In the age of behance, and dribbble it can be hard to see anything but really impressive work. Sometimes I look at designer’s portfolios in awe. They are gorgeous and thoughtful and show hard work in a simple way. How could anyone just starting out not be intimidated by that?

You never realize how your skills develop over time. For most of us, skills develop in organic ways. You take on a side project that pushes you to learn something new. Then a close client might ask you to do a favor for them, and you find your self digging deeper in the subject. Everyone goes through change in their career. Sometimes it happens fast and sometimes it happens so slow that you don’t even notice.

It is the small steps that lead us from one project to another that grows us as designers and thinkers. Every project teaches us something that we didn’t know before. Things that no one really teaches you. Small things like email etiquette and naming conventions and large things like working with different people and giving supporting feedback. This small amount of growth in every project is what makes you feel that you are ready to take on more work, management, or your own practice. It builds your creative momentum as you finish each project.

This weekend I was digging through some old boxes in my garage. I have just purchased my first house and I am trying to get things organized. Amidst all the half-baked Arduino projects and piles of paper, I found a box of projects from my years at college. It wasn’t my official student work but just a collection of drawings and designs that I had been working on for school. Among these was the “portfolio” that I used to land my first internship. I am not going to lie, it was laughable. I am not sure how I had the guts to show that to someone and ask for a job. But I did and it worked. I got a start and that gave me the momentum to produce more.

When thinking about portfolios and specifically the work we show to get to the next step in our career, maybe we should focus on momentum. We should show work that displays those small steps that built us into what we are. After all that is what an employer wants to see. Let us show our thinking, our decisions, our wins, and our times of growth. Lets keep the momentum going!

As always I hope that you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to email me at if you would like to chat more about UX and UI design. Thanks!

Written by Steve Erro

I am a designer that is interested in how design, humans, and business interact with one another. I currently live and work in San Diego.

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