Landing that graphic design internship isn't as impossible as it seems...
Have you recently graduated from a Graphic Design program, either on-line or on-campus, and are now looking for an internship to help get you the real life experience that you need to succeed? Get in line :)
Finding that right first job can be a daunting task, so the connections and experience you gain can be invaluable to getting your career off to a great start. First, let’s define what an internship is, and what you should expect.
The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines an intern as “an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field gaining supervised practical experience.” Experience. That’s really the key, isn’t it? It’s sometimes a huge letdown to graduate from school, launch a gung-ho job search, and then realize that all of the jobs require at least 1 year or more of experience before they’ll even think about hiring you! What a Catch-22.
That, my designer friends, is where the coveted internship comes in. It is a win-win for both you and the employer. They get free or low-cost labor from an eager-beaver new grad, and you get all the experience and connections that you need to launch your career.
Here is what you should look for:
-A reputable company or firm. “Designing that logo for you aunt’s hole-in-the-wall bakery” does not qualify as an internship. Be willing to work for free or very little. Have a parent, relative or friend that would be willing to let you crash at their pad for a year-long internship? I suggest you start cultivating relationships now.
-Something that is full-time, if possible. Part-time gigs are OK if that’s all you can get, but try to find somewhere that can give you that real-life work experience.
-Connections, connections, connections. Do you collect anything? No? Well, you do now. And it’s business cards. Get to know everyone in the industry that you can. And that includes non-designer contacts, such as printers, web designers, etc etc. Just don’t collect customers to pinch from the firm that you are interning at—that’s a sure fire way to get yourself black-listed right off the bat.
Here is where you look for it:
-The newspaper. Yea, some people still look at that big foldy-paper with black letters.
-Online job boards, such as monster.com and jobs.com.
-Industry group job boards, such as designjobs.aiga.org. Try and go to industry group conventions if you can while you are in school or after you graduate. This is a great way to make connections for future experience opportunities.
One final note: make sure to read up on the best resume writing strategies for new grads. Not all resumes are created equal, and you want to make sure to present yourself in the best light possible.