How to Secure Graphic Design Internships

graphic design internships

Graphic Design Internships

We're surrounded by graphic design at all times. Just look around you to get a feel for just how many career options you have. Billboards, magazines, newspapers, social media, websites, product packaging, logos, labels, brochures, posters, emails, and so on. Graphic designers have put together everything that has text, symbols, and images. Think about what you are interested in when considering your career options,

Which designs fascinate you? Who are your heroes in the industry? What do you see yourself working on? If you are interested in how things are made, the manufacturing industry is a good bet. If politics is often on your mind, then you might want to consider working for a political party. The advertising industry is also hungry for graphic designers so that you can find opportunities there. Graphic design internships are often a right way to enter any of these industries.

Why graphic design internships are important

Graphic design internships are a great way to get a foot in the door. You have to have specific qualifications and some work experience to become a graphic designer. Completing a bachelor's degree in graphic design is just the first step towards becoming a fully fledged graphic designer. A degree is just a piece of paper that says you have gone to university. You will quickly discover that employers care less about what it means on your diploma and more about what work you can produce. That is where your portfolio comes in handy, as this shows your prospective employer what they want to know. Can you do the job? Are you creative? Can you bring something new to the company? These are the questions you need to answer.

You will probably have a portfolio of projects you worked at during your time at university. However, these works may or may not have been used in a real-world setting. It is better for your job prospects if you can showcase a portfolio with work that has been used for real campaigns or projects. That is where graphic design internships will help you out. During an internship, you will be working with experienced graphic designers, and assist them on their projects. At the end of the internship, you will thus have a portfolio that includes work clients have been willing to pay money for. That demonstrates that you can create something of value to others.

graphic design internships
Graphic design internships are a great way to get a foot in the door.

What do you need to qualify for graphic design internships?

If you are considering applying for some graphic design internships, chances are you already know a thing or two about graphic design. If you have attended university and completed a degree, you will already have many of the tools required to do an internship. They will expect to have sketching and communication skills from you. Employers will also expect you to be familiar with Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. You will not be expected to be an experienced professional — otherwise, you would not be applying for an internship. So don't sweat it.

Where do you find graphic design internships?

The best place to find graphic design internships is in your area of study. It is very likely that your school or university already has connections to several local graphic design agencies. Some of your school's alumni could have even started these agencies. That means that they know what to expect when they source talent from your university.

Your teachers will also have a network to draw on, so making friends with some of them is a good idea. If they have taught some of the students, who have gone on to form their agencies, even better. Make sure that you get a letter of recommendation form one of your teachers, as this will help with your application. Personal recommendations are great for making yourself stand out as a candidate. Finally, your school will most likely have access to online resources where you can learn more about your options.

Research the companies offering graphic design internships

Compile a list of companies that offer graphic design internships. Look at websites like Internships.com and InternMatch.com. Remember not to limit yourself to graphic design agencies. As mentioned, there are opportunities in other areas, such as screen printers, manufacturers, and media companies. Make the list and find out which companies are a good fit. Take some time to research the companies by reading about them on their website.

Start with the About Us section, and look at their Employment section as well. These sections will tell you something about who runs the company, what their philosophy is, who they have worked with, and what opportunities they offer their employees. Learning about a potential employer also prepares you for the interview stage. You will be expected to have some questions about the company, and researching them beforehand will be invaluable at this stage.

What you need to know when applying for graphic design internships

When you have identified the graphic design internships that you want to ask for it is time to put all your assets together. You will need to prepare an impressive CV and cover letter, just like when using for any other position. Your application packet should of course also include your portfolio. It is also crucial that you tailor the application pack to each employer to make sure that you stand out. Believe it or not, but most people can tell if something personalizes to them, or just a copy and paste job.

You will most likely only have the student projects in your portfolio, so it is essential to make the most of it. The right idea is to include a short description of each piece in your portfolio. That can give the employer insight into your creative process and way of thinking. Again, make sure that the sections are relevant to the industry your prospective employer is in. Time to send off the applications and wait for the response.

graphic design internships
Most graphic design internships will require you to know your fonts.

Remember to be professional during the interview

Expect to be inundated with emails and calls because of your excellent application packet. Now that you have been invited to a few meetings, you will have to maintain the same level of professionalism that got you this far. That means being on time, dressing well, and looking sharp at the interview. If there is a casual dress code at the office or workplace, you will quickly find out and can adapt accordingly. It is always better to overdress than underdress. Preparing yourself is most important. Research the company more in-depth, so you know what they are working on, who their clients are, and if there are any relevant news stories about them.

Make sure you time everything well

The timing for your application needs to be right. Most companies go through busy seasons and more quiet periods. It is not in the company or your interest for you to join them as an intern during their most active period. It is always good to experience a little bit of pressure, but too much of it won't benefit either party. You will want to get the most out of your internship, so if the company is trying to meet an important deadline, interns might not be prioritized. You can make a good impression by asking them about their projects and deadline for them.  Also, you can be helping yourself at the same time.

Make sure that you get the most out of your graphic design internships

Demonstrate yourself in an impressive way when you receive internship offer. However, not all companies equally gear towards taking on an intern. That is important to suss out right at the beginning, to ensure that you get the most out of your internship. The point of a graphic design internship is to gain experience as a graphic designer. Don’t get afraid if anyone asking you to make coffees and sort papers. Just bring it up. Don't do it in a confrontational way, but try to sell it, so that is in the company's interest that you develop your skills. You could be a future employee.

Network with your colleagues

Now that you have secured an internship, you have your foot in the door. But internships are not permanent positions, so you need to make the most out of your time at the company. Regardless of whether the internship is a few weeks or six months, you should make an effort to network with your colleagues. The more connections you make in the industry, the better your employment prospects are. It is even better if you can persuade one of the company's employees to become your mentor.

Having someone who is more experienced teach you the ropes will save you a lot of time and energy. Never hesitate to ask advice to peoples. Because many people like this. Networking is not always secure, but it is a necessity to progress your career. Don't underestimate anyone in the company, as you don't know where they will be in a few years. Get to know as many people as you can during your internship.

 

Expand your portfolio with graphic design internships

A graphic design internship can be a great way to expand your portfolio. That is particularly important if you only have student projects in your collection. Having a portfolio piece that shows you have worked on real projects with paying clients is invaluable. Your future employers will love that you have a proven track record of delivering a quality project on time. Ask the company you are interning for if you can use the plans you have assisted on in your portfolio. While you are at it, don't be afraid to ask them for a letter of recommendation to go with the portfolio sample.

Stay connected with your employer

It is essential to keep in contact with the company you interned. First of all to keep them as part of your professional network. You never know what opportunities might pop up in the future. They will ask you to join them for other projects if you will impress them with your efforts. But they would probably also want to know how you fare in your career. If you do well, they would want to see that they had a hand in helping you succeed.

Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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