How to land that summer design internship
The application process can be overwhelming, but a resume is a good place to start. Since we are designers, I recommend putting a little extra effort into this step and creating your resume in InDesign. Think about creating vector graphics to represent your experience and skill-set. Make it interesting, but keep it simple. A clean and easily digestible resume with a unique layout says a lot.
Don’t overlook the paper!
We are designers which means we should have an eye for detail. Spend the extra couple of dollars and print on a nice resume paper. If anything, the feeling of handing over a piece of paper a little thicker than your grade school math homework is sure to boost your confidence levels.
In my opinion, the portfolio is the hardest thing to get the hang of. And because we are designers, getting this right is more important than your resume. In contrast to a resume, your portfolio doesn’t necessarily show the same thing as other classmates or applicants. In fact, your portfolio is probably going to look entirely different from every other example you will ever see and that’s okay! The key is finding a way to tell YOUR story. Another thing to note is that you will never be done with your portfolio. Like EVER. It is important to get comfortable with this. And while this is true, make sure that your portfolio is up-to-date and as great as can be before starting the application process. Here are some things to keep in mind …
- Make sure your portfolio is clean! They say employers may take as little as 30 seconds to review your entire portfolio, so make sure that it is easily digestible!
- Tell a story – Your portfolio should be able to speak for itself without any explanation.
- Align your work with the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a packaging firm, be sure to include at least one packaging and/or graphic project that represents your skill-set well.
The Social Footprint
Aside from your portfolio, be sure that the employer has another place to look for your work. This is your chance to highlight pieces of your work that didn’t quite make it in the portfolio. Again, this should accurately present who you are, your skill-set, and tell your story.
Most importantly, take the time to review how you are perceived through social media and delete any unwanted content that may present you in a negative light.
The Follow Up
So you’ve found the place and you’ve applied…Great!…so has everyone else. Now, follow up! Employers love to know that you are interested, so tell them!
This step is so important and it can’t be stressed enough! I have never received a job without following up on the position.
So, what does it mean to follow up?
Asking the employer if they have received your application is great, but it is not enough. A true follow up should show genuine interest in the company. Tell them WHY you are interested in working there and why you think you might be a good fit. In addition, it may be a good idea to do your research and follow them on social media. This way it won’t be as much of a blind conversation and instead you’ll have some background knowledge to keep the conversation flowing. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have any, ask them! Nothing shows interest better than questions!
Finally, thank them! Time is valuable and if they took time out of their day to talk to you, make sure they know you appreciated it.
No response? That’s okay!
The work place is a busy environment and it’s likely that your first attempt to get a hold of someone will be unsuccessful. Don’t give up after the first try. You must keep in mind that you are NOT their first priority and reluctantly, they may have simply forgotten about you. Don’t be the crazy person that calls every hour, but certainly try again and don’t be afraid to leave a message!
When it comes to the interview, you’ll likely be asked to talk about yourself. In some way or another you’re going to answer the generic, “so tell me a little bit about yourself.” Have something prepared so that you don’t ramble on about how you broke your arm in your 7th grade talent show. Try to mold your answer into something that suggests you are a good addition to the team. Most importantly, be authentic. Not only are you being assessed on your skills, but you are also being judged on how well you might integrate into the company culture. The best advice to take here is to relax. Be yourself! And don’t be afraid to hold a conversation exceeding company topics. Find something you have in common with the employer? Take it and roll with it! Common interests are the easiest way to form a lasting impression!
Confidence is key
Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it til’ you make it?” This actually helps! We tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on other people. And this being said, you are much greater than you perceive yourself to be. If you made it this far, it means that you’ve done something right to show your potential. And if you don’t believe it yet, fake it!
Question, question, question!
Again, questions are the best way to show interest. Always go into an interview with a few questions prepared. I like to ask hypothetical questions like, “if I were to get this position, what would my responsibilities include?” An interview works both ways… Not only are they determining if you are a good fit for the company, but you are also responsible for judging if they are a company you truly want to work for.
Again, don’t forget to follow up! This step is still just as important as before the interview. Odds are that their busy workday has already caused them to forget about you. Remind them that you are still interested and look forward to hearing from them again soon. And as always, thank them for their time to meet with you!
The application process can be stressful and it is unlikely that you will find success every time. That’s okay! View every experience as an opportunity to grow. At the very least, practice is just as valuable as success. With every experience, you are better prepared than you were before!
Thanks for reading!