to you.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      OP can you imagine this from his perspective?

      “Hey boss, how am I doing this year?”
      “Well Jerry, frankly your numbers have gone down, so I’m worried you might be dying.”

      Does this seem like a logical leap to you? Because I can definitely see “I’m struggling at work and my boss asked if it was because I was dying” as a letter addressed to Alison.

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      I mean, I wouldn’t jump to therapy (unless LW5 already has a therapist, in which case – definitely talk to them), but…you’re not wrong. LW5, for their own reasons, immediately went from “Jerry’s doing worse at his job” to “JERRY IS DYING” with…not that much in-between. Usually, if you have a terminal illness, there are at least some other tells aside from your performance slipping (I’m not a doctor, but that’s my understanding).

      This might actually be something to talk out with someone who understands the situation – or understands you! LW5, definitely talk over your feelings with someone.

      1. Nonsensical*

        It is a pretty huge leap to jump from someone is not performing as well to dying. It really does sound like therapy would help here. There is something more going on.

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          My objection is really that LW5 needs professional help because they aren’t handling Steve’s death well. It could point to other issues, and it could be major enough to impact their daily functions. But it wouldn’t be my primary step unless that’s true, and from the letter I don’t think that’s the case.

          To give Louise credit, she did also suggest talking it over with a friend, and I’m in FULL agreement that LW5 needs to talk about it IRL with someone who isn’t LW5 (or…y’know, AAM). I’m saying that if they don’t have a therapist already, they don’t need to run out and get one just yet.

          1. Clinical Social Worker*

            Hi, Therapist here! It sounds like you’re reacting to the stigma of therapy, like something has to be REALLY WRONG with someone or their life for someone to seek help. That’s not true. Therapy is for everyone, if they are struggling a lot or “just a few things.” It is not out of bounds here to recommend talking to a therapist about grief issues. Source: a therapist.

          2. Clinical Social Worker*

            I forgot to say because I cannot edit: People do not, and should not, wait until something affects their ability to function to seek help. If something is bothering you*, especially for awhile now, go talk to someone. We’re happy to help.

            * of course, access isn’t always the greatest, especially in the states. But there are ways for folks to get care, like federally qualified health facilities, student clinics (especially for short-term treatment these are great), Open Path Collective etc that can help folks find treatment they otherwise wouldn’t.

            1. ArtsNerd*

              I wish I started therapy a good decade before I did. Suggesting someone talk something over with a therapist isn’t saying that they don’t have their sh*t together or that they’re broken. It’s simply an acknowledgement that lots of emotional and other stuff in our life has a tendency to slip out sideways, even if we don’t realize it, and not everyone’s friends are able to help process it in an effective way. (Or *all of it* in an effective way. I have great friends but I was burning them out when I had some difficult stuff going on with work and family.)

            2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

              Hey, I have a therapist myself! So I totally appreciate what your profession can do! (For the record, I really like my therapist and I want to keep her.)

              But also…there are costs to most therapists, as you’ve acknowledged. I’ve seen in the comments that some people just don’t like having a therapist. I think that it’s fair to say, “Hey, maybe the issue you have might not require this potentially expensive thing.”

              I’ll grant that – yeah – I read the original response as suggesting the letter writer as having a Serious Issue, and that’s why I responded the way I did. But also, to be honest most people do suggest therapy when someone is having a Serious Issue. (And this is perfectly acceptable!)

      2. Someone else*

        I thought the jump wasn’t “performing poorly=dying” but rather “performing poorly in specific ways they didn’t bother to elaborate on here but which mimicked closely the last guy who did die”. It’s hard to say because OP didn’t say anything about the nature of the decline in performance, but if there truly is something very similar in what’s happening with this person, that reminds them of the last person in specific ways, then the concern may not be so much of a jump. Or it could be projection. It’s impossible to tell.

        1. boo bot*

          I (perhaps making an enormous leap of my own) assumed that the signs of poor performance Jerry is displaying were obvious signs of severe drug abuse or something like that.

          It was the only example that came to mind where you might actually be able to guess what was going on based on someone’s behavior and appearance, and where “I am afraid you’re going to die” is a logical thing to worry about. In which case, OP, I think you may as well bring it up in the manner Alison suggested and see how he reacts, and you can move on to the “I’m worried you might die” aspect depending on how that goes.

          1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

            Oddly enough, I thought of multiple things BEFORE drug use! For whatever reason, Jerry read as older to me, so I assumed a chronic disease/cognitive decline first.

            But we’re lacking a lot of information here. Even if LW5 suspects a drug use problem (which makes their reaction somewhat more logical – people do make huge efforts to hide drug use), that doesn’t mean that’s what is going on. And suggesting that can be VERY offensive to the person that’s accused.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      My first thought was, well, I must be dying too, then.. Just kidding. . .

      Honestly, we did see something similar in a coworker who appeared to have an illness. He was formerly a VP at my company, left to run a regional office of a competitor, then came back in a senior consultant type role. He ended up getting let go. I had to take over a project that was 100% over budget, so his performance definitely was suffering. Physically, he seemed to be having a hard time getting around and communicating, but I suspected something more degenerative rather than immediately terminal.

      Now, I’ve also had some coworkers who passed away from other illnesses, and they were performing well until they couldn’t work anymore. That makes me sad to think about. One man was only in his mid-60s and had heart failure, and had to work up until he passed. I wish he could have spent that time with his family instead of working on my inconsequential projects.

    4. It happens*

      I initially also thought it was an odd leap – but if the symptoms are similar, I wonder if OP could gently ask about the worker’s health in a way that respects their privacy.

      I had a coworker pass away after unexplained poor performance- unfortunately the symptoms (confusion, exhaustion, lack of appetite) didn’t manifest until it was too late for treatment.

    5. Someone On-Line*

      My mind jumped to HIV/AIDS. Perhaps that was how Steve died and now she is worried Jerry has it, too. But that would be his own health information and none of OP’s business. She can only address the performance unless he asks for accommodations.

    6. Nita*

      It sounds like there is some info getting left out of the letter. What do “critiques about specific elements of his performances” mean here? OP doesn’t really say – if it’s something like putting on tap-dancing numbers when the audience hasn’t been into tap-dancing for a few decades, that’s one thing. If it’s something like tripping on stage and slurring words, that’s another thing that really could mean health issues. Not necessarily fatal health issues, but I can see where OP’s worry is coming from in that case. If OP is thinking of something like cognitive decline, they may well be worried that Jerry is coming down with something they’re not aware of…

  5. LouiseM*

    OP#1, if you’re not exaggerating and 75% of your applicants truly did not link to a portfolio in any way, the language in the posting may not have been as clear as you think it is. Did it seem like people wrote cover letters tailored to the position, and then sent them in with no portfolio? If so, the ad might need tweaking. What the applicant said to you is another (rude) matter, though.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah; part of me wonders if applicants think they have to send a hard-copy portfolio? It sounds like additional verbiage may be helpful (although I suspect there would still be a bunch of applicants who fail to follow those instructions).

      The applicant was dead wrong and pretty rude/presumptuous, though.

      1. Artemesia*

        This seems plausible; they are envisioning a giant folder (portfolio carrier) of hard copies of their work. But then such a person is unusual clueless. But if most people are not including a portfolio it does suggest carefully reviewing the ad to see if it could be clearer. e.g. link to an online portfolio or pdfs of design work must be submitted with the application. It seems odd that 75% of the people would fail on this if it is very clear in the ad.

      2. Yvette*

        While the applicant’s comment was totally rude and uncalled for, if the ad read as though a hard copy portfolio was required that is where the “out of touch” comment may have come from.

    2. sacados*

      Agreed. That applicant was unequivocally out of line.
      But given these are interns, and the OP is noticing a pattern, it might be a good idea to make sure the job posting includes something along the lines of
      Portfolio (Required)
      Note: applications without a portfolio will not be considered

      Or something on those lines.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      It might help to have the word REQUIRED (yes, in all caps) next to the request for a digital portfolio.
      “Please provide a link to your REQUIRED digital portfolio along with your application package. PDF copies of your work may be substituted in lieu of a link.”

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I would be even more clear, and have a line that says “applications without portfolio will automatically be rejected”. Probably in bolded capitals. If they’re submitting via a website, making it so they have to include a PDF or link to submit would help.

        Once you’ve done that, it might be worth considering it a useful way of weeding out less competitive candidates. If they’re not submitting a portfolio, and the instructions are clear, they are either not reading or paying attention to the instructions, or (like the guy in the OP) they consider themselves above following the instructions, or they don’t have a portfolio and aren’t able to quickly create one, but decided to submit anyways.

        Personally, I’d be curious whether that 75% of applications is significantly different than the 25% that do include a portfolio, in terms of the rest of the qualifications.

        1. JamieS*

          Maybe this is ungenerous but so long as OP isn’t hurting for applicants and the job posting already says to include a portfolio my opinion is they should already consider not following instructions a useful tool for weeding out applications and leave it as is. No sense putting in extra work to attract a predominantly lower level of applicants.

          1. Anna*

            I think that would mke sense if hiring for employees rather than interns. But with interns, teaching them professional norms is part of the package, so a little more detail and support can be valuable.

            1. Alton*

              Agreed. With internships, you can expect that the applicants are still learning professional norms and may be new to the field. Learning is a big point of internships. There’s no harm in making sure it’s clear.

            2. JamieS*

              If the post doesn’t already say to include a portfolio that should be changed but if it does then it’s not an issue with not knowing professional norms but an issue with not following instructions which is something a person learns to do as a child generally in elementary school

              1. Elsajeni*

                I do think it’s worth making sure that the instructions are clear, though, especially for an internship where your applicants, by definition, are not going to be very familiar with the hiring process in your field. You know — yes, they should know to follow directions, but also, do they necessarily know that “portfolio required” means “electronic portfolio must be attached to your application” rather than “hard-copy portfolio must be brought with you if you’re invited to interview”? If there’s an online application form, is it obvious where you’re supposed to upload or attach your portfolio files, or is there just one upload utility that says “upload resume here”? And so on.

          2. Kate*

            And I would assume that some, possibly quite high, proportion of applicants (depending on where OP is advertising the job) aren’t actually design students and are just throwing their CV at any internship, so don’t have any work to portfole anyway

            1. Uranus wars*

              This was where I was going, too. We used to hire interns and I’d venture to guess that half did not actually work in the field/area we were hiring in. Many interns apply to anything and everything.

          3. Cacwgrl*

            Exactly!!!! If an applicant can’t follow simple directions, like including an unofficial transcript with your resume submission, I don’t want them as an intern. We are very specific, but don’t bother with caps or bolding anything in the posting. We list what the requirements are (GPA, being an enrolled students in specific education fields, etc) and anyone that doesn’t meet that doesn’t qualify, period.
            I also had an applicant question the practice of submitting transcripts and they said it shouldn’t be required to apply. Well yes it does because one, I need to make sure the education field is one we can support in the organization and two, I need to be able to weed out applicants like this and three, I want to see transcripts and I’m the hiring manager. I have something more like 90% who do follow directions, so I’ll be honest, I don’t feel bad at all.

            1. TootsNYC*

              yeah, even though interns are supposed to be learning, there are some basics I don’t want to have to teach them.

          4. Yorick*

            They may think they need to bring their portfolio to an interview, so spelling it out that they have to submit it with the application could help.

            1. OP #1*

              Thanks – I considered that a possibility as well. I think the general consensus I see now is that I should revisit the ad and make sure I am very clear and specific on what we’re looking looking for from our applicants.

              1. Yvette*

                I am not in a creative field, so hopefully this is not a dumb question, but if people post links to their work, how do you know it is their work? I can set up a website and take a picture of anything and post them. Are candidates also required to bring a physical sample to the interview?

                1. OP #1*

                  I can’t answer for other professionals (as well as those who are involved in larger hiring decisions), but I can tell you what I know from hiring interns. I go in with the assumption that the applicant is truthful. When I bring them around for an interview, I normally ask about process and want them to walk me through their design decisions and concepts.

                  For interns who are ‘faking’ it, I find this is where they often can’t hold up – having a worthwhile conversation about their work. For some of my interviews, applicants were given a ‘design test’ of sorts to prove my ability. I’m not saying this a great hiring practice – there’s a lot to design that can’t be replicated in an hour or so, but those are some ways off the top of my head I’ve encountered to prove validity.

                2. AnonGD*

                  Yvette– I’m also a designer with design interns. When it comes to intern portfolios– you kind of just… know. Especially if you’re familiar with the curriculums of local programs– you see the same types of assignments and most students make a certain type of visible progress year over year. We actually rejected a candidate once because his portfolio was suspiciously good in a really odd way. He was very good at designing one specific type of thing, I kind of believed him based on our pointed interview questions, but ultimately he likely would not have thrived because we design a wide variety of things.

                  But as OP said, interview questions are really where it comes to light whether someone is exaggerating their abilities or not. I’ve never encountered someone that I knew to have faked a portfolio– but it’s super common for students to VASTLY overstate their abilities. If there are other designers that have this issue– I’ve learned to throw in clarifying questions like, “oh, you’ve used InDesign, can you tell me about the last helpful trick you learned?” are very illuminating. There’s a big difference between “I made a flyer” and “my instructor just taught us the importance of placing links instead of copying and pasting”

    4. MillersSpring*

      Try making the instructions in the ad really specific, such as, “You also must upload three to five PDFs or JPGs of your design samples. Class projects and spec work are OK! Resumes without design samples will not be considered.”

      1. OP #1*

        Thanks for this – I’ll add in language specifying that class projects and spec work are alright, as well as be more clear on the formats accepted. I think it’ll help future applicants to know exactly what our expectations are!

      2. FD*

        I really like this language! On the flip side of the LW’s situation, I could also see a good candidate self-selecting out by thinking, “Well, I only have class projects to show so far, not a real portfolio of work I’ve done for paying clients, so I don’t qualify.”

    5. FD*

      I doubt they’re exaggerating. I wrote a job post that literally said, “You will be disqualified if you do not include a cover letter,” and at least 75% of people still didn’t include one. I think sometimes people are effectively spamming job posts without reading them.

    6. Kiwi*

      Earlier this year, I hunted for an expert in teapot engineering and my ad said 3yrs + of teapot experience. Teapots are pretty rare, and most applications came from people who’d never been near a teapot. They’d worked with coffee pots, or cooking pots, but not teapots. So I changed the ad to say emphatically that teapot expertise was required for this position.

      Instant change. No drop off in the number of unqualified applicants, but the cover letters started saying “I’ve never worked with teapots but here’s why I’d be great anyway.”

      After that, I’m not surprised about people ignoring ad requirements. I reckon a good chunk of those interns think “I haven’t got a portfolio and I haven’t got time to make one now but I’ll apply anyway.” Getting their school to help/force them to make one would be a kindness.

      1. KRM*

        I’ve had friends from grad school ask me if they should apply for our senior/principal scientist positions. If they paid attention to the job description, it’s a minimum of 5 years experience in drug discovery and related aspects for those positions. None of my ‘in their first post-doc’ friends have that experience, but they assumed that because they are out of grad school and in a post-doc that they COULDN’T POSSIBLY just be a scientist level, as they have been WORKING for 3 years!
        So yes, lots and lots of people self-delude and ignore posted job requirements.

      2. bonkerballs*

        It’s like people are twisting the advice that even if you don’t meet every requirement, apply anyway.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        I used to be an expert in painting tiny espresso cups, but that was almost 20 years ago. Recruiters would look at my resume and send it off to the massive coffee server companies. OK, yes, that’s what grew out of the espresso cup business, but it’s not what I did, and I don’t want to do servers anyway.

        (Always amused at our disguise of choice around here – the terms are not that far off what I really did. :) )

      4. Michaela Westen*

        Are they trying to meet a quota of applications? Does their school say, “you’re required to submit X number of applications for internships”?
        That would explain some of this…

    7. A Nickname for AAM*

      I also think that OP#1 should submit a “Test” application to the position, if they are using software to manage the intern applications. I’ve applied for a lot of jobs, and often I end up in these deep, involved software forms where it asks for a resume, but no cover letter, or the part where you could upload a cover letter says “Secondary Attachments, ex: certifications and awards,” and it’s easy to assume the cover letter part is on another page, but once you go forward you can’t go back without losing the work you’ve done in retyping your resume to fit in the form fields.

      It may be that your software form is confusing to people who are not used to applying to professional-level jobs online.

      I actually worked somewhere where, after imposing a universal applicant tracking format for all level jobs, we lost most of our part-time, entry level applicants (jobs held by 16-22 year olds.) It turned out, the form asked for things like college degree and work history right from the outset, and young people who were still in school and hadn’t had a job before assumed they weren’t qualified for the job and abandoned their application.

      1. OP #1*

        Ah – I’ll have to try this and checking that the language explicitly stating the portfolio requirement isn’t being cut off, as mentioned in the previous post. I didn’t even think our software that we’re using to manage the applications might be hindering us.

        Thanks for the advice!

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Especially as you mentioned that design type work isn’t the primary focus of your company. This is definitely worth looking into! Some of them can be pretty tricky about what file types they will allow.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        ^Agreed. I’ve submitted many an online intern application where it was asking for cover letter/transcripts/essay/etc and the upload screen never appeared. Or the screen appeared but there was no button, or the button didn’t work, etc, etc.

        Though generally with those I just emailed in and submitted that way, since the posting clearly called out for those materials…

    8. OP #1*

      Thanks! And yes, I’m truly not exaggerating – which is the struggle I’ve been having since noticing the pattern. As many other people have posted as well, I’m now going to go in and look at the job posting and make tweaks as needed. It seems as there might be a language problem.

      As far as your other question, most do not submit a cover letter either!

    9. Sleepy Librarian*

      I hire student employees and I’d say 75% of my applicants don’t follow instructions (and short of a flashing GIF with the instructions I don’t see how they can be clearer or more obvious). OP 1’s figure didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to me. The way I see it, though, I save myself a ton of time by not talking to those who don’t follow instructions and I get amazing employees from (most of) the ones who do.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Oh, OP#5, the odds of Jerry’s decline being attributable to death are pretty low! Definitely don’t suggest he’s ill or dying–it’s outsourcing your emotional labor to Jerry, which isn’t really fair. A general, “is everything ok?” gives him the chance to disclose whatever he may want to or to decline to say anything. It also lets him know his performance deficiencies are becoming more and more noticeable. If he is dealing with something, it lets him know he may not be managing as well as he thought he was.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Maybe Jerrys spouse is dying. Maybe he’s burned out. Maybe his kid is in trouble with the law. Maybe….

          1. Trillion*

            With the rise of self driving technology, someday country songs will talk about their truck leaving them, too.

    2. LouiseM*

      I hate to nitpick because I totally agree, but I don’t think what you’re describing is emotional labor at all! Just feelings. I’ve been working on not conflating the two recently. :)

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I probably wasn’t being super clear. Right now OP has feelings about what might be happening with Jerry, and that’s totally within OP’s house to address. But if OP asks Jerry if his performance is lagging because OP thinks Jerry is dying, that transfers a good chunk of OP’s emotions (and the labor/cost of dealing with those emotions) to Jerry to fix.

        1. eating falafel rn*

          actually emotional labor really relates to the way people (often in service industries) are forced to control their own emotions as a part of their job! like waitresses having to act friendly, cashiers pretending it isn’t upsetting to be yelled at, etc. LouiseM is right that it has been conflated with a lot of different things (a really common one is conflating it with domestic labor in relationships). it’s not just about the experiencing of emotions, it’s about having to control your emotions and pretend they aren’t there in the course of your day-to-day life. so i’m sure a public speaker actually would experience a lot of that (like Jerry may be having to pretend to be excited about his speech when he really isn’t) but i don’t think this would be a particular instance of it.

          1. fposte*

            I hadn’t heard your definition of emotional labor before; unfortunately, I think your battle to keep it to that meaning has been lost.

            1. Les G*

              This is, well, *the* definition and for folks invested in leftist politics the battle is 1. Not “ours” and 2. Not lost.

              1. fposte*

                It may be “the definition” within a particular group, but you’ll never make prescriptivism work entirely in language.

          2. Les G*

            Thanks for this. As a male feminist, people always comment on how much emotional labor I’m performing and I can’t help but cringe. Someone should make a “you keep using that word” meme.

            1. biobottt*

              Except if lots of people are using “emotional labor” that way, then it’s taken on a new meaning and they’re using it correctly.

          3. Gloucesterina*

            ooh Arlie Hochschild’s The Managed Heart? I haven’t read it but I’ve heard that another industry she explores is debt collection, where debt collectors are required to be extra mean. This reminds me to put it on my reading list!

          4. Specialk9*

            Yes ‘swallowing emotions and looking happy, in order to hold a job’ is in that bucket, but also is the ‘unpaid, usually female, work in a relationship to keep males happy, and to help them process their feelings’. It’s not just the one, and to ignore the latter is to ignore something huge and resonant for so many women.

          5. scorpysuit coryphefuss arterius*

            That’s certainly how Arlie Hochschild talks about it in The Managed Heart! But the term ’emotional labor’ also can and does refer to what Princess Consuela Banana Hammock is talking about – unpaid feelings work.

        2. Baby Fishmouth*

          Yeah, Jerry then has to worry now about reassuring OP that he isn’t dying, and that his performance is so bad that people assume he must be dying – which would be really stressful to try to deal with!

      2. Courageous cat*

        Agreed, I would hate to see the term lose its meaning over time when it’s so effective at describing things that are really actually emotional labor

    3. Bea*

      Totally agree.

      My performance suffered when my dad was ill and also when I hit an emotional wall after a 12 day work stretch, that lead to me throwing out my back to top it off with. Yeah I missed deadlines and dropped balls, I waa beyond burned out!

    4. Mookie*

      What’s weird about this is that the negative bits of feedback the LW is getting about Jerry aren’t just about performance but are reading to the LW’s trained eyes to be more about “personal preferences,” which she (astutely, in my opinion) connects to performers who are “simply aging out of the tastes of today’s consumer.” So she has to be very careful here not to equate, out loud, Growing Old in an Age-ist Industry with Literally Dying. Like, that is a cultural hang-up Jerry is (a) already well aware of and (b) not something he needs reminding of when you’re booking or passing on booking work. Don’t insinuate to Jerry’s that Jerry must be dying [is a dried-up old hag, is how this will read] because work is drying up for him, please, for the love all of that is unholy. LW, your last sentence makes it clear you get this, so follow your instincts here.

    5. Erin*

      My preformance at work did a little back sliding for a couple when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I was late a couple times, and I was exhausted sometimes too much to do my job. I had to tell my bosses earlier than I planned because I was running about 10 minutes every morning shift I worked for a couple weeks, maybe 3 or 4 times. It was better to wait it out for an extra minute at home than puke all over myself at work or in the car.

  7. Daria Grace*

    OP#4. I have the same situation. I take comfort in the fact that I couldn’t recall who else in my team has skin issues because I’m not paying attention and others probably aren’t either

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Good point! I was completely baffled a while ago when I casually mentioned something related to my Psoriasis and it turned out that in over two years of seeing me almost daily she’d never even noticed the Dandruff From Hell or the (in my mind) rather visible inflamation around my ear and temple.

      So, give yourself (and your skin) a break, OP. It’s fine.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, not skin, but I have bad teeth – buck teeth, bad overbite, discolored.

        And I have sinus problems so I breath with my mouth (and thus have my mouth open) a lot of the time.

        I was really surprised when I mentioned something about them to a coworker who had worked with me for like 2 years and he literally didn’t know what I was talking about.

        Turns out nobody pays as much attention to my mouth as I though.

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Same here. Though my days of bad acne seem to be over (I’m in my mid-30s now), I had regular bouts of cysts and dark spots all throughout my 20s (in addition to rosacea), and stopped wearing makeup when I realized it was only hurting my skin. No one seemed to care at all. In fact I got compliments sometimes on my “nice blush” job (thanks but it’s just the rosacea flaring up!).

      I did find that sometimes wearing very light eye makeup – like some eyeliner and just a highlighting color on my lid – helped brighten my eyes and fool people into thinking I had on more makeup than I actually did. However I didn’t do that often, usually just for a big meeting if I was feeling self conscious. Truly, no one seemed to care at all in both my higher ed jobs, including the one at the private school that was a lot more image-obsessed.

      1. whingedrinking*

        In a truly ridiculous fight I had with a roommate over whether women wearing makeup was “lying” (ugh), I showed him two separate photos of me and asked him in which one he thought I had more makeup on. One was a very goth-punk style and the other more toned down; he said obviously the former. It wasn’t – it was only dark, non-natural lipstick and eye makeup. When I told him the amount of effort and product that went into creating the “natural” look (it had actually been done professionally for an event), he refused to believe me.

    3. BadWolf*

      If I noticed, I would just think “Oh that looks painful and/or annoying” in a sympathetic way. Not, “Gee, you should slather makeup all over.” But I am biased because I work in a casual office with a lot of no-make up people (me included).

    4. lurker4ever*

      I had bad cystic acne in my twenties as well, and it was due to food allergies. I went to several dermatologists who were complete ineffective. It wouldn’t hurt to get a blood test at an allergist’s office to detect if you have food allergies (don’t bother with the prick test – it isn’t effective with food allergies since it is an internal reaction and not external). Once I cut out dairy and eggs from my diet my skin cleared up.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Another way to track food allergies is by keeping a food and symptom diary. Then you can look for patterns – for example, you ate a particular thing and got a flare two days later. Or one day, or an hour – I’m not sure how long it takes to affect acne!
        A blood test might help, but there are several types of allergies the establishment doesn’t test for, so tracking your diet and symptoms could help also. :)
        If neither of these things work, try an elimination diet under a doctor’s supervision. This will catch things you eat all the time that you might be allergic to.

    5. Lora*

      You all have my sympathies. The horrible cystic acne that first appeared when I was 11, despite the promises of numerous doctors, didn’t truly clear up until after menopause, though even now it still requires a stupid amount of exfoliating and sunblock. My mother, who is quite elderly, still gets pimples sometimes if she deviates from her usual skin care routine or uses a different brand of something. 70+ YEARS of acne. I’m convinced nobody actually knows a single blessed thing about the science of it, not really.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Lora, have you tried checking for food allergies as above? Or maybe airborne allergies?

    6. Videogame Lurker*

      As a fellow acne sufferer (who is -finally- seeing more face than acne in the mirror), go with what will bother your face the least. If someone does happen to comment on you not wearing makeup, feel free to say that you are giving your face a break because stressing over acne will only make it worse.

      That being said, as someone who has had acne since fourth grade and into my mid twenties now (still have it, but mire face than acne), (the NYT article Allison posted is right in that acne can be an is an awful cycle of depression-stress-acne,) but my old high school friends seemed to have not been paying as much attention to my face than I was.

      Except for my superficial ex-Friends who I parted from years ago, but they are ex-Friends for a reason and are likely to try and twist knives they think will stick.

      1. Videogame Lurker*

        Additional note – on my worst break out days, I pull out a little eyeliner, eyeshadow, and Kiplinger I use for lipstain, and people keep telling me how nice I look, so that helps.

        The only time an actual friend does seem to notice I’m breaking out is when a zit has exploded on me and is bleeding (yup, I’m one of those acne people) into a scab on my cheek. A short “Yeah, zit exploded this morning ” and everything is back to normal.

        Maybe not those words when at work, but it was likely meant more as a “Hey, your face is bleeding”.

  8. Anita*

    OP4, have you tried blemish dot products? I just started using them and they seem to help plus if I am lucky they do double-duty as a cover-up. Also, just in case you haven’t tried it I love the NARS creamy concealer.

  9. HannahS*

    OP4, if you don’t like wearing makeup to cover up your breakouts, then don’t, especially because it sounds like you’re in an office where no one will judge you negatively for it. I don’t want to discount that you might feel that your acne looks severe, but it’s worth remembering that most people are standing much further away from you that you are from yourself in a mirror, and that most people are looking at your face to try and read your facial expression, not assess your skin. A few days ago I ran into a peer with probably the worst case of acne I’ve seen in years–I don’t think there was more than a inch-wide area clear anywhere on her from hairline to chin–and while I noticed, all I thought to myself was, “Hey, Parvati’s here! Huh, she has really bad acne. That must be uncomfortable.” And then I briefly was grateful that I don’t have that, because pimples hurt. This lasted a grand total of one and a half seconds, and then I didn’t think of it or notice it again for the whole day. And while your coworkers may have clearer skin, it’s probably true that they deviate from the mass-media-defined-ideal woman in other ways. My skin is ok, but I’m overweight and balding (in my mid-20s! fun!), someone else has wrinkles, etc. etc. and just because other people can tell doesn’t mean they care, you know? You do what’s right for you.

    (Also, unless you’re in a very unusual office, the men present would never feel pressured to make their skin look flawless as part of looking “polished.” I know you probably know that, and probably also know that acne isn’t dirty, but I want to say it in case it helps to tell yourself that the pressure on women to reverse-engineer clear smooth skin as a component of professionalism is entirely nonsense and shouldn’t exist. If you feel more comfortable in makeup, I’m not here to tell you’re wrong and should stop. Just that the idea that you HAVE to wear it to look put together is bull.)

  10. Dan*


    The older I get, the more I conclude that email is a poor format for exchanging technical information of any depth. It takes me way too long to read and digest things that can be explained in a few minutes.

    BTW, if I want/need specific people to come to my meetings, I tell them exactly what I want from them. That serves two purposes: 1) tells them their input is needed and 2) allows them to decide how much prep they need to do on their own.

  11. RandomName*

    OP 1, There is significant debate in the (digital) design community about requiring a portfolio. Search Jared Spool and portfolio on twitter and you can see some epic threads!
    Though much of it discussing more experienced designers than intern level.
    Just thought it worth mentioning especially if you move to hiring more senior people. Requiring a portfolio introduces bias into the hiring process. You are self selecting for people who have additional time outside work (which often skews male and single). Whether that is for them to spend time creating the portfolio or even having to do additional work to put in there – some people work under NDAs (think banking, many internal tools etc).
    It is a contentious subject but I do recommend reading up on the different opinions about it.
    I know it is slightly off topic as you were specifically asking about interns who, as most likely design students, should be building a shareable body of work. But thought I would let you know potentially where this came from.
    I agree that the applicant was clearly rude in how they communicated though.

    1. Watson*

      I came here to say exactly this! And I wonder if perhaps it’s just the applicant getting a bit ahead of themselves, because it wouldn’t be the first time someone came fresh out of design school thinking they’re the next Rand or Vignelli with the entitlement to match.

      My view on whether you should ask for a portfolio for interns though is mixed – I think it’s much more reasonable to expect that a cohort who are mostly current or recent students would have a folio to show (but that just disadvantages those who aren’t), but also, what do you really learn from a student folio other than that they can follow the request to supply one? That said, if it’s useful to you and helps you hire good candidates, at the junior levels it’s not a completely unreasonable ask.

    2. MK*

      I know nothing about the field, but how exactly are you supposed to select candidates for interviewing without taking a look at their work?

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        That’s what I’m wondering, too, even for senior positions, specially in fields like design.

        My own dad’s been a photographer for 45+ years and he still has a portfolio precisely for this reason.

      2. RandomName*

        I am not an expert, just wanted to raise that there is an alternative viewpoint.
        To your question, I would say the same way you hire the thousands of job that don’t have tangible output.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          We hire undergrads for a STEM summer research program who often don’t have much in the way of out of class experience in the field, and sometimes not much in the way of field specific stuff in class (ie, many people don’t specialize in the field until grad school), plus are not native English speakers. The way we do it is:

          Grades are used as a first cut. If someone is below a B average, or has poor marks in the courses most related to the field, they generally aren’t considered further. We get transcripts, so we can look at details, not just GPA. The quality of the institution is considered as well (on an international scale). After that, we look at the reference letters and the students’ application letters. We’re looking for academic ability, genuine interest the ability to work independently, and an indication that they’ve read the and understood the description of the internship. For most projects, coding experience of some sort (classroom or otherwise) is necessary. Demonstrating some sort of interest outside of class is beneficial – campus clubs, independent reading, participation in citizen science projects – as is sensible consideration of their future career path (beyond “I think Subject is cool!”).

          At the interview stage, it’s a major plus if they’ve actually read something about the project, and have reasonable questions – the majority don’t do this. We probe their knowledge level, to make sure that they actually can do what they say on the resume, and check that their conversational English is sufficient for the program (as their written English is often at a much higher level).

          By that point, the top candidates are pretty clear, and it’s mostly a matter of sorting out who goes with what project.

          1. Quickbeam*

            I coach a lot of new nursing students from my school of nursing. To support your point, I always tell them to read up on the hiring organization and be aware of their mission, projects and overall goals. Many think nurses don’t have to do this but for niche jobs the competition can be strong.

            I once got a job over internal candidates because I read the job description and was able to discuss the body of law the job oversaw. My boss later told me that not one other candidate did that. It is still relevant.

        2. Femme D'Afrique*

          “…the same way you hire the thousands of job that don’t have tangible output.” But design IS a tangible output. I can’t see any way around this, frankly. Design work requires portfolios.

          1. Erin*

            Design is a craft and it has a tangible product. Hiring a designer without a portfolio is like hiring a reporter for a newspaper without writing samples or a hair stylist with a bad haircut.

            1. Macedon*

              This is interns, though. I’d take an intern reporter without clips, but with copy off class assignments. I think OP needs to prob emphasise they’ll take classwork.

          2. WeevilWobble*

            Having the canidates do a design project is a much better way to judge their work. You have no idea if they did all the work in their portfolio themselves. And it favors factors other than ability.

            It’s really an incredibly inefficient way to get good applicants in the field and many companies have moved away from it. And those companies are going to get the better talent.

            1. MattKnifeNinja*

              My cousin works at a high end resort as a pastry chef. The type of place where one would have a $$$$ destination wedding.

              People apply for positions and the portfolios are GARBAGE. Stuff swiped from the internet. Other people’s work.

              Now she has them submitted two pieces of work (for grins and giggles), and then do a 2 hour demo piece.

              The ad will say must have sugar work experience. This is not an entry level position. The reason for the demo is home baker Buffy thinks she’s ready for big leagues. During the demo finds out Buffy talks a good game, but has no clue what *sugar work* even is. Though her picture shows cakes with sugar pulled flowers on them.

              This happens so often, my cousin partnered with a community college culinary school, so the amount of resume/portfolio fibbing is much less.

              It’s amazing what people try to pull.

          3. Artemesia*

            I would never hire a teacher without watching them teach. I would never hire a software developer without watching them do a code challege. I would never hire a designer without seeing their design work. A designer who cannot produce examples is not a designer and won’t be any good at it regardless of their gender, marital status yadda yadda. A design student will have designs from class; show those. A more senior person will have designs from work they have done; show those. The best way to louse up affirmative action as a principle is to hire a lot of unqualified people because they fit a category you are poorly represented in.

      3. Teapot PR consultant*

        We interview for PR people, not designers, but we give them a brief and ask them to write a media release and some social media copy while they’re in the office for the interview.

      4. Amaryllis*

        Maybe provide the candidate with specs and have them mock up a sample for the interview? There has to be a way to interview people who create things that are owned by someone else. How does a ghostwriter get work?

          1. Amaryllis*

            …By doing what I suggested in the first sentence? The theoretical application contains a spec that applicants use to create a sample design.

            1. Oryx*

              The way your original comment was phrased suggested bringing the mock up to the interview, meaning the candidate had made it past the resume stage.

        1. SignalLost*

          I know someone who is a ghostwriter. They get work by being very well known in the writing community and by proactively networking and responding to job postings. Oh, and by having a massive, 40-years+, collection of work published under their own name and other, non-ghostwriting, pseudonyms. In other words, by having a portfolio.

          Also, as a designer, a portfolio of one piece is really terrible. It doesn’t tell you anything about how a designer responds to different projects – maybe good at web page layout but bad at typography! maybe great at graphically-edgy work and terrible at corporate minimalism! – and it doesn’t give you the appropriate range to judge. If OP is worried they are somehow favoring men (?????) with a request for a portfolio, then maybe everyone could take a step back and say “a portfolio is the work created by a designer at any stage of their career, to be updated as their skills and work change, and every classroom deliverable is fair game for a portfolio for an intern or entry-level candidate.”

      5. HumbleOnion*

        My company gives design applicants a design project & a week to submit it. And we pay them to do it.

        1. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

          Who has the rights over the result? Can the applicant keep it and use it for their portfolio? I’ve heard lots of stories about companies that use test projects as actual work and threaten to sue the author if they call them out.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            What would they sue them for?

            I guess in this paid case you might have a contract that states the company gets the use of the art, while paying less than market rate for it. But if no money changes hands, then the company sifting through job applications for useful work and just taking it with no money exchanged or contract signed–what do they plan to sue the designer for, noticing? It’s a problem for designers in that the company probably has deeper pockets for a lawsuit and can bet it’s just not worth the effort for designers to retain a lawyer, but not because the designer has put themselves in legal jeopardy by having their work stolen.

          2. LQ*

            I mean if the company pays for it then …of course the company gets to keep it? If I pay someone to make me something then they have made me something and I have paid for it?

            The time to sue is when you don’t get paid and the product gets used. But if you are paid for your work it is no longer your work. You were paid for that work…Or am I missing something fundamental here?

          3. HumbleOnion*

            If the submission is good enough that we’re going to use those ideas in a product design, it likely means we’d hire that designer. But in reality, the candidates don’t have the full background about our business goals & strategies, so the stuff they submit isn’t really usable.

            The project is a way to see their thought process & approach to design, and to see what they can get done in 1 week (with the understanding that most people have full time jobs already). Why did they make the choices they make? What else did they consider? The final product is the least important part, within reason.

        2. Alldogsarepuppies*

          but presumably, you don’t pay everyone who applies…how do you pick who gets to that stage.

    3. Amylou*

      Found the thread on Twitter you meant I think, and this Jared Spool seems to be talking more about UX design and hiring for more senior positions.

      UX design is one thing harder to illustrate and maybe harder to create a traditional portfolio for (but not impossible). Students fresh out of design school will likely have little to no experience in that I think as well.

      From what I read, OP1 is likely talking about some sort of graphic design and then it will be super important to see what someone can do especially if they have zero work/internship experience. I can imagine superstar senior designers may not always need a portfolio because their reputation precedes them but surely pretty much all designers would have one?

      I even have a small portfolio of simple images (like social media, or web banners) and articles I produce during my job. And I’m not a designer by any means just an all-round comms person.

      1. OP #1*

        Yes! I am specifically looking for visual design interns. This is not a UX position, which is made clear in the job posting. Especially since we are focused on hiring interns (no experience is required at all, save for being enrolled in an appropriate university course), I was hoping I wasn’t wrong in asking to see portfolios, even if they were class projects.

        In fact, I was hired into my current agency fresh out of school with only a handful of internships and class projects in my portfolio.

    4. Graffix*

      I think the debate you raise is in a somewhat different field context than that of the OP, and thus may not be of much relevance here.

      I work in the same type of field that the OP is talking about, and for us having a portfolio is so absolutely standard and expected that not having one is an automatic pass for our agency. There is no role here for which you could get hired without having a strong portfolio, from intern to senior management.

      Behaving like an ass, as the candidate mentioned did, would just be the fondant icing on the fruit cake of rejection.

      1. Anna Held*

        I think RandomName was trying to give some context. Students are great for hearing a theory or new practice or whatever, and running with it in a completely different direction. I can 100% see a student hearing in class about some companies experimenting with getting rid of portfolios at X level for this reason, and he decided this was The Way It Is Now. Didn’t hurt that it got him out of a bunch or work, at least in his mind!

    5. Anontoo*

      Designer here. Visual design and UX are completely different disciplines. For visual design, a portfolio is standard, at pretty much any level.

      1. OP #1*

        +1 to this. I am specifically looking for visual design interns. I am a visual designer, not a UX designer and the position clearly states that it’s not a UX role.

        Unfortunately, a lot of local universities are blurring that line/definition between the two disciplines (I saw this when I was in school) so I understand some of the confusion. Lots of posters recommend I edit the language in the listing to clarify expectations.

    6. OP #1*

      Thank you for your insight on this, yes – I know there’s discourse surrounding the portfolio requirement, and I think that’s a higher level discussion than asking students to submit work samples for a paid internship. Additionally, I work under NDAs myself due to the space our agency works in, so I get not being able to share work.

      As other people have indicated, I’m updating our job listing to specify that shareable class work is acceptable.

    7. anon4now*

      “You are self selecting for people who have additional time outside work (which often skews male and single).”

      What a load. Self-selecting “single male” by asking for a portfolio for a design-related job? This irks me and feel so entitled and so far skewed, it doesn’t even make sense.

  12. LizM*

    OP#2, this is one of my pet peeves, but I’ve had to accept it. With most of our senior managers, I can assume that, at best, they skimmed the briefing paper I’ve prepared. More often, they’ll decide after the meeting whether they need to read further, or if they have enough info to make a decision in the meeting.

    This is where having a good relationship with the executive assistants can come in handy. Our senior exec’s assistant will usually give me a heads up if the senior executive is having a particularly hectic week and is more scattered than normal. I can also give her a heads up if it’s really important that he read the materials before the meeting and she will make sure they get in front of him with enough time for him to go through them (but that’s a privilege that can’t be abused, or it turns into a “boy who cried wolf” situation).

    Regardless, I usually start meetings by outlining the purpose and spending a few minutes on background. If I leave space for questions, I can usually get a good sense of whether the others in the meeting have a firm grasp of the material and are ready to dive right in, or if I need to spend more time on background.

    1. Jane in London*

      OP2, this is one of my pet peeves too! I recently had a two year project torpedoed at the last moment by a senior board member who was shocked…shocked!…by what we were proposing. No matter that he’d been at several meetings where the proposals had been discussed, and his comments sought at every stage…suddenly it was all dreadful. Honestly I don’t know what else I could have done, short of getting him in a headlock and reading the papers to him. And I’m not ruling that out….
      I shadowed our CEO for a day recently and my key takeaway was: these people are busy, they only want the headlines, they don’t want the detail, that’s what they keep me for. Which is fine, but some senior staff make disengagement an art form, and that’s not OK.

      1. !$!$*

        “Disengagement an art form” is what I definitely see in my large nonprofit. Big bosses often have no idea why something needs correcting or why we can’t magically pull grant money out our asses because they can’t bother to even superficially retain info regarding work. And it does create poor morale and encourages throwing coworkers under the boss because who cares what Fergusina actually DID in her work, what matters is what Fergusina APPEARS to be doing.

        1. Jane in London*

          I hear ya. And furthermore, big bosses don’t really understand why we do what we do. They think it takes ten minutes to develop professional guidance and why do you need to have a consultation and stuff? And then they draft ten bullet points, eight of which would require the profession to act unlawfully. I am sometimes tempted to just publish the rubbish they draft and let them get judicially reviewed.

      2. LizM*

        “Disengagement as an art form” is a good way to describe it. I’ve had multiple experiences when the higher ups (higher than the leadership I typically deal with) don’t engage until we’re a week out from completing a multi-year project. I’m in government, so there are laws and regulations governing our process. But they don’t understand why completely reworking things will impact the schedule. Something that would have been easy to fix 6 months ago will now set us back 6 weeks. But there’s really nothing we can do at our level except document that we followed their stated preferences for updates.

    2. Kate*

      Also one of my pet peeves. Personally, I even find the “bosses are busy” excuse a little grating. I’ve flown across states to give a presentation just for the higher up to not show because something came up, and I’ve sat in other meetings where the higher up checked his phone the whole time or talked to those around him paying little attention to the actual presentation. I know they have a lot going on, but it’s very frustrating to have spent all this time preparing a presentation just to have the main audience not pay attention or not show at all. But I think this is just one of those things we all have to live with.

      On the other hand, I think the 5-minute primer at the beginning of meetings is a good practice anyhow. My company works on many different projects, and it’s not uncommon to get thrown into a meeting at the last minute because “it might be useful” without having any context. So the brief primer is helpful to get up to speed for new to the company or new to the project employees.

    3. KH*

      Where I work, it’s just senior people, it’s a lot of people all through the ranks, so we’ve developed the following coping strategies. We’ve come to accept it as a part of our work culture – we all have a lot on our plate and are juggling priorities. With 8 hours of meetings some days, there is zero time to prepare or even read and comprehend the agenda.

      Our coping strategies:
      1. Make the meeting invite as clear as possible – include major objectives in the title, if at all possible.
      2. Call, text, or IM people who will have mandatory inputs. Let them know at least a couple days in advance, if at all possible. Be cognizant that they might have to prepare at night. Check in later to make sure they are on track. That’s also a good time to answer any inevitable questions or explain why the meeting is important.
      3. Add working sessions to the calendar. If you can’t get people to prepare before the meeting, schedule a meeting called “working session” that will force them to block their time. This puts 2-3 people into a room who will be able to help each other complete their individual or shared deliverables. I work with a few senior people who actually ask for this – if we don’t block their calendar time, someone else will.

      I don’t think we could be successful without these strategies. Being more aggressive with the calendar and promoting your priorities seems to be what works around here. It’s a strength, actually.

  13. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

    LW #5, this is just one of those things that even if you were 100% correct about, it would be none of your business at the moment. Many people with terminal illnesses keep that info private because it’s such a sensitive issue. However, there are at least 1000 other possibilities that aren’t as dire or severe, so while I get the anxiety, it’s not smething to project onto Jerry. Alison is right that you should focus on the pattern of directly related work problems when talking to him so he knows exactly what the problem is. It’s the most respectful way to allow him to take the lead in addressing his work issues and revealing whatever context is most comfortable for him.

  14. WS*

    OP #4 I’ve worked with many people who have acne and not once have I ever thought that their healing face looked “dirty”. I’m not saying that people (well, adults) don’t notice acne, but that the person with acne almost always feels far worse about it that anyone else ever will.

    1. Sam.*

      Yes. I do notice acne (usually because I’m sympathetic – I still deal with break outs in my 30s), but it’s in the same way I might passively observe that someone is wearing glasses. I see it, but it doesn’t really have meaning.

  15. Magenta Sky*

    #1: “You’re not with the times.”

    “You’re right, I’m not. But I am the one who decides whether or not you get an interview, and I decide against those who can’t or won’t follow instructions.”

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      This. Whether this young whippersnapper thinks this is outdated is totally irrelevant. The application asked for a portfolio. If you want the job, provide one. And not for nothing, Whippersnapper, several of your peers managed to do it just fine, so clearly it is possible.

      Further, posters mentioned upthread that this even IS a recent conversation in a part of the field. Fine, but “there’s recent conversation about this idea in part of the field” is very different from “this is now the standard and absolutely everyone has been doing it since the late ‘00s, and you are justified in pushing back on anyone who is not.” Whippersnapper needs to learn the difference.

    2. Cacwgrl*

      Thank you! That’s pretty dang close to what I said when I had an intern question why student intern applicants must submit an unofficial transcript. We need to review your education and I need to see if you can follow SIMPLE directions. Don’t like my rules, which are approved at every level of our organization? Don’t pursue jobs with my program.

  16. BePositive*

    #1 – that person insulted your experience. If your posting clearly shows a portfolio is need then they need to supply it. It would even be to his benefit to tell him you need Interns to follow direction.

  17. Mom MD*

    OP 1: put in your job ad that job submissions without portfolios will not be considered. What an arrogant a ss that guy was.

    1. Twitch*

      I think you must have missed this, from the OP’s post: as the job posting states, candidates are required to submit a portfolio to be considered”.

  18. Lissa*

    Op5, I noticed you said you wouldn’t forgive yourself if something were to happen but… it doesn’t sound like there would be anything to forgive! If Jerry is ill and passes away even ( which like others said isn’t likely) your knowing couldn’t stop it and if he is sick but not disclosing that is his choice. You knowing would probably not actually help so best to proceed with normal compassion you would have for anyone

  19. Meerkat*

    Interesting how the nyt article starts with examples of ostracization and ends on 100% personal individual attitude like clearly the only problem is if you *feel* ostracized.

    1. Nonsensical*

      This! I have only learned about executive summaries recently.
      But to sum it up: problem, constraints, here is the proposed solution. Keep it short and don’t dress it up.

      1. Liane*

        Reminds me of an old, old cartoon illustrating briefings by engineers to different layers above them. It went something like this:
        Boss: slide/s had a few bullet points in short phrases.
        Grandboss: Single word bullet points.
        Great grandboss: Same but only 1 or 2 single syllable words, in larger font.
        CEO: Big Smiley Emoji.

  20. Comms Girl*

    LW1: at least you know you don’t want to work with someone as arrogant as that candidate was. The good thing about vocal idiots is that we get to know exactly who/what/where they are and avoid them, instead of finding out later :)

    Speaking of intern candidates, I do remember one who opened his answer to the “tell me about yourself” question with “I get bored easily”. Or another one who 1) instead of thanking us for inviting him for an interview, said “it’s very good news that my CV caught your attention” and then, when not moving forward after the first interview round, said “blablabla thanks for letting know even though it’s bad news. Also, feedback is always a plus, so don’t hesitate to share what you thought about my performance!”

    I mean… *facepalm* (I felt like saying that there are way better ways to express/ask for these things, but it was not my place).

    1. OP #1*

      Yeah, besides the portfolio piece, he seemed like he considered himself to be the next Paul Rand or something!

      1. Comms Girl*

        I always say that I give a (very small) pass to arrogant people (like, say, Mourinho) when their work and accomplishments speak for them. When you’re as new to the workplace as this kid seems to be and have no relevant work to show, then just STHU instead of sounding like the second coming of Leonardo Da Vinci.

        Nevertheless, I hope (and I am sure) that you’ll find a great candidate with a nice porfolio :)

  21. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    He responded, telling me that I was “not with the times”

    I hope you told him he’s “not with the internship.” (Which it sounds like you did.)

    Although, I don’t know if he’s quite understanding of what you mean by a portfolio. If he’s thinking that he needs to have a full-on folder of designs, then that might be a little outdated (but also, I mean, don’t tell off your potential internship like that, bro). But also…I mean, Tumblr’s free, man.

    1. OP #1*

      Yes, lots of people suggested clarifying in the job listing what is acceptable/expected as a portfolio. If he had asked directly what I meant if he was unsure, I definitely would’ve clarified. Oh well, I’m still learning!

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        Like, I think the only thing you need to do is put that you require a portfolio near the top of the listing, if that, and to say that it doesn’t have to be a huge production. And that’s just to say that they had full warning that a portfolio is required.

        Also in case I wasn’t clear, the guy that mansplained about how portfolios are so out of date is a total jerk and you have my permission to tell stories about his application at professional gatherings.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Don’t let this experience make you think that you are still learning. You might be :) and if many of your applicants are missing out a requirement, then THAT data can be a reason to look over your advert, maybe speak to career liaisons to let students know what is expected in a portfolio, maybe sone reassurance somewhere along line that you’re not some shady company out to steal their work… you may already be good at all this, but if you want to take an objective look, go for it.

        Just remember that nothing this jerk said implies you have anything to learn. He was rude, dismissive and adds no value to your review.

  22. eplawyer*

    #1 – whether the portfolio is expertly done or not is secondary. They are hiring interns who are there to learn. If they can’t follow simple directions like include a portfolio in application, they are not going to be following directions to learn at the internship.

    #4 — don’t wear make up. I am in one of the more polished fields and I stopped wearing make up to court all together a few years ago. I just decided I didn’t want to take the time to put it on. Never once has it been an issue. I do get pushback on the 4 inch heels though (for health reasons only, not lookswise). Until I point out I can’t be seen at the bench without them.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      Hello fellow short person. Without my 4 inch heels, I’m kicking my feet like an overgrown toddler. *fistbump*

    2. Nonsensical*

      I only wear make up when I feel up to it but given I have been ill for a year, I don’t bother.

    3. TardyTardis*

      Another shortie reporting in, though I hated the heels we were issued in the Air Force. I decided I could just speak up and wear the Air Force oxfords. What a pity they didn’t have Air Force platform shoes…

  23. Nonsensical*

    #2, executives and high level managers’ time is considered more valuable. Keep the information succinct and to the point. These type of managers are often running over and late to meetings. This completely normal for high level managers. I also know from reporting to a VP for a while that often times they’re juggling multiple balls, required to be in meetings they don’t do much in. The higher you go, the more they expect to hear a quick rundown from managers below them. It might help to have a quick run down and make sure the information that is being sent out has high level enough information that an executive can just look at it without reading through 25 pages.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      This ^

      I”m a Sr. level manager and for context I just looked at my schedule for this week. I have 17 business hours out of 50 that aren’t meetings. Of the 33 hours that is booked for meetings, ~half of them are double or triple booked. This doesn’t account for the last minute no notice meetings that I expect to be added to my schedule this week (as they always are, generally about 5 hours worth). I generally end up blocking off any large chunks of time to do the work that is due that week.

      This week I have a surprise presentation that I just found out I’m responsible for with a day and half to prepare, I have a board level update due on Thursday that was moved up from next month. I’m covering for my boss who has a heavy travel schedule this week. And I have my own team to run and make sure I’m supporting them. Oh yeah, and the rest of the normal customer issues that pop up daily.

      Hate to break it to you (general global you) , but unless I curl up with the 25 page report before bedtime, I’m not reading it. Summarize it and give me the high points.

      (I’ll use AAM and other websites as my 5 min microbreaks to clear my head if I’m lucky enough for a meeting to end early)

      1. Nonsensical*

        You sound like my bosses. :)

        Always operational IT fires to put out. Usually if my boss is involved, it is a high stake fire that has to be handled now.

      2. LizM*

        Just out of curiosity, do you communicate that to your staff?

        I think part of the disconnect is the lack of communication. Staff is told something is their highest priority, and often it’s implied it’s their priority because it’s the organization’s priority. So then they feel blindsided when the sr. manager overseeing the project is clueless about the project.

        Everyone is busy, and that’s why it’s critically important to set expectations. One of the best things that my sr. manager ever did was take the time to explain his preferences at an all employee meeting (all meeting requests should include a 1 page issue summary, and he’ll read it if he gets it 2 days in advance; include meeting objects in the meeting request – he preps for an update very differently than he preps for a meeting where he’s expected to provide us feedback; don’t expect him to make a decision in the meeting if this is the first time the question is being presented to him, if you need a decision, schedule the meeting several days before its needed; etc.).

        It helps us make sure we’re prepping the right material for him and not wasting his time when we do get him for 30 min or an hour.

        1. LizM*

          Also, understanding his preferences, and including meeting objectives and a summary in the meeting invite help him (or his admin assistant) quickly screen meeting requests, and not accept meetings that he doesn’t need to attend, sometimes the one page summary is really all the info he needed at this stage, based on the objectives, and we can handle all of it by email, or he can have a 5 min conversation with my direct supervisor.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          That’s a good question. BTW, I love how your manager handles this.

          First and foremost we try to live by the rule that of myself and my team we shouldn’t duplicate attendance at many meetings. If one of us is attending that person will make the needed decisions for the team and then bring back pertinent information. Or they will defer the decision if they don’t feel authorized to make the decision, but again bring back the information needed for me to do it.

          I think we operate a little differently than you and your boss does, in that most of the time, there aren’t many of those situations. Typically the front line managers are masters of their domain so to speak, and they aren’t looking for me to decide anything. They set the direction and execute themselves, and my role is to give oversight, support, and keep the teams moving along the same general path. Most decision making on my team is ad hoc as things come up and we’re speaking several times per week if not daily that these discussions are generally informal and don’t require a lot of prep work.

    2. Ali G*

      I agree. I would also question if the OP is inviting the right people to these meetings. Is she expecting these senior managers to roll up their sleeves and get into the weeds on projects? If so, that might be part of the problem. Hopefully these managers have staff that they can delegate to and keep them in the loop so they can just provide the high level input when needed. I feel like the senior level folks should be involved in project initiation to make sure the project is on mission and everyone has expectations set, and then a staff person actually does “the work” while keeping their boss in the loop. Then during various milestones/at the end, senior managers are engaged, after being briefed by their staff person. Expecting them to be intimately involved in every detail just won’t work.

      1. Nonsensical*

        It might be one of those meetings where the managers to be in the meeting but don’t have anything to contribute at that part of the project. SDLC how I abhor thee. I wonder if they’re sending out notes after the meeting to summarize what finished. Most of my higher level meetings always have a summary sent out weekly of what they did, what is the next step is, who attended and what they are going to do next.

        That way if the manager or executive isn’t paying attention, it is still in their notes. So if something blows up or they do need the information, they have a break down. I am also wondering if maybe the executives aren’t getting the information they need. It might signify the need for a higher level report.

        It may not be a bad idea for OP to ask either their boss or the executives: what do you look to gain from this meeting and what sort of information do you need? I often times would be on a call with my boss but you could argue that my boss didn’t need to be there since I was.

        It depends on the structure.

  24. Triple Anon*

    #5 – My guess is that there’s more to this, but LW didn’t want to include too many details for privacy reasons. It sounds like Jerry has the same kinds of symptoms that Steve had and LW is concerned that it’s the same kind of condition.

    In any case, the bad reviews are a good reason to have a conversation with him and ask what’s going on. He might not open up to you, but at least you will have tried.

    1. Nonsensical*

      Yes but that is on Jerry to tell her. Though I would remind Jerry FMLA exists if he continues to feel ill.

      I don’t share my health issues with my boss because my health can be a tenuous string – I could be fine for 16 years and then suddenly require major surgery and be back to normal within a week or I could be out for 2 months. I don’t like to alert managers to this.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I don’t think FMLA would apply to Jerry, as a contractor for individual events.

      2. Reba*

        FMLA is almost certainly not at play here, since these are performing artists and the OP is simply booking them. They don’t work together at a company.

        Your point illustrating the reasons someone might not disclose a lot about their health (or whatever is going on) is important — Jerry might be aware of how things are looking but not want to spell out to bookers, or others, something that might jeopardize future gigs if word got out.

        1. Nonsensical*

          Completely missed the independent contractor part! Strike the FMLA part out. I hadn’t had enough caffeine yet. :)

      3. Triple Anon*

        Yes. And she has no obligation to do anything about it. But since she seems concerned, she could use the decline in performance as an opener for an open ended conversation. “You’ve always done such great work. We know you hold yourself to high standards. We care about our performers. We respect your privacy, but if there’s anything you’d like to talk about or anything we could help you with, please let us know.” Not the best wording, but something along those lines.

    2. A Nickname for AAM*

      Were Steve and Jerry partners, and Steve passed of AIDS?

      That’s the only reason I can see the concern strung together.

  25. Anon to me*

    #1 the lack of portfolio doesn’t shock me. Where I work we request a cover letter with resume, and we probably only get one 25% the time. So I’d assuming requesting a portfolio would yield similar results, even if it is a standard request. I’d ignor the guy.

    1. Bea*

      The lack of a over letter puts rage in my heart every single time.

      Even as a youth the damn things made sense but common sense not being common knowledge and all that. Siiiiigh.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        see above about software requirements. I’ve been burned as well when I’ve come across applications online that don’t seem to allow for upload of these, and you don’t realize until you are ready to hit submit, and there’s no turning back.

    2. foolofgrace*

      But given that you *request* a cover letter (and this might be nothing more than a space in the online form to paste one in), does that mean you automatically reject applications without one? It doesn’t sound like it’s a requirement.

      Also, and I know design applicants are different where a portfolio seems de rigeur without even thinking about it, sometimes I apply for jobs when I only have 80% or 90% of the requested attributes, and this is okay; sometimes the list of requested attributes is more of a wish list, and I’ve seen some doozies. That being said, I agree with the consensus that a portfolio is a requirement. I’m a tech writer and I have a portfolio of my work with the link on my resume.

      1. Anon Today*

        We list a cover letter as part of the application materials. The phrasing is like “to apply please submit a cover letter and resume to….” It’s pretty standard language. And while I know some hiring managers in the organization will consider an applicant without a cover letter, I will not. The inability to follow basic directions disqualifies a candidate IMO.

      2. LBG*

        Our hiring process has requirements, not requests. Cover letter, resume, 2 recent and relevant writing samples that are 10 pages or less, and at least 2 professional accreditation. If you fail to submit any of those things, we will remind you that incomplete applications will not be considered – once. After that, we put you in the reject file – you a) can’t follow instructions and b) haven’t demonstrated that you are qualified. There are lots of people who can do both.

      3. Jennifer Thneed*

        Two things: “Anon to me” used the word “request” and so you did too. But you don’t know what the actual wording is of the job ad is, so please don’t focus so hard on that one word. For all you know, the “request” is worded like this, “Please send resume, cover letter, blah, blah”.

        Because… We’re not talking about your normal daily interaction here, we’re talking about submitting job applications! which should come with cover letters regardless!

  26. Imaginary Number*

    #1 is probably an example of a young student hearing a particular teacher or mentor’s personal opinion on something and taking it as the word of god. “Ned said he thought it was ridiculous to ask a student intern for a portfolio, therefore anyone who asks me for one must be seriously out of touch, because Ned is the clearly the most awesomest and experienced teapot painter ever out of the three I’ve interacted with.”

    1. OP #1*

      Ha – this made me laugh! It’s a definitely possibility, especially since I personally knew a designer who’s ‘portfolio website’ was a single page with admittedly great, impactful typography that essentially said, “Fuck having a portfolio, have a conversation with me about what we can do together.”.

  27. Antilles*

    Well … having to give a five-minute primer at the start of a meeting isn’t outrageous. When you’re dealing with busy senior managers, they may have a ton going on and it might not be realistic for them to remember the details or context for your project.
    Not only is it not outrageous, it’s actually good practice to have a short primer on the meeting *even if* everybody is fully prepared. It helps dramatically in keeping meetings functioning well, stay on topic, and avoid dragging on endlessly. That little primer may seem like a waste of time, but in reality, it more than pays for itself because it lets everybody know exactly what to expect and sets the table for the problem at hand – so right at the start, you’ve got clear direction for your discussions and focused everybody’s attention.
    The length can vary of course, but a quick couple sentence intro on the problem to solve and its background should really be a standard part of virtually every meeting.

  28. kb*

    #1: This applicant was super rude, so I wouldn’t take his statement to heart. I would consider providing more guidance on what a portfolio should look like, especially if your pool of potential applicants includes college sophomores, freshmen, and below. Just a link to a sample may be really helpful. A little extra hand-holding may be a huge boon to students who have the talent and drive, but aren’t attending an institution that’s preparing them well for the field. I’d also make sure you’re posting your applications at least a month before the due date to give students enough time to put together a portfolio if they don’t have one assembled yet.

    Ultimately, I bet a lot of the applicants are just applying with the mentality, “Well I might as well apply, even without a portfolio, and see what happens.”

    1. OP #1*

      Thanks for the suggestions!! Many other commenters have recommended that I update the language to be perfectly clear on what is required and what will be accepted. Linking examples are a great idea too – especially since we are recruiting students from local universities who may not have any experience prior.

      1. RW*

        You may also want to consider your file size limits. I work in a design field as well, and have had some request a portfolio with a 3-5 mb limit. 3-5 mb, which is basically 1-2 pages. I’ve known others who skip applying to places altogether rather than re-make their whole portfolio. It might work for interns or if just asking for a small work sample, but it’s hard to get a portfolio through that. Sometimes if it’s not required I could see people skipping it and hoping to send one later if requested.

        1. AnonGD*

          Also, when you’re talking about students, I think it’s unreasonable for them to know how to compress a file without sacrificing quality. Sure– most might be able to figure that out– but we’ve had some great applicants apply with massive PDF files and I just taught them how to reduce file sizes as necessary during the internship. It’s such a small and easy thing to teach.

  29. Trout 'Waver*


    From the perspective of a director level or higher manager, often the outcome of a detailed technical meeting is that the junior manager is on top of the details. Frequently the director level manager is there simply to lend authority and sign off on the team’s decision. Honestly, I would view the lack of preparedness somewhat as a positive. It’s a sign that the director trusts the junior manager to handle things. If the director showed up prepared to do the junior manager’s job, I think it would be a sign that the director was concerned with the junior manager’s performance.

    1. Nita*

      That could well be part of it! The VPs in my office simply do not have time to remember every detail of every project they’re responsible for. They have several managers, and sometimes the entire department, reporting to them. It’s the manager’s job to fill them in on the key points if their input or signature are needed.

      Although, if managers are coming into these meetings completely unprepared, maybe OP should be circulating an agenda, and/or the exec summary of the key report, before the meetings.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    For #5, isn’t the most likely scenario that the late Steve has come back to our world via Jerry? We don’t know what his message is–is it a warning of things to come? is it some sort of instruction or guide as to the future? Is it something related to the lunchroom microwave ?

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Can we do the seance on company property? Well, how about if it’s after hours?

  31. Marilyn*

    Unrealistic to have a portfolio as a student?

    Oof, now that is fresh. I had a portfolio as a student. I wasn’t in design, but I had a portfolio, maybe not the best or most impressive portfolio, but it’s still one that I had.

    1. Neosmom*

      Agreed. I kept all of the articles I wrote for my college daily newspaper so I could provide examples of my work to employers considering me for internships and work after graduation. It’s not just design fields that require a “portfolio”.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Wouldn’t someone with an interest in design have some pieces they’ve done that they’ve been proud of? Submit those.

  32. A Nickname for AAM*

    OP # 1: My former organization had a job ad up for “Certified Lifeguard.” About 20 people applied.

    Not a single one of them was certified to lifeguard. Only one of them swam well enough to be placed in a lifeguard class. Most of them were surprised they had to swim “so much” to qualify for the job. One candidate failed the swim test and his mom called back to complain.

    1. BadWolf*

      Did they think the only thing they needed to do is blow the whistle at people? And in dire circumstances toss out a flotation device?

    2. watersquirrel*

      As a former lifeguard I was always SHOCKED at the people who would show up to the lifeguard class. It was especially exciting to be pretending to be the victim on the bottom of the pool and waiting to be saved. And waiting, and waiting. Ah, you just brought back great memories….

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My husband took lifeguard class; he distinctly remembered having to practice-rescue Ken, a huge muscular guy with negative buoyancy. You had to tow him around the pool, hanging onto him when he struggled and dragged you both under.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      My undergrad required a certain number of phys ed credits. One class was a lifeguarding class, which the course description specifically called out in-pool training and that you must be able to swim to take the class. You’d be certified at the end of the class.

      So many people showed up that could not swim more than a very poor doggie paddle and could barely keep their own head above water. So many of those people either expected to be taught to swim and/or expressed a great deal of surprise that lifeguarding would include swimming. I think about 75% dropped out or got kicked out.

    4. MattKnifeNinja*

      A friend owns a entertainment company that hires out face painters/clowns etc for parties.

      You’d be amazed how many people claim to balloon twist, but couldn’t. Could face paint a simple design under 5 minutes. Nope. Thought putting on a clown costume equals being a clown.

      These were people who made it past the first cut of “filled out the application correctly” label of screening.

      They were not amused to find out a demo is required, which my friend states on his website AND on the application.

    5. philippa*

      One wonders if the mum who complains on Pookum’s behalf because he didn’t get the lifeguard job would also be the one leaping into the water when Pookum needed to help a swimmer in distress. Or maybe helicopter parenting now comes with a rescue winch?

  33. I had bad interns*

    Interns. I had to deal with them for 5 years until I finally was promoted high enough to be away from them. I realize these are young people trying to learn our craft, but aside from two very good ones, all the others my company hired in those 5 years were terrible. Not “could improve” but flat out TERRIBLE. Here are some of the highlights (lowlights?):

    1. Intern#1 showed up for work in cut off shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. In an engineering/construction firm. For a face-position. Her excuse was “well, this is what I wear to class.” When told to go home and change into something more appropriate for an office, she burst into tears and accused the HR manager of “looking at her.”

    2. Intern#2 put on his resume that he had experience with AutoCAD. We gave him some drawings to adjust. He literally sat at the workstation for an entire before admitting he had no idea how to use AutoCAD and the video tutorials he found on YouTube were not helping. When asked why he had said he knew it and why it was on his resume, he said he just copied the resume from a frat brother and figured he could just learn the software. (AutoCAD is not something you can teach yourself in a single workday…or even a series of workdays)

    3. Intern #3 would show up when he felt like it. He was a huge gamer and would spend hours at night “streaming” then drag himself into the office. He worked as little as possible, often reading gaming forums/boards/whatever during the day. Some days he would call out sick. He asked his supervisor if “gaming addiction” could get him some disability benefits. We dismissed him after he no-called/no-showed during E3. He came in the day after it ended and tried to claim it was a “religious holiday.” Yeah.

    4. Intern #4 was the Social Justice Warrior from Hell. She complained to her manager about the little American flags some people put in their cubes around the 4th of July. She claimed they were “triggering” to her. She also made a sign and hung it on the women’s washroom door that said, “Gender Neutral Restroom. Anyone is welcome” with a whole bunch of symbols that supposedly represent 30+ gender identities. (Our company allows people to use whatever restroom they identify with, so this was totally odd…)
    Her moment of “truth” was the day we had a potluck. One of the women on the floor brought homemade tamales. Intern decided to insult the woman in front of the crowd calling her out for “cultural appropriation.” Funny thing, the woman may appear white, but she is actually from Ecuador. And she told the intern as much…and added, “eating food from another culture is not cultural appropriation you twit.”
    Intern went to HR for being called a “twit.”
    Intern was finally dismissed after that…and her mother called to complain to me about “not teaching her daughter office politics correctly.” Um…no.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Oh good lord… You are a saint for dealing with all of that!

      I’ve been fairly lucky with the interns we’ve gotten. The worst one, was the one I happened to wake up in his cube one day. I told his manager that it was time to move the group into one location that had low cube walls and to show the guy where the coffee maker was.

    2. London Calling*

      *her mother called to complain to me about “not teaching her daughter office politics correctly.”*

      Gosh, you can be taught office politics? I’ve always learned the hard way.

    3. irene adler*

      No, I think you did teach office politics correctly to Intern #4.

      Sheesh! I’m so fortunate that my company is too poor to bring in interns.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      But these are marvelous! Up there with the petitioning interns and the one who made a video of the automatic stapler. The HR manager looked at her…

    5. Observer*

      Funny thing, the woman may appear white, but she is actually from Ecuador.

      How shocking! You can ALWAYS tell from looking at a person EXACTLY where they AND their parents come from! /sarcasm

      I hope you told Mom that she’d be better off spending her time teaching her daughter to have as much manners as a well behaved 10 YO.

      1. annakarina1*

        God, I’ve heard that plenty from friends and acquaintances who are POC but appear white, and they’ve had stories of white people saying racist things to them about their own culture while thinking they were white too.

    6. Lora*

      1, okay, I can see if she thought she’d be more on the construction side? Maybe had some ideas about running around the Big Hole In The Ground with drawings or something, but once you’ve been told that nope you will be in the office, then….?

      2, I’m laughing because two jobs ago someone asked if I could do an AutoCAD thing for them because the CAD group was behind on their queue. I haven’t used AutoCAD since 2003, and told them so, but for some reason they thought I could just jump back in. Um.

      3, there is one or more in every program. It’s okay, he’ll flunk out (in ChemEng, he’ll flunk out in Transport or Organic, don’t know about other flavors of engineering).

      4, I have yet to encounter this one! Oh boy! Usually they just introduce the interns and say, “and we wanted to introduce [female or minority intern], Lora, this is our new intern! Intern, this is our Woman Engineer, Lora!” and they beam with joy because now they can check the Encouraging Diversity box on their annual review. So I am kinda tickled here.

      1. LKW*

        Construction requires long pants and boots. Mandatory. No sandals, no open toes. No sneakers. Sleeveless – well it’s a work setting, in my 7 years on a huge construction site, I never saw armpits.

        She was simply an idiot.

    7. OP #1*

      I generally like interns – helpful since I’m an intern coordinator, but I feel you on these haha.

      I had one intern candidate come in for an interview and when asking about his process on a design piece, he started every sentence with, “Now, this is kind of complex so I’m going to simplify it for you ladies…” Like, no. I know how to use Illustrator.

        1. OP #1*

          Haha patience is a virtue that I’ve have to keep reminding myself to exhibit. That was one of the first intern interviews I’ve ever conducted, so I was a bit taken aback. I took (petty) satisfaction in emailing out a rejection.

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        Oh my word, I would have laughed in his smug, sexist face. Bless you for your patience.

  34. Jam Today*

    “You’re not with the times” (maaaaaan)

    Did this guy telport in from 1968 or something? I’m picturing him wearing wide-wale corduroy, lecturing Don Draper about how out of touch he is with the kids of today, right before Draper heads off to the Essalen Institute and invents that Coca-Cola ad.

    1. OP #1*

      Man, I wish I was as suave as Draper in that situation. I just stared in shock and bewilderment at my email.

  35. Elmyra Duff*

    I wasn’t a design student, but I did get my bachelor’s and master’s and currently work in a creative field. The entire last semester of both programs were dedicated to us creating a portfolio. I’d bring the guy in for an interview and make him feel like an idiot the whole time, but I’m petty.

  36. LQ*

    Something that helped me understand this a bit better was just looking at the calendar of the person I was trying to get information out of. If the person has at least one – and often more – meeting scheduled over every single block of time on their calendar. Of course they aren’t reading the information. There is literally no time in the day to do it because they are scheduled back to back to back. When you add to that the higher up someone is often the more disparate projects that need their input so they have to swing wildly around at those meetings from one topic to a completely unrelated other topic. Not just slightly different, but often wildly different, with different players, different needs, etc. The 5 minute summary isn’t just to let them understand what you need, but to help them shift from the one thing to the next, pulling up who is a part of this, what the weird little catches are, is this the one that the person above was really excited about, or the one she wanted to cut, etc.

    Do you really need that person at your meeting? And what do you really need them to care about or decide on?

    I gained newfound respect for people doing this as I got split between two radically different jobs and had to juggle them at once. Your brain settles into dealing with one set of problems and then suddenly someone has one quick question, or needs just a little input but you have to basically climb all the way out of one hole and then go find the right other hole and climb down into it. I think good execs run around peering down into holes and watching the stuff that is at their level overall, but people are very frequently trying to pull them into the hole saying they can’t make a decision from up top. Just bring the thing they need to see up to their level and let them have the perspective they need while you have the super detailed perspective.

  37. Jam Today*

    “You’re not with the times” (maaaaan)

    Did that intern teleport in from 1968? I’m picturing him in wide-wale corduroy lecturing Don Draper about how he just doesn’t understand the youth of today, right before Draper heads off to the Essalen Institute and dreams up that Coca-Cola commercial.

  38. Oilpress*

    OP #3 – Imagine you are the boss in this situation. Would you want your staff coaching a specific candidate? If your boss finds out about your extra involvement then they are likely to lose trust in you. Don’t take that risk. You can argue for who you want just fine without playing favourites.

  39. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1 – Don’t students start building portfolios in school BEFORE they graduate?

    #4 – As someone who has battled acne for over half my life, you do you! If you’ve found that makeup only makes things worse/slows healing then by all means do NOT wear it. For me personally, I haven’t found a significant difference between wearing it or not as far as my own skin goes. I do know that when I find something that works (even minimally) I work that angle RELIGIOUSLY – for me that’s avoiding dairy. Make up makes me feel more confident when I have a break out and that’s why I personally choose to wear it. Also, I feel “polished” doesn’t equate to a full face of make-up. Lipstick/mascara can go a LONG way toward feeling more pulled together.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      #1 I thought so? I sorta have one and I took one intro painting class. Ever. I was a bio-turned-history major and even I assume you would need a portfolio to get a design internship or job and could show you *something* if you asked.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      My grandmother, back in the 1960’s, was a woman for following trends and fashions. And she only wore lipstick for as long as I can remember. Mind you, it was bright orange lipstick (did I mention 1960’s?) but still. She did the girdles, heels, purses that matched her shoes, all the stuff, but I really think she only ever wore lipstick. (Now I’ll have to ask my aunts what they remember.)

      1. Videogame Lurker*

        My grandma to this day is a minimalist with eyeliner, mascara, and maybe eyeshadow.

        She was also an acne sufferer, but her acne cure has since been linked with cancers, so it’s no longer used. A shame, according to her, her acne went away within a month and never came back except as mild PMS breakouts and stress breakouts.

        Stigma or not, being able to get rid of acne is nice when your workplace makes you watch the same PowerPoint about open wounds every year, and one of the examples is – shock – acne.

  40. Environmental Compliance*

    I’ve never had the pleasure? displeasure? of directly managing interns, thankfully. But I have worked with a couple that were….interesting.

    Intern #1 – field staff at a state environmental agency. For some reason he was convinced that I was also an intern, and it was explained to him several times that I wasn’t. He was also convinced I was much closer in age to him than I was, and that I was still in school (well, not wrong, but I was in my last year of grad school, and he was in his second year of undergrad). He also apparently never looked at my desk where I had a couple pictures of my fiance at the time. Nor apparently ever overheard me talking about wedding planning to my cube mate (he was at the desk about 2 feet away from me). He would leave me wildflowers every day and spent hours trying to talk me into visiting his dad’s land, ’cause he’s got like, 20 acres, ya know, and [intern] is working on restoring it and it’s just like, real cool there. No amount of telling him I wasn’t interested and throwing away the flowers and telling him to quit it got him to understand. However, after his boss sat him down and told him to knock it off, Intern was absolutely Shocked that I was *getting married*. Wouldn’t speak to me the rest of the season. Oh – he also kept telling me all these *cool new things* about the city we worked in…..that I had lived in for a few years at that point, and definitely already knew, since it was all the touristy stuff.

    Intern #2 – at a different state environmental agency. Showed up in near black tie every day. Not just business suit, but something I’d expect the groom to wear at a wedding. Really nice guy, did really well, but the suit (in a business casual environment) definitely stood out. He was really formal when talking to everyone too. I could not get him to call me by my first name, I was *always* Mrs. Compliance. He did it to everyone.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Oh dear, I’m imagining your #2 as the planters peanut guy for some reason, did he wear a monocle? Please tell me he wore a monocle… oh oh and spats nothing completes a look like spats?

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        No monocle, but he did wear really round glasses.

        He also would occasionally wear sneakers with his suit. Usually dress shoes, but every now and again, white sneakers. Always a dark suit, usually charcoal or black.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I think I love your intern. I’m really not sure why, but the image is still a great one. (Yes, I’m still picturing your intern as the peanut guy).

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I’ve occasionally wondered what became of him. He’s always going to be Serious Suit with Sneakers Guy to me, so in my head he’s working somewhere prestigious and awesome (because he really had great work), but still in a charcoal suit with white sneakers. Because it’s casual Friday, so it’s sneakers day.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      OK – where we are – wearing a near-black tie will have people wanting to offer condolences… or wondering why you’re going to so many funerals…

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah, we were really confused/concerned at first. His manager did ask about it, and apparently he just really liked wearing suits.

        1. Nonsensical*

          His manager might have done him a favor by explaining the impression it gave to others.

          I know you’re supposed to dress for the job you want, but this is a bit overkill!

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Suit… likes suits? Black tie = funeral.

          I wonder if no-one had ever told him that if it’s same code where you are!

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            IIRC his manager attempted to explain to him the ‘types’ of dress code and what our policy was and he just… kept wearing them. I think his manager just shrugged it off after that, since the guy was clearly not interested in changing and didn’t seem to care about it.

          2. Marissa Holloway*

            Listen, you guys leave Barney Stinson and his legen(wait for it)dary suits alone.

            SUIT UP! ;)

            More seriously though, yeah–that could get you billed as out of touch with the office culture. Although it’s better than the other extreme.

    3. Observer*

      Well, I’ll take #2 any dat over #1. Two is odd, but ok. #1, on the other hand, was full on creep. Forget all of the other stuff – there comes a point where you need to accept a NO, despite what the RomComs tell you. The fact that your boss had to tell him to knock it off is horrifying. And inexcusable, given that he’s an adult (even though he hadn’t graduated college yet.)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        IIRC #1 was pretty offended he wasn’t offered a full time position despite that: 1) there wasn’t one open and 2) his boss had nearly put him on a PIP by the middle of the season because of low to no productivity and 3) his conduct overall was just bad. When his boss sat him down (again) to tell him to cut out the whining about FT work, and here’s what you need to improve to advance your career and/or get hired here, his response was “but I didn’t know she was like almost married!!” as though that’s an excuse. They kicked him out about a month early, which he paraded around the office as an early departure because of school.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Because your complete lack of interest and explicit comments to back off don’t count unless someone else has ‘claimed’ you. Plus mansplaining the city! What an ass. At least he was still young; I hope he’s matured considerably since then.

    4. annakarina1*

      I am imagining Intern #2 as some harmless quirky hipster guy who decided that wearing a formal black suit everyday was going to be his “thing,” and living his life as if he’s in some indie comedy.

    5. Marthooh*

      Intern #2 is clearly a vampire, and you should have told him he’s “not with the times”.

  41. aka Duchess*

    #4 If it would make you feel more confident to look more polished on days where your skin is less than stellar -which i totally get – you don’t need to slather on heavy foundation. I do makeup for many women who don’t face products. Having groomed eyebrows, a little mascara, and a tinted lip can go a long way. There are even lightly tinted moisturizers than can subside some of the redness.

    Not saying you need to! Just giving a different take on what some people would see as a polished look that doesn’t require heavy makeup.

  42. Akcipitrokulo*

    I initially read the headline
    intern candidate told me I’m “not with the times,”
    intern candidate told me “I’m not with the times,” – ie, admitting a deficiency in a very odd way… but yeah, that’s not OK and should be rejected for rudeness alone.

  43. LKW*

    LW#2 – It’s called managing up and you should learn this to make your life easier.

    I’m senior but not super senior. I am managing a large project, serve as subject matter expert for another project and am involved at any given point in 2 or 3 proposal strategies all while managing my team as well as serving as coach for 4 others in my organization. I’m busy. So if you want me to participate in a meeting, if you hand me anything more than 5 pages to read before the meeting in anything smaller than 14 pt font, it’s not going to get read with detail.

    Tell me at the beginning of the meeting: This is the purpose of the meeting. This is the objective of the meeting. This is the outcome that I want to achieve. Tell me specifically if you want a decision, agreement, brainstorming, what do you want from my brain. Tell me in the meeting invite. Tell me in the meeting details. Send me a reminder if you want (but that’s a bit overkill).

    I do this with those I report up to, I coach my teams on how to do this with our clients.

  44. McWhadden*

    Strange I’ve always found that berating a Hiring Manager is a very effectual way to receive an interview and the inevitable offer.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Well, if you don’t tell them how wrong they are, how will they know you are the right person to fix the mess they’re making?

  45. The Ginger Ginger*

    OP #2 – How are you using the meeting invites that you’re sending to these folks? At least in outlook, there’s a spot for copy or a “body” in the invite. Are you including an agenda there? Noting any pre-reqs for the meeting? I always at least include a bullet point agenda in there. If I’m not sure everybody’s on the same page pre-meeting, I’ll give a couple sentence summary of the issue/reason for the meeting before the agenda. I may also include a list of any outstanding questions or roadblocks. I’m not writing a book, but I am trying to provide brief context for the meeting in a brief, readable format. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to not have senior peeps in your meeting who haven’t had a ton of time to come prepared; that’s just the nature of the beast, and giving a quick opening summary during the meeting is really, really standard (I’ve always done it, and never really thought of it as an issue or strange). But giving them a quick reference to glance over before the meeting may cut back on some of the blank stares.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If that’s what he thinks, though, he had a very strange way of phrasing it. “Not with the times” is not an effective way to convey “I think your expectations of a student/new grad are unreasonable”.

  46. Kat Em*

    OP #1: Is it possible that students have an outsized idea of what a portfolio is? If they think it’s something huge and professional and full of paid work, it’s reasonable to think that interns might not have something like that at this stage. Maybe being more specific about “a link to five or more examples of your work” or whatever you’re looking for might be more helpful. Clarifying that a free WordPress blog or a Dropbox file would do the trick might encourage more complete applications as well.

    1. OP #1*

      Yes, that’s what I’m thinking, especially with all the other commenters suggesting clarifying what I’m looking for and what’s acceptable. I’m definitely not asking for a huge, professional portfolio full of paid work – just work samples that can be from class to show what they can do.

      1. Kat Em*

        I definitely had crises of confidence when I was new to writing and was asked for a “portfolio” of my work. Once I realized they just wanted some clips that showed a variety of work, I calmed down a lot. I’m not a designer, so having a fancy website is nice but not as necessary as I once imagined. Being new to a given field can be so intimidating, especially when you’re also young as well. :)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Or maybe these applicants aren’t reading carefully and somehow imagine it’s a portfolio created specifically for this internship instead of a general portfolio they can show to any internship/job they apply to?

  47. NW Mossy*

    OP #2, if you become skilled at spending the opening 10-15 minutes of a meeting getting everyone up to speed, you’ll find that your meetings generally are a lot more effective. You’ll also get a reputation for being someone who runs a good meeting that doesn’t require a ton of prep work, which overbooked senior leaders really appreciate.

    I know it seems efficient to have everyone do the background independently first so that the meeting can be all discussion and decision, but there’s a lot of risk there. You identified one (not being familiar with the background at all), but another big one is that people run off with different interpretations of the background and you spend 30 minutes in the meeting trying to corral them back. If you give the background live, everyone hears the same message at the same time, and there’s an easy opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings in the moment. If you’re particularly suave, you can also use how you deliver the background as stage-setting for your desired decision.

    Another option is to do more of your meetings with peer managers and/or directors, rather than their superiors. If you trust them to do a good job on briefing their bosses, you can have the discussions with people who are both closer to the work and have more time to prep for your meetings. They then can present the proposal to their bosses and get any signoffs you need. Ideally senior leaders would do more of this delegation themselves, but you can certainly suggest, “Hey, Gru, I know you’re busy – want me to invite Minion Bob to this meeting? He’s been involved with the shrink ray project before and I think he’ll have some good ideas for our Moon Theft initiative.”

  48. user8246*

    #1 “It is very, very normal to request a portfolio when you’re hiring for design work. Most designers want a chance to show you their work.”

    Yeah, but maybe not students who apply for internships.

    I don’t think anybody can expect a portfolio from a student.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      My daughter, applying to a college course from high school at 16 was asked for a portfolio. It’s not unusual!

      Teachers helped the kids going on to art or design courses to pull their work together. No-one is expecting the kind of portfolio that will get you professional paid work… but a portfolio of a few pieces you’ve done in class isn’t unreasonable.

      1. user8246*

        I don’t know. Maybe you’re right and it’s more popular in the US.

        I’m in Europe and a question about a portfolio for an intership would be treated as a huge overkill. OP could give the candidates a small task to do instead of demanding a portfolio.

  49. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    Okay so I read Letter 5 over again and while I’m still pretty sure that LW5 doesn’t need therapy and I’m also hoping Jerry isn’t sick like Steve was…please don’t take this the wrong way, LW5, but what support does Jerry get during events? Because if he’s had multiple consistently bad appearances, that’s the major issue.

    Is there a way to offer to modify what he’s doing during events? Like, for example, to at least temporarily lower the number of questions he has to answer at Q&A sessions. Or to reduce the time he has to stand. This way, he’s being provided help to perform better, and you’re not probing into what might be very personal business for him. You’re simply solving the issue at hand.

  50. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Not with it…
    Yeah, in 1987 a college kid told a prospective employer that they should be able to fax resumes instead of mailing them.
    There’s at least one kid who’s going to know it all before he walks in the door.

    1. Nonsensical*

      Mail… what is mail?

      Is it an AOL email address?

      I’ve heard of this thing before.

  51. Database Developer Dude*

    That intern is stupid on two levels. The first has already been discussed ad nauseum here. The second level is that the prospective employer has all the advantage because of the imbalance of power in this relationship. Absent completely egregious or illegal behavior on the part of the prospective employer, providing negative feedback, even if done in a professional manner, can only hurt a job candidate….

  52. Ms. Pear*

    OP #4: For the past five years, my daughter has also suffered from terrible cystic acne. She’s been seeing a dermatologist that whole time, taking antibiotics every day, trying various creams and soaps, cutting dairy completely out of her diet — nothing worked. A lot of painful breakouts, week after week. But then she heard about Curology and figured that for the price, she would give it a try (I think she said it’s less than $20/month). What a difference! We can’t believe it — her skin is nearly clear!! She took her bottle to the dermatologist for her most recent appointment, and he was amazed as well and is now looking into it for his other patients. If you haven’t already, you might try checking it out, because the first bottle they send you is free. Good luck!

Comments are closed.