6 Smashing Tips to Stand Out in your Graphic Design Internship

Posted by | September 20, 2013 | Tips for Interns

So you’ve finally landed that graphic design internship you wanted, congratulations! Half the job is done. Now it’s time for the harder part – standing out and making sure you’re a memorable intern, in the best way possible, of course.

Read the rest of this article to find out just how to be the best Graphic Design Intern you can be.

1. Treat it like a real job.

This one is pretty self-explanatory and is useful for everyone, not just graphic design interns, obviously. You might not get paid much (or at all) but you are learning a lot. Approach this position like you would a real job – you’d want to do your best so you’d be kept on, right? Put your best effort in your designs and they will speak for your skills.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I don’t think I need to tell you how important first impressions are, you already know that. But do you know what always impressed my bosses? Asking questions and being proactive. Don’t just design what they tell you, ask questions about it. Knowing what the specific aim of your graphic is, what the intended audiences are, helps your ideas flow. Don’t think that asking questions is a sign of not knowing what you’re doing (there’s nothing wrong with that, after all you landed this internship to learn!) and think of it instead in terms of being curious about the project.

3. Follow the design brief, but improve it if you can.

The beauty (and pain) of being a graphic design intern is that there are so many creative ways in which you can design your assigned task. Follow the design brief, but if you think there is a way in which the design can be improved, by all means suggest it. While your idea might not be used straight away, you can always use that design or method later on. Keep in mind what your employer wants to say with the design, but don’t forget to think about it how a consumer would. In the end, the design is only half as good as the clients it brings in.

4. Ask permission to use your internship design in your personal portfolio.

I’ve already mentioned that being proactive is always seen as a positive trait. Take it one step further and ask if you can use the designs in your personal graphic design portfolio. It will tell your employer that you’re taking this position seriously enough that you’re not afraid to attach your name what you design while you’re interning there.

5. Use your network to grow.

Networking is very ‘in’ right now. Like it or not, a good chunk of your career is all about the people you know. Don’t use your network just for job opportunities and rubbing elbows – learn from the people you know! Your new internship puts you in a position where you meet many graphic designers, don’t be afraid to ask them to mentor you. Or, if that seems like too much, find out if they wouldn’t mind talking shop with you over lunch sometime. It’s a win-win situation for you: you learn new things, you get to network and you have the opportunity to leave a strong (and hopefully favourable) impression in your colleague’s mind by asking for their expertise.

Social networking is a great tool to take advantage of to further your connections with other designers, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

6. Be responsible

That’s the tricky part. Asking for more responsibility is a sign of a good employee, right? Well, an even better employee knows what they can handle and plans accordingly. Don’t take on too many projects, only to have to tell your boss that you’re going to be late with delivering what you’ve promised. Gage your workload and act accordingly. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than vice versa. Who will be seen as more responsible: the person who delivers their project on time because they know how to manage their time and resources or someone who takes on a myriad of projects and doesn’t complete them? It’s a no brainer.

It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Know what you can do, ask for help with what you don’t know, improve where you can.

So what do you think of my tips? Or better yet, what tips would you have for graphic design interns who want to land permanent jobs? Tell me in the comments!


— Author: Lena Zwolak

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