So im a junior at a 4 year college studying graphic design and thought it would be good to get an internship over the summer, I have a few questions however. I dont think that I have enough skill and knowledge to tackle big projects since all I have is school projects that I did. Will I be working by myself or will there be other design students with me? Will the company expect me to be on par with the actual designers that have been working for the company? Im scared because I dont know If im ready to work by myself. In school its different but I never did anything for a professional company. I would really like an internship because I am graduating soon and want to get experience.
How internships work varies depending on the company. You can get with a company that pays you or trains you on everything just like you are in school, or you can get with a company that’s only looking for free labor and doesn’t train you on anything in a trial by fire.
Shop around and question about what the internship will be like at each company before agreeing to any internship. If the company doesn’t know but is open to suggestions, then negotiate your own terms. If the company doesn’t want to tell you what you will be doing or negotiate, then avoid that company.
Like DZ said, every company handles interns differently, but a company that works with interns best is a company that realizes that an intern is just that — an intern who isn’t yet at a professional level and who will need guidance and help from a supervisor and those more experienced.
We sometimes take on serious student interns, and my philosophy has always been one of helping to further the education of the intern while getting someone who can help out in various ways. I’d never just turn an intern loose on a big project without close supervision, but I’d definitely give the intern a challenging project while being totally prepared and expecting to jump in to help as needed.
When you’re applying for internships, ask questions. Ask if you’ll have experienced mentors to work with. Ask about their philosophy on interns and what they expect of one. Check up on the company and find out what previous interns and employees might think about them (Google search). Remember that in any interview, you’ll be interviewing them as much as they’ll be interviewing you. If something sounds off, turn it down.
Many design schools vet the companies who are looking for interns. Have you checked to see if your school keeps a list of companies who have inquired about interns?
Better look soon.
Summer internships start interviewing in March.
No, you will not be expected to be on par with the other qualified and experienced designers.
Make sure you work with a company that has at least one senior designer. If you’re working for a company where you are the sole designer, I’d say it’s not really an internship situation. No mentor, no internship.
If you are struggling to find an internship, you could sweeten the deal by requesting shorter internships. Ask if you can work shadow for a week initially and see how it goes from there. No strings. Sometimes giving someone you don’t know a chance for 2 months can be a bit daunting.
Internships are internships.
If the college is known to area businesses in regards to interns, the businesses have a fairly good idea what they will be getting. Interviewing for an internship is no different from a job interview. You will most likely need a reference from one of your professors so line that up in advance, preferably with the one that will be doing your evaluation, if this is being done as part of your course of study. You may have to show a portfolio of student work.
A junior level design student should know enough to be useful, but not expected to be an experienced designer.
No one is going to hire a college junior for an internship and expect them to have the experience of a seasoned designer. The hiring company should have realistic expectations.
As multiple members have said, no one should hire a student intern expecting them to be an experienced designer, but what “should” be isn’t always what “is” the reality. Some people looking to hire only know “intern” to mean “work for free” and are even less experienced than the student. I’ve heard many stories from students who were exploited. I also did what I and most members on this forum don’t recommend you do, freelance while being a student. I was surprised how many companies were willing to let me freelance when I barely knew what I was doing. But that was over 25 years ago, when most people thought that just knowing how to use a computer for graphics was a big skill.
B’s advice to check to see if your school has vetted companies looking for interns is best. This should weed out the inexperienced companies looking to exploit.
This has been well covered, but I’ll just add that many schools also provide internships internally. Also work-study opportunities. Mine did and I took advantage of both.