An internship is a valuable way to get hands-on experience while you’re still learning in a classroom setting. It’s a method for applying your learning to real world situations and creating a learning environment for yourself without all the pressure of a first job.
Where to Search
Companies that are invested in new talent will maintain a relationship with design schools so they are able to take on interns regularly. Often they want the most talented candidates to work in their company to learn. These internships can develop into full-time employment after college. Contact the proper department at your school for information about internships.
Many employers will advertise openings for interns. Search your local newspaper’s classified advertisements. Check out online professional or trade magazines and forums for listings of intern openings. Linkedin is a great place to find listings of intern openings too.
How to Approach an Employer
If you have a dream company that you’d like to intern with, don’t be afraid to contact them directly. Call and find out if they have an internship program and ask who you would need to speak to about the program. Even if they don’t have one, you could send a letter detailing your skills and ask if they’d be willing to take on an intern. Highlight how it would be beneficial for them to hire you on as an intern.
When you find out the name of the person who hires interns, address this person in your correspondence. Create an online portfolio that you can refer employers to when you contact them. This is great to have for your job search after graduation as well. Don’t send them to a basic Flickr account or your personal blog. Create a professional product that employers can view to see your creativity. Send a cover letter along with your CV when you contact employers.
What Do Employers Want?
Employers want bright, highly motivated people who will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to their company. When interns perform tasks in pursuit of advanced learning, it frees other employees to take on more creative projects. It’s a proven way to evaluate a future candidate without extra cost to the employer.
Take Advantage of the Opportunity
Interns want to participate in the daily operations of the company. Most employers know this and will give interns real work that will help them learn. In some rare instances, employers push the intern aside as a nuisance or forget about finding the intern work. The student must be proactive in this case. Don’t be a pest, but show your willingness to work and learn. Don’t let them forget you have real value to add to the company.
Persistence and Drive
You might need to contact a dozen companies before you find one that will offer you an internship, but this is the first step on the path for the rest of your career. It will be great experience when it comes to transitioning to searching for full-time paid employment. Don’t be afraid to be persistent. Follow up whenever you send a cover letter and CV, so you can bring your name and information back into the person’s mind.
An internship is an important step between school and employment. It’s extremely helpful for students to receive experience and be able to add the work to their work history. This will make it much easier to find employment after school.