In these strange times, internships may be one of the best ways to launch a design career, so embrace them — don’t avoid them.
Its a great opportunity to:
- Apply design skills acquired in college to real-world projects
- Collaborate with professionals
- Gain insight into the professional world of design
- Try out a working environment where you may hope to land a full-time job
- Network with design professionals
Getting noticed —
making a great application
- Don’t wait for internship opportunities to find you — Be proactive, contact companies and specific people that interest you.
- Smart research — Find out the names and contact details of who to talk to.
- Remember letters? — Go against technology and write or make something appropriate as your first method of contact.
- Details — Your attention to detail should be flawless. The way you present yourself is a good indication of the way you will present work to clients.
- Speak up — Express enthusiasm and intelligence, expand your vocabulary if necessary [don’t just say its ‘retro’ or uses ‘white space’].
Self promotion —
Introductory letter & CV
- Dear Sir or Madam / To whom it concerns — Very seldom will a creative director ever feel like a ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ and ‘To whom it concerns’ is just plain lazy.
- Show your writing skills — Graphic design is as much about words as it is pictures.
- Share something about ‘you’ — Don’t feel pressure to pretend to be someone you are not, it never works. If you are clever—be clever, if you are not don’t pretend to be.
- Considered flattery — Know your audience and their work, show you know your stuff and theirs too. Don’t overdo it—it can be scary.
- Don’t use Microsoft Word — Most creative professionals put a lot of effort into avoiding Word wherever possible.
Self promotion —
- Beware of gimmicks—they generally don’t work. Be smart and creative with the medium or idea.
- Only show your best work — Show the work that represents what you want to do.
- Make your portfolio site lean and fast — Keep your project presentation simple and considered.
- Avoid gloss — Don’t waste hard earned cash or savings on an expensive or soulless promotional item or portfolio.
- Consider analogue — Make something special, show you have a love for your craft. Aim to get it on the office notice board.
What we look for…
- Communication skills — How you talk about what you do is as important as what you do.
- Curiosity and energy — Show your inventiveness, resourcefulness and fearlessness.
- Ambition without cockiness — We need team players not soloists.
- Pro-activeness — Your ability to take initiative will be appreciated.
- Great work — This is a given but not always the first on the list.
Once you are in…
- Don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions — They can be a good route to good ideas.
- Be enthusiastic — Be prepared that every task may not match up to your expectations.
- Accept criticism well — It’s all part of what we do.
- Be professional — Take your cues from your co-workers.
- Make the most of it — Make good contacts and good friends.
Some tips you really shouldn’t ignore…
- Things you learn are not always cast in stone, you will get conflicting opinion. Both can be wrong, and both true.
- Realise that you are learning a trade, craft matters more than most admit.
- Helvetica is great—but it won’t change the world.
- Red, white, black always go together.
- Everyone is just making it up as they go along, but all good design is rooted in good thinking and good understanding.