Thoughts from Mandy:
Walking through the doors for my interview, I had no idea what to expect. I knew very little about the firm however I knew I wanted to work for a creative studio where most days are not the same. I know its sounds a bit odd but after being offered beer so we could relax and chat during the interview, I had a feeling that this might be the place for me. Its not that I drink at the office, it was the relaxed workplace environment and change of perspectives that I was ready for.
Now that have been at LLM for a few months, I still come back daily. I work on a variety of projects which is a great way to keep the mind fluid. I love that I work on things that speak to my skill set so I am able to feel confident in the work that I am producing. Maybe I’m even cultivating a super power for rendering? In the office, I’m treated as part of the team which means that sometimes I’m in the office and sometimes I’m not, sometimes I sleep in and sometimes I don’t. People even make room for me at the dining table, how wonderful.
Thoughts from Mike:
Why did I want to work at LLM? I knew after having Leila as a teacher I wanted to work for her. She has this passion and drive for her work that is very inspiring, and I wanted to tap into that somehow. Like Mandy, I had no idea what to expect when I went in for my interview, but I did know I wanted to work at a firm that would help me fuel my passion for design and learning. Along this pre-co-op experience a few factors confirmed that this would be the place for me.
For one, the view is amazing, and even though it may seem cliché, it pushes you to strive for the top. Who wouldn’t want to come to work with the beautiful Boston skyline surrounding you everyday? However, you can’t enjoy the rewards without putting in the work to earn them. Secondly, when you walk into the office you can’t avoid the positive atmosphere. I presented my portfolio at their dining room table in the middle of the office with their corn hole set up to my left equipped with fake grass. The desks arranged together where project managers, founders, and designers work side by side. It is an office designed to practically breed collaboration and provide a comfortable environment. Finally, when I heard back from Leila at 9:00 PM on a Tuesday, I knew this wasn’t a place where work was left at the office when the clock hits five. It may seem uncommon, but this actually enriched my desire to work here. It confirmed that this job would be challenging but that’s what I was looking for. A job where it didn’t feel like I was simply working, but made me feel like I was growing and being pushed. A place where my passion can be fueled.
However, we wouldn’t have gotten here without appropriately talking about our portfolios and expressing ourselves and career intentions. Here are a couple of tips for having a pleasant interview and portfolio review experience:
Tips from Mandy:
When talking about your portfolio, or any project of yours, it is necessary to be definitive. You created the project so you know ALL OF THE ANSWERS. If it helps, have an idea of how you would talk about each project and what your talking points would be. Not all details need to be covered since people will ask questions if they want. However, if you are proud of something this is your time to shine.
Another great way to successfully survive and thrive in an interview is to appropriately talk about yourself. Think of some things that make you sound great (and doesn’t lie), then copy and paste from interview to interview. Thinking about how you want to talk about yourself in advance will help you better advertise yourself and your skill sets during the interview. After some memorization, it will come off as polished and not stiff. This is easier than it sounds.
Lastly, be genuine. For a shoe to fit, it has to be the right size. Be yourself, and express your core values and career interests. Not all companies will share the same values as your own however in that case, there is probably another studio out there that does. If both you and your employers’ values align, it will be a more wholesome co-op experience for the both of you. Keep your eyes out and your sights practically high.
Tips from Mike:
In addition to what Mandy said, come prepared to the interview. Run through your portfolio so you know it in your sleep. Even though you may think you look crazy for talking to yourself as you practice, it will pay off when you feel a bit calmer because you’re not scrambling for words when you’re presenting your work.
You also need to understand that this is a conversation. Know that as much as they are looking at your quality of work, they are also trying get a sense of your personality, and considering if they could work with your for 8 hours of their day 5 days a week. I was once told that after the interview employers try to imagine that if they were on a cross country flight with you sitting next to them, would they enjoy the flight with your company or would they rather switch next to the guy who snores too loud.
Lastly, when you get the job you also need to be receptive to learning and give 110% no matter what you’re doing. Although you may think you have signed up to do one specific thing, be aware that in many cases you will be wearing many hats in the office. You are there to learn and grow, and it is better to go into the experience ready to receive any knowledge that would help you develop as a better professional and/or a better person.