Finding an internship can be a daunting task, especially in the competitive industry of design and technology. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself in time-vortexes; you accidentally spend about 4 hours applying to 50 different internships on LinkedIn. If you’re exactly like me, you only do this activity from 12AM to 4AM, and you are applying for positions you’re ridiculously unqualified for, in places like London and Tokyo.
So how did I go from faceless clicking through LinkedIn, to a real, face-to-face, internship doing exactly what I want to do?
It all boiled down to two things: A good portfolio and solid networking.
I wouldn’t have obtained this incredible experience at Goatsocial had it not been for one small connection. While clicking through LinkedIn, I noticed a recent graduate from my university had the following listed under her profile: UX/UI Designer; Vancouver, BC. All my future fantasy business cards had that exact title right under my name. After sending Eva an embarrassingly gushy facebook message, we were soon meeting for coffee where I begged her for both life advice and internship advice.
Eva was incredibly helpful in telling me about the industry, where to start, what programs I should learn, and ways to make connections. Over coffee, I got to hear her fawn about her workplace, Goatsocial. The type of work they did was exactly what I wanted to be doing, but what I was most impressed by was the way she described the people. The board game nights, inside jokes, and collaboration she recounted to me sounded less like a “tech-industry-workplace” and more like a creative family- a reality I didn’t even realize existed.
I realized then, and have reaffirmed consistently ever since- it’s all about the people. The secret to not only finding an internship, but more importantly, finding one that works for you, all boils down to the people. Learning how to network is invaluable. Reach out to anyone you know in the industry, no matter how little you know them. It’s so easy to send a message just saying hello. You can ask them to meet for coffee, for advice about the industry, mentorship, or if they know of any opportunities. The worst case scenario would be to not hear back, so what’s stopping you? Creating personal relationships will move you further than anything else.
One easy way to do this is to draft a basic message that you can use as a template when contacting agencies or individuals in the industry. Make sure to introduce yourself, and then let them know why you are contacting them early in the message, before you go on to describe your skills or specific questions. The most important part of any networking message is to make sure that it’s personalized and genuine. If you can find the name of the person you are contacting, always try to use that, and speak from the heart. It’s important to remain professional, but if you can let your personality show through your message will be more memorable and stand out.
There are a thousand ways to find internships. Put yourself in situations that might be uncomfortable. Go to design meetups, join Dribble and Behance, make connections on Twitter and Instagram, there are many different options. But most importantly, make connections with people. It'll get you a long way in any industry.
Kika Macfarlane — July 19th