I was recently invited to be a member of the Professional Advisory Committee for the Interior Design Program at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. Always ready and willing to offer my two cents on anything design-related, I happily agreed. This involved participating in a Student Portfolio Review and a discussion about the program’s curriculum. My fellow committee members included other industry professionals from firms such as BAR Architects, HOK and the Wiseman Group. It was great to hear what different studios are looking for in junior staff and to observe what other design pros see when looking at the students’ work. The general consensus was: show more process and basic design practices and focus less on the smoke and mirrors in the presentation. So, okay kids, listen up. Here’s a little free advice: Hone your design skills; develop proficiency in drafting conventions; practice your hand sketching; and have a point of view! If you can’t demonstrate these things, all the overblown graphics in your presentation documents won’t make a bit of difference. As the incredibly astute Louis Schump of HOK offered, “It’s hard to see what’s going on with the plan when it’s cloaked in a sea of baby’s faces or a bamboo forest”. So true, Louis. So true.