My Path to Finding Internships

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.



State of Design Education

I was recently made aware of this article which talks about the state of Design education.

What do you think of this article and the state of Design Education?

Working with an Art Director – The Process

Kris asked me to do a walk through of the process that goes into a project for my internship. Since we just finalized and sent this booklet-mailer to print today I thought I’d post about it!

Project Background: This is a 16 page booklet that is going to be mailed to about 40,000 addresses. The booklet is a promotion for the ministry’s (Global Awakening) largest event of the year coming up in October. We needed to stay within the branding that had been created for the event, but create a fresh and exciting mailer.

The Process: It started with a meeting with my Art Director. We talked about what we wanted to accomplish with this piece and he showed me some inspiration for ideas. These images sparked a brainstorming session where we came up with the basic idea for design elements and style. Check out the inspiration page in the gallery below.

After we had come up with our look and feel, we had to decide the layout of all the pages and information. For this step we did quick sketches and used sticky notes to play with page order. This is also where we decided the initial layout of each page and it’s design elements.

Once I had the first draft done my art director and I went through it and talked about things that needed to be changed, added and how to maximize the layout of each page. Once we had everything in place where we wanted it, it was time for the piece to go under the dreaded proofing phase. This phase is where we have to defend our design choices and compromise when necessary to make sure the piece fit the need of the department head who was requesting the design. Once important thing I’ve learned is that even if you have an amazingly creative and artistic layout, if it does not fit the client’s needs, you have not done your job as a designer. Graphic Design isn’t just art, it’s also functional and needs to serve both in order to make it a good design.

So after many proofs and many small edits and changes, walking away for the weekend and looking at it with fresh eyes, making more edits and changes we finally have a finished product! Here it is…click on each image for the full picture and a description. If you have any questions about this process feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to write you back!

This is the summer intern signing off for now!