Let go of the leave-behinds
When you’re in the classroom, you imagine that life as a professional is just like life as a student. Or, at least, you prefer to imagine it that way. Even though, buried deep inside your thoughtful designer brain, you know you’re kidding yourself.
Some of your classroom experiences translate into the real world and others don’t. Every moment that you spend designing is worthwhile, but each finished piece isn’t necessarily going to help you outside the classroom. One particular project, although it promises to be especially relevant in the real world, usually isn’t. This generally useless project, dear students, is the leave-behind.
A leave-behind is the piece that you give to someone after an interview. It usually contains samples of work and is often engineered into a 3D contraption of some kind. They’re intended to be an impressive showcase of your talents. Presumably, you expect us keep it around for awhile – perhaps toying around with it during our afternoon tea break.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. Because of the limited size and budget, the leave-behind rarely showcases your work very well. Because they’re inexpensive and assembled by hand, they usually look like they’re inexpensive and assembled by hand. And because we don’t have much downtime (even for afternoon tea breaks), your leave-behind probably doesn’t stick around as long as you think it does.
I’m not suggesting that every leave-behind is a waste of time. (We’ve seen some great ones in the past.) And, I realize that we may be contradicting your instructors and/or curriculum. So just keep this in mind: leave-behinds typically don’t work that well in the real world, and they’re likely not a great way to represent yourself.
Nothing shows your work as well as your actual portfolio, and if we’d like to see more of your work, your website is the best substitute. You’re better off investing your time and effort a useful online portfolio.