Writing a book is a dream for many people, but it can be an intimidating and daunting task. The idea of sitting down and creating something that is interesting, engaging, and fulfills a need in society is a challenging feat. With the right mindset, tools, and resources, Mark Smith has done just that with his new book, “Design Portfolios: A Recruiter’s View.”

In 2019, RVi Austin’s Mark Smith and Peter Dufrene traveled extensively for portfolio review sessions. During these travels, they spent countless hours conversing, covering many topics. At one point, Peter suggested to Mark, “you know, that really went well. You should write a book on that.”

This sparked Mark’s creative journey, and within a week, he began outlining his story.

During these portfolio review sessions, Mark noticed many books available for professionals on creating outstanding design portfolios, but only some were tailored to students. Moreover, the ones that were geared toward students were unaffordable. To address this issue, Mark extensively researched the topic by purchasing nearly every book, reading countless articles, and speaking with hundreds of students on the subject matter. The book was tailored for the student, with price and subject matter at the forefront of the design process.

The book provides an insider’s perspective on what recruiters seek in design portfolios and how they make hiring decisions. It is geared towards assisting students and young professionals in understanding that a strong design portfolio goes beyond merely showcasing their work. A concept highlighted within the book, The Four S’s, is a result of years of experience reviewing student portfolios, hosting portfolio reviews, and conducting interviews. It focuses on an organizational approach, emphasizing the importance of telling your Story, revealing your Style, asserting your Substance, and Sharing it effectively. The book includes actual student portfolios as examples. It illustrates how to create a professional-quality portfolio that will help designers secure that crucial next step in the recruitment process, the interview.

As Smith reflects on the book writing process, he notes that Chapter Two: Tell Your Story was his favorite; it is the theme of the entire book. Sharing the quality of work and the character of the person behind the work are two integral aspects of a portfolio. Story is a simple way of helping the hiring manager understand the applicant. Regarding story, Smith hopes that readers realize the lasting impacts of a portfolio. It is a way to display everything one has accomplished in their professional career and to tell the story of one’s professional accomplishments. As careers progress and grow, there is much to show for and added value in one’s portfolio if it has been consistently updated and preserved. You never know the last efforts your work will have on a future Landscape Architect.

Smith leaves one legacy through “Design Portfolios: A Recruiter’s View” and is paving the way for another by working on a second book that will cover the creative design process.