Interships in Design
Many college student fail to realize how valuable internships really are, and how they are for the betterment of their future. During my freshman year at Parsons School of Design, I landed a non paid internship which only lasted 4 months because I immediately landed a freelance gig at L’Oreal Cosmetics and Skincare while, must I reiterate, while still in school. How did I do this? Well, while interning, I also managed to work at the computer lab at Parsons. Yes all work and no sleep. That was the hustle!! I was called into one of the computer class sessions to assist a teacher. The class consisted of professionals only. When I realized the great opportunity that I had in front of my eyes to network, I ceased it!! During recess, I approached the Art Director of L’Oreal and asked her if she was hiring for any interns. Two weeks later, she informed me that they did not have an internship program, but that she could hire me as a freelancer for $10 an hour!!!! I was in heaven at that time!!! I worked so hard at that job that the Creative DIrector soon had me participate in meetings with all the executives. A year later, I gave my notice and they tried to offer for me to stay. When I graduated, although I had been gone for quite some time, they remembered me and offered me a full time gig. They said that I was one of the hardest workers that they had ever met!! I turned the job down only because I needed something more stimulating and challenging. This is a lesson learned. ”You get recognized when you work your hardest even if you are not getting paid.”
Right after graduation, I realized that I was 3 steps ahead of most of my peers. I had the experience of a professional who had been in the field for 3 years. Most of the graduates where struggling to land non-paid internships even after college. The fortunate thing for those that were close to me was that I got them jobs with my connections and past employers. Really, its all who you know and where you place yourself. And if you are bold enough to seize a golden opportunity for success, you will win. I have seen many folks timid and insecure about their place in the design world. I say “Throw that insecurity out the window and let the professionals know that you want to learn from them!! And that you will do whatever it takes to work and learn!” Employers LOVE that. They love to see someone hungry and not complain about late hours or too much work. I know I did!
While Creative Director at Sean John / Bad Boy Entertainment, it was very difficult to find an intern who really wanted to work and learn. Most were lazy or even got offended when I asked them to get me coffee so that I could focus on my stressful workload and constant hustle back and forth to meetings. So I had to change my game plan in hiring interns. When I found one really good intern who worked extremely well with me, I had her interview other interns for me!! She acted as my executive assistant. Man, she was awesome!!! She schooled the others on what to do and what not to do. Those that were loyal to me, I empowered them. I connected them to ALL my contacts as well as educated them on how to succeed in the rough road of entertainment. I became a mentor for all those who worked for me. The excitement for me was to be able to help others as they helped me. I spoke to them as if they were on my level. I embraced them into my world. Although most employers are not like me, interns should not get discouraged. If you show your loyalty and dedication, your employer will one day empower you. And if he/she doesn’t, well that just means that you your employer isn’t vibing well with you.
Its important to make your employer’s job easier not harder! Its okay to ask questions but not in the middle of the day. The best times would be if your employer got into work early or she/he decides to work late. Always be 3 steps ahead of your employer. If she/he asks you to do things twice, say goodbye to your possible future promotion. If you do things that your employer has not yet asked of you, you are running the game well!!! Organize her/him!!! And be professional please. Even in entertainment, being professional is a must, which means don’t be late!
Intern designers should take it upon themselves on their free time to take a project that is not asked of them and design it. Show it to the creative director and get a free critic. You never know, if your work is good enough, it might be used. And if it isn’t, your employer will truly see your dedication to learning.
I am always looking for interns. And know many others who are looking as well. If you are one that would like to be put on, email your resume to email@example.com.