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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Oct 27, 2010

Three Keys to Landing that Internship

1. Network 
Get to know your professors. Whether it’s a visit during office hours to discuss coursework or an impromptu cup of coffee before class, take the time to know the man or woman who’s teaching you. This is the person who may write you a stellar recommendation next semester.  

In my undergrad program, we had several professors who had real world projects that kept them busy when not in the classroom. My friend and on-campus co-worker, David was asked to assist with a summer book design by one professor who got to know him in class and liked his attitude and work ethic–even though his software skills were lacking. 

2. Initiative 
When you find an internship that interests you, send a resume and cover letter immediately. Waiting weeks means that the hiring manager will see many more applications that just yours, and you don’t want to miss an unstated deadline. Be sure to include the name of the person doing the hiring for this position, “to whom it may concern” has always been an unacceptable greeting!   
Follow up after a week with a short note by email or a phone call to check on your application status. It’s not pushy and employers appreciate it when applicants take initiative.

3. Portfolio
Do you have a portfolio? If you’re just starting out, your body of work may be slim—but the truth is, three design pieces are better than none. Make the three pieces flawless and be sure to include a link to your samples in your resume or cover letter. Employers seeking a graphic design intern want to know that you have the basic skills to do the job.  Omitting your samples in the application means that your paperwork gets recycled instead of reviewed.

When you land the interview, show up with your pieces mounted and be sure to speak knowledgeably about the design principles used in each project. My first portfolio was slender. I think I had five pieces, and one of those was my personal identity package—seriously. Among the pieces I included were: 
  • a typography assignment from school that was particularly successful (thanks Bert Smith) 
  • an identity package from a freelance client
  • and two posters from my poster design class
 Although the pieces were few, I could speak intelligently about every design decision that I made in creating them. I knew that the baseline shift in my typography exercise created visual interest and movement, and that the bolded text and placement helped to create hierarchy and give color to the black and white page.
This is what you must do in today’s competitive design world.

 “Take Initiative” was Adapted from American University AUpedia 


Lisa G said...

do you have any samples/examples from that first portfolio??

Simone Jenifer said...

Look back in my 2008 posts, it's 1 of 2 (c: