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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

May 1, 2010

The Case for Completing an Internship

In college, they tell you that your internship counts as professional experience. It generally does. This is why participating in an internship is an excellent idea for design students who plan to have jobs post-graduation.

An internship gives you the opportunity to test drive your chosen career path, work on real-world projects, and see an actual workflow–without the luxury of multiple revisions that you have in the classroom. Undertaking an internship when you’re still in school is one of the best ways to see what you’re in for before your university closes its gilded doors behind you, for good.

These are the top reasons for you to bite the bullet and take that 3 or  6 credit internship:

CC License Attribution: Astragony
Gain Experience:  First and most importantly, an internship gives you opportunities and experiences you won’t get as a student. Although it’s less true today than two years ago, you have the chance to get your foot in the door of a company or industry where you want to work.

Test-drive a Career:  Is graphic design really for you? Are you prepared to work in a fast-paced , deadline driven environment? Are you prepared to fire a client? Find out more about yourself and about the field through your internship.

Pry Open a Door: Having Discovery Channel, Johns Hopkins University, or Blakeslee Group on your resume reads a lot better than freelance babysitter. Believe it!

Make Connections:  As an intern you meet people working in your industry—with years of experience under their belts. Pick their brains! Get feedback on your on-the-job performance, and even on graphic design school projects. In no other industry are peers more willing to share their knowledge, expertise, and work-arounds. Keep business cards and bookmark these folks’ websites, and connect with them on LinkedIn—a freelance referral, glowing recommendation, a job lead, or a mentor might well be in your future.

Of course, there is a potential downside to internships. Presently, many of the available postings are unpaid. Companies find that stiff competition between college students and recent grads makes it a “seller’s market”.  The decline in availability of paid internships is evidence of this.

Find out about the potential downside of participating in an internship

As you weigh your options, remember that the ultimate goal is to land an decent job, in your field, with a competitive salary and a level of job satisfaction. Internships offer you real work experience that is hard to get once you leave school.

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