Here is one of our Seniors discussing how she successfully found several internships during her studies here at Belhaven.
Heading off the Beaten Path…
Just some advice on finding internships as a graphic design student through personal experience.
First off, anything is possible with the Lord. God provided ways for me to gain experience in what I love to do as a designer without lucky charms or a car (not even the means to borrow one). The bare bones of finding an internship is really sniffing out opportunities and pouncing on those opportunities.
I’ve found an internship with The Imaginary Company (a small studio in the Belhaven neighborhood) simply by chatting with some gents and gals hanging out at Sneaky Beans when I asked if any of them knew the location of the studio and was given the contact information from a buddy of one of the workers. Sure enough a phone call later, a quick interview later, and I’m set to work as an intern. The experience I had was invaluable, unique, and I discovered a range of tasks designers do, with pay. No job was ever boring, the only downside was working with two cats pawing over my keyboard and batting their tails in my face. I’m not an outgoing personality, but being assertive, articulate, and focused are necessary for any designer. If the desire is there, if the hunger is there, and if you want to work, there is always a way (that’s ethical and sans spec) that’s, really, just a phone call or a hand shake away.
Another opportunity I had was over the summer, in my junior year. I simply checked out downtown Denver galleries and found Plus Gallery. All I had to do was write a neat, simple, to the point one page essay on what I could offer, my skills, and so forth as an intern. A call and an interview later and I was able to create the seasonal art gallery events booklet for the Denver Arts Dealers Association. Plus Gallery designed the booklet and hosted the project twice annually. No pay but I was able to keep as many copies of my work, keep the original files, and made one contact through the gallery owner that led to the Denver art world. If there is no pay, outline in an agreement or contract of some sort about the terms of what you need as experience, even if it’s just contacts and a letter of recommendation for a start to a career down the road.
Generally, interviews were short & somewhat informal. You’re working on someone else’s precious time so a PDF portfolio, snippets, samples, etc. with something intelligent to say will do fine, but looking spiffy, normal, and sane makes a difference too. Know where you’re applying and whom you’ll most likely be speaking to. Both these cases required business casual which means pants that are not jeans and a collared shirt for guys and maybe a skirt and blouse for the ladies.
Plus, as a given, and out of consideration and courtesy, ALWAYS WRITE A hand written or well designed if your penmanship tanks, THANK YOU note or card before and after your internship. This is professional and important, not to ensure anything for you (though that’s possible), but to show that you house the Holy Spirit and a person touched by the grace of God had better, and at the very least, show some appreciation and gratitude. Trust me, nothing you do is without God’s hand leading out to yours. Your health, talents, gifts, all of those things encompassing your life are by his provision. Kiss that ego goodbye. Far away…
One point that is important to know is the Lord honors honest work and working towards a goal that expands his kingdom. Each person is unique with a set of talents, gifts, and skills, even if it’s just one, God will use you for his purpose. Every opportunity is never too mundane, stupid, or lowly enough. Nothing is ever lame enough to pass up, because no matter the task given, a Christian knows God watches and speaks behind the scenes. Those you meet, create for, and work with are people God loves and needs you as an ambassador to spread that love.
Lastly, a designer’s arsenal does not live on mad Photoshop skills or killer app layouts alone but intuition, assertiveness, and proactive behavior are just as important of weaponry choice like comfort with the Pathfinder tool(s). A Christian designer applies those three because it’s not about the job or you but about building relationships and glorifying Jesus Christ.