Benefits of a Graphic Design Internship
There are many, many benefits of completing a graphic design internship. Internships can not only help students get jobs more easily out of college but also help them learn their trade better. An internship will teach students how to be a graphic designer in a professional setting and be an invaluable part of their training. Below are some of the ways an internship can launch a student’s graphic design career.
It Gives Students Experience
One of the most important benefits of a graphic design internship is that they provide students with hands-on experience. Graphic designers need to be proficient in Adobe Photoshop as well as a number of other design programs. Students will work with these programs in most internships and learn how to utilize them in a professional setting. Hard skills are not the only skills a graphic design intern picks up. Internships of any kind also help develop soft skills, such as communication skills, the ability to work well with clients and coworkers, leadership abilities and more. These experiences are not only useful in a student’s professional life but also help them grow as people.
A Professional Portfolio
For graphic designers, as well as other creative professionals, a portfolio of past work is incredibly important. In fact, your portfolio might be more important for securing future work than other factors combined. Graphic designers often get work because a client or employer is impressed by their previous work or likes their style. Professional samples created during an internship allow students to prove their abilities to anyone who wishes to see. Students must be sure to ask permission to display work done during an internship in a professional portfolio. The copyright for the work likely belongs to the company that commissioned it, not to the student. Failure to do this could result in potential legal trouble.
It Helps Land A Job
All of these benefits cumulate in perhaps the most significant benefit of all: landing a job. Experience makes it significantly easier to secure a job than having a degree alone will. This gives students who have completed an internship a major advantage over their fellow students who have not. References from your internship supervisors will help reassure future potential employers that you are qualified for a position. The experience will help you sell yourself to potential employers and the professional contacts you made might put you in contact with a job offer. Internships simply prepare students for a career in the graphic design field in nearly every measurable way.
This section is related to the section above, but it deserves its own write-up. A graphic design internship often does lead to a job. However, many first jobs are not jobs that the up-and-coming graphic designer wants to stay in forever.
Many of these entry-level jobs don’t have much room for advancement. There’s nothing wrong with them to begin with. They give the designer his or her first job after all.
However, for a graphic designer to move into positions like head graphic designer or art director, a job move may be in order. That’s where networking comes in. More specifically, that’s where networking at an internship comes in.
Networking is a bit like putting money into a savings account. Most people who do have a savings account know that they won’t touch the money for a while, maybe a long while. The people that the aspiring graphic designer meets at networking events are a bit like the money in savings. Here’s why.
Let’s say that the would-be graphic designer attends a company-sponsored event. Once there, he or she meets the head of the graphic design studio where the internship is taking place. The student loves working there. The problem is the studio isn’t hiring.
Despite this, the student takes the studio exec’s card and sends a nice note following the event. The designer goes on to send postcards or greeting cards periodically to keep him- or herself on the studio exec’s mind. Periodically, the student will also say hello during work hours. When the student designer’s dream job does open up, the exec will remember the designer.
Here’s the point. The cards and follow up that the student designer sent are like the cash in that savings account. When the time was right, the student designer made the withdrawal.
However, according to USA Today, the aspiring designer should not just go to his or her company events. It’s important to go to events held by other companies and professional associations. This allows the would-be designer to meet many people in the industry, people who could be future co-workers or bosses who may have a greater professional reach than the people the designer currently works with.
It Provides References
A student’s supervisors at an internship are an excellent source of professional references. Nearly all jobs require candidates to provide references and references can be integral to getting a job. Contacts you meet during an internship can also recommend you for jobs and put you in contact with other professionals in the industry. This aids in networking, which is critical for the success of every career professional. Professional references are not only beneficial for getting a job, but they are also helpful for getting into graduate school if the student is planning on additional education.
Art and design college is important. It provides design students with many theoretical foundations in design. However, there are just some things that school can’t give the aspiring design student. That’s where the graphic design internship can be so important. It provides the student with the opportunity to find a career mentor.
According to Inc.com, the benefits of having a mentor are many. For one thing, it’s often difficult to improve without one. A career mentor can see the student’s faults and more specifically, the student’s blindness to his or her faults. Often these faults get in the way of the designer’s career advancement. A kind but wise word from a mentor on how to improve can literally be a career maker.
Good mentors also encourage those who work under them. Not only does this encouragement boost morale, but it also teaches the designer how to lead. This is particularly important if the designer has his or her sights set on a position like art director.
Finally, a good mentor helps the up-and-coming designer avoid common career mistakes. Many times, these are mistakes that the designer’s mentor has made. Having a mentor who can point out potential errors can save the designer possible embarrassment or even disciplinary action that could sidestep his or her career early on.
Related Resource: The 20 Best Affordable Graphic Design Degree Programs
Aside from all these benefits, completion of an internship can boost confidence, which is something all aspiring creative professionals need. The benefits of a graphic design internship are among the major reasons why students choose to complete them.