Tips on Landing an Internship
Sadly, the day has come where my amazing internship with the designers at Cleveland design firm, Go Media ends. But before I go, I want to pass on helpful advice to any designers out there who are also looking to obtain their dream internship. There are lots of different things that come into play when applying for internships, two of which include your resume and cover letter. So whether you’re looking to land your own internship at Go Media, or at another awesome company, keep these tips in mind when preparing your materials!
Add Relevant Experience
Now I know what you’re thinking. How am I supposed to get experience when I need experience to get experience? But that’s not what this tip is about. Relevant experience can be relevant in many ways. Maybe you were the manager of your local grocery store where you picked up leadership skills. Or maybe you had a retail job where you regularly collaborated with team members and customers to produce high-quality products. All of these things help attribute to your worth as a potential intern or employee!
It’s all about selling yourself and believing in yourself. Also, it’s much easier to get experience first from being involved on your school’s campus, being a part of different organizations, or volunteering. These types of activities are crucial in building an impressive resume and getting your foot in the door for future opportunities!
Use Action Verbs
Now that you’ve listed some relevant experience on your resume, you need to effectively convey to your future employer what you did at that job. The best way to do this is use action/power verbs, rather than passive or weak verbs. Using words like, helped, assisted, contributed, worked, etc. are very vague and don’t help your future employer understand your duties. How did you help or assist with the project? In what ways did you contribute? Better words to use include, designed, collaborated, proposed, initiated, resolved, etc.
And if you’re having trouble coming up with your own power verbs, you can find a helpful list of them here.
Keep it to One Page
This is always a general rule to follow when building your resume. Unless you have 10+ years of experience in the field, you should keep your resume to 1 page, and even if you do have 10+ years of experience, hiring managers would probably appreciate you condensing your most relevant and important material to a single page.
And you may be asking yourself, but Rachel… how am I supposed to sell myself when I can’t fit all of my experience and achievements on one page? Well you can! It might take more work to refine your experience and details rather than just plug everything you’ve ever done in your entire life on your resume, but it’s a crucial step to making your resume effective.
Remember, a resume is an overview of all of your relevant experience and qualifications. As you gain more and more experience, you’ll want to refine your resume and delete older and less-relevant information. The company you’re applying to might get hundreds of resumes and cover letters every day, which means these hiring managers don’t have time to read every carefully placed word on your resume. They need a quick, effective overview so they can immediately determine if you’re a candidate they’re interested in. They don’t have time to read through your 2-3 page resume.
Create a Clean and Simple Layout
The point of your resume is to convey important information to the person receiving it. This means it needs to have a clear hierarchy and be easy to read and digest. I get it, you’re a designer and you want to voice your creativity everywhere you are, and you still can! There’s nothing wrong with adding personality to your resume and brand, actually, I encourage it! But I don’t encourage you to get so creative with your resume that it’s hard to understand and follow.
Remember, a lot of the time, your resume won’t even be going to a designer. It will be going to a hiring manager who will determine if you make the next cut. Save your beautiful ideas and designs for your portfolio.
And keep in mind to keep your color palette limited. I recommend going B&W or using 1 color. Remember, your resume may look beautiful on screen, or beautiful printed on your handpicked paper at your favorite printer, but the company you are applying to will probably print your resume out on cheap paper from a low-quality office printer that turns your rich, navy blue to a pale blue-ish grey (or they may just print it in B&W to begin with).
2. Cover Letter
Personally Tailor Each Cover Letter
When writing cover letters, you don’t want to have one general cover letter that you fire off to every company you apply to. Instead, create a unique, personalized cover letter to each specific company. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a general template that you base most of your cover letters off of, but they should all ultimately be different.
This involves researching each company. Go to their website and read about their history. Learn more about who they are and their values. You can then use this research to write a cover letter that better explains exactly why you believe you’re such an incredible fit for them specifically.
Read the Position Details
This one might seem obvious, but it’s incredibly important. The company you’re applying to will probably have a very clear job listing of what they are currently seeking, what skills they are looking for and even the type of personality or work ethic they want. They lay out exactly what they are looking for, and it’s your job to connect the dots between what they’re looking for and how that pertains to your experience.
Not only will they be excited that someone has so much relevant experience that matches perfectly with their job description, but they will just be happy that someone took the time to really read the job description and understand what they are looking for.
Don’t Forget to Focus on Them
Sure, a cover letter is obviously supposed to focus on you and your talents/experience, but it should also explain why you will be an asset to them. Don’t focus on how a position at their company would be beneficial to you, focus on how you would be beneficial to their company. You want them to read your cover letter and think that they need you as an asset, not just that you seem to be a solid, dependable candidate.
All in all, you just need to be confident, passionate and eager. Apply to a lot of different places, take any negativity or failure as a learning experience, and continue to grow as a designer and as a person.
And once you do land the internship of your dreams, don’t forget to soak up every little bit of the experience you can! As my time comes to an end at Go Media, I can’t help but express how much I’ve learned and grown as a designer. The people at Go Media are truly one of a kind, and I’ll always be so appreciative of the time and energy they gave towards teaching and mentoring myself.
Time Saving Shortcuts
Howdy. This is week five of my series, and here are three more tips. I hope you enjoy them!
1. Time saving keyboard shortcuts: Really, every shortcut I learn makes using illustrator much more natural, but here are two biggies: 1. Ctrl+F pastes directly in front of the copied object 2. Ctrl+B pastes directly behind the copied object. These two shortcuts are really essential in Illustrator, especially when using the pathfinder. Ahh, the pathfinder… Ps- here is the whole list of keyboard shortcuts from Adobe: Keyboard Shortcuts
2. Learning how to use the Pathfinder I had no idea what the Pathfinder did before my intership with Cleveland web design company, Go Media, but I realized very rapidly that I needed to figure it out. My second night back home I sat down with the Illustrator, opened up ‘help’, started figuring out the powerful pathfinder. The Pathfinder can combine shapes, cut one shape out from another, keep only the shape where two other shapes overlap – and so much more. If you’ve not exploited the power of the Pathfinder to do more stuff with less effort, now is a great time to learn it.
3. A Richer Gradient: 1. Make a regular gradient 2. Copy the gradient and Paste in Front using Ctrl+F 3. Change the pasted gradient to a solid color that is slightly lighter than the shade in the middle of the gradient. 4. Move the solid color to the back with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+[ 5. Change the blending mode of the gradient to multiply from the drop down menu in the Transparency pallete. The result is a gradient with richer, and probably darker tones than the original. Many of the technical tips in this series are pretty simple, but when combined and applied they represent the technical tricks I’ve learned at Go Media to make things look better, faster. And there is still more to come! Till then, happy designing.
Heyyy. The lessons at Cleveland Design firm, Go Media are abundant, and here are a few more that have been kindly passed along to me by everyone here.
When working for a client or a friend, try very hard to decide what is most important to him or her, and deliver it. Is it timeliness? Rock bottom costs? Nailing the look? If you are confused, communicate.
Soak up the company culture. I’m very lucky to be at Go Media, which values experimentation, progress, quality work, and getting the job done. Once you figure out what your company culture values, be proactive about adding value, even (especially) if it requires you to step outside of your job description. (***Note: If you happen to be stuck in a negative company culture, don’t follow this advice but fight tooth and nail for positive change!).
While I’ve learned a lot of practical and technical things at here in Cleveland with design firm Go Media, I’ve also learned some more general, but valuable lessons. In my first couple of posts I’d like to share them with you.
1. Swallow your pride / Be open to criticism
Sometimes this first lesson comes naturally, and other times it does not. Yes, design is subjective, but as an intern I have broken some basic rules on many occasions. Its good practice to not be offended by criticism because it often holds valuable lessons. Don’t have access to awesome mentors like those at Go Media? Here are some ways to get more from criticism:
- Don’t Rationalize: “But I’m only 19”, “I just started using Illustrator a month ago”, and “But business cards are boring” don’t really matter on a professional level (which is what you’re aiming for, right?).
- Instead find the reason for your rationalization – if you feel you lack experience then do some free freelancing. If you aren’t up to speed with certain tools of the trade, take a class or wait for Go Media to release some awesome video tutorials. Be proactive about improving in your weakest areas, don’t just exercise your strong points.
- Wait: Does your latest design make you giddy when you glance at it? Put it aside and look again in a couple of weeks. You might notice certain elements that would create more unity if changed slightly. Become your own critic by removing the bias from your own eye with time.
- Just Do It: Even if you don’t agree with criticism you’ve received on one of your designs, just follow it anyway. At the very least you’ll expand your horizons of “what looks good”, and most of the time you’ll find the recommendation really does help!
2. Make the most of your failures:
- This revelation is straight from the Go Media guy himself – Bill Beachy. Bill has taught me that each failure is a gem of experience and a sign of progress. Don’t dwell in past failures, but don’t ignore them either. Each one should sharpen your eye for detail, help you avoid future mistakes, and help you be proactive about creating good work.
3. Presentation is important:
After all, isn’t this what design is all about? Presentation – of anything (information, emotion, etc). So when presenting your designs to a client or applying for a job be sure to spit polish every aspect of the presentation process. Do you have matching stationary? Is your cover letter nicely formatted and addressed to proper recipient? If you have trouble remembering these presentation ‘musts’ make a checklist and file it.
Brand yourself. Spend an afternoon coming up with a killer monogram or simple logotype for your name. Keep the color scheme consistent with the rest of your presentation materials, such as portfolio covers and stationary. Showing you can create and present your own materials will convince others that you’re the one for the job.
Check out the user showcase recently added to the Go MediaZine and post your self-branding projects there. If yours is a model of awesome self-marketing it could end up here in the Go MediaZine!
There are more lessons and other practical tips to come, so check back. Till then, happy designing.