Internships as a non-student

Hello, I’m quite new to graphic design, I am in the process of learning and developing my skills. My main objective is to get a job as a graphic designer, however, I quit school and I don’t have a diploma, which scares me sometimes. I know that most internships are aimed for students, but I think an internship is a great entry to a field, but I’m not a student, so is it common to get an internship as someone who doesn’t have a diploma and is not a student? and how does one find such opportunities? Thank you.

You aren’t going to like this answer.
Most internships go to students, and usually the school is known to the employer and vetted as at least providing a certain minimal skillset that the employer can count on from the intern.
You don’t have that.

Raising an intern is a lot of work for an employer. A huge time suck actually. The few internships out there are going to go to those the employer thinks will succeed.
I’m not going to say non-student internships don’t exist. In the design field they sure are few and far between. There is an overabundance of design students being pumped out of university now there aren’t enough job opportunities for them, and most will jump at the pay of an intern just to get experience in the field.

If you find one of these rare opportunities, how will you prove to the employer that you as skilled as this glut of students?
Where are you ‘learning’ your skills?
And what will you have to unlearn in your first few weeks?
You didn’t follow through on the diploma.
Are you going to follow through on a real-world job?
Those are questions an employer will ask themselves.


I actually like this answer because it clarifies everything. I am an autodidact, mostly learning from books and the internet. I know that there is priority for people with diplomas. I have to get a job if internships are not an option for me. Which means I have to work really hard to prove myself as a graphic designer. Thank you very much for your answer!

I do not sincerely believe that these are reassuring qualities to potential employers.

They are if I apply my knowledge to my work, but employers do need proof that I attended some class or that I know some design rule unfortunately.

Attending classes and learning rules is not just a box-ticking exercise to please potential employers. A formal education is the best grounding you can get. You’ll learn the machinations of design on the job, but, in my opinion, it should be a prerequisite to being able to practice professionally. It would end the over-saturation of under-qualified YouTube educated self-titled ‘designers’ who think they know what they are doing. I’d always suggest going back to school and getting yourself properly educated. It will hugely increase your chances of getting a job.

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A formal education is not necessary to succeed in a field such as graphic design. It will help you land jobs and stuff like that, and if that’s your main objective and you want to get there fast, that’s great. Formal education in graphic design resulted in over-saturation of degree holders who think they’re good designers because they studied in a good university. There’s over-saturation on both sides, and many designers succeded in the field without holding any degree or diploma, you either have it or you don’t. Schools don’t produce good designers, they produce people who can get a job, but if a diploma was the only requirement for getting a job in graphic design, employers wouldn’t need to look at your portfolio. Someone without a diploma who works hard to learn on his or her own and actually has a talent, who need a little experience is much better than somebody who went to a prestigious school but lacks any talent.

As long as they learn in the right direction.

It is often a glaring problem. Whenever I have been involved in interviewing, I could usually pick out the self-taught and the formally-trained portfolios a mile off. Of course the are exceptions, but in the main, there are certain fundamentals that routinely get overlooked by YouTube ‘educators’.

I’ve never seen a good one.
They make me so angry, not in an agressive way, in a peed off and annoyed way.

Just a lot of bad info.

And the ones Adobe themselves post are just dreadful. I have to bite my tongue on them but I’ve had to step in a few times and call them out on it.

Just really bad information - and it’s usually so they can get more clicks, more likes, more shares, more revenue.

They don’t care about teaching you anything.
They just pass on their bad advice and they get paid for it.
You lap it up - you practice it - and you suffer from it.

I don’t really watch Youtube design, but I don’t think it should be a criteria that makes a good designer. Self-learning is an extensive process, you have to make large effort in your research, not just watch a Youtube video. It depends on the path you take towards the self-teaching direction. I personally do a lot of research on the matter, figure out where everything came from, analyze other’s works and try to understand why they used a sans serif instead of a serif. I personally prefer this path instead of going back to design school because it’s more rewarding for me personally. I do plan taking courses in the future for technical stuff, such as drawing or a lithography class to have a balance of theory and practice.

There’s this guy I used to watch, I think his name is elliot, he makes funny design videos, it’s not for learning or anything, but I never really dive into the Youtube learning section. I like to take more of a traditional approach to learning, I do watch software tutorials though, they’re quite good.