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4 Tips for Getting that Internship You Want

Back40 Graphic Designer Chad PhillipsAn intern? Most people shudder at the thought of being one.

Fortunately, I have had one of the best interning experiences I could have hoped for at Back40 Design.

The scariest part was probably finding the building on my first day (I’m not directionally challenged, it’s just a really confusing location). Other than that, my experience has been great. I’ve had the opportunity to do some great things with Back40’s Edmond Outlook Magazine. I think the reason why I have become so passionate about the magazine is because I was treated like part of the team from the very beginning. I also knew exactly what I was getting myself into. They were clear and honest about what I would be doing as an intern. Believe it or not, a lot of places are not.

My days consist of designing ads, laying out the magazine, creative meetings, and working around some really fun people. I’ve also been able to meet with clients, which is something I wasn’t expecting. It’s an experience I’m thankful for. It’s very important to be able to communicate with clients, which is something I struggled with when I first started here. You need to be able to confidently explain to someone your ideas and opinions. At Back40, I have been able to work with people who have taught me more than I could have ever learned in my design classes. I’ve also been able to learn more and more about the industry I am getting myself into. I have never felt like an “intern” at Back40, and that has only made me more confident in myself, and my work. I’m leaving this place confident that I’m a step ahead of most of my peers.

Whether it’s a great recommendation or a job, interning normally rewards you in some way, even if it can be a pain for some. The best part about my interning experience last summer is that I was asked to return this summer to work as a part-time designer (paid). Can’t beat that. Interning can open many doors, teach you real world things you could never learn in school, and get you connected with some awesome people who are already working in the field that you want to be in. Interning has shown me what I have to look forward to.

To any future interns out there, here are a few pointers:

  • Know what you want to learn. Ask questions. You’ll know the basics, but there’s always room to grow and learn new things. Especially with all the knowledge you need to confidently operate the programs we use.
  • Send your resume, even if they’re not looking. If there’s a design firm out there that you want to be a part of, send them your resume and an email explaining your interest in interning with them. Most people will like the initiative, and that you are seeking them out. Be persistent. Make follow up calls or emails. If you want something, you have to be willing to push for it. Even if it doesn’t work out, they could contact you later when something becomes available.
  • Don’t settle for any internship. The people you work with will make or break your experience. Luckily, at Back40 they treat their interns like part of the team. Treat your search like you are applying for a full-time job. Just because someone offers you an internship, doesn’t mean you have to take it.
  • Don’t be afraid to step up. Don’t be afraid to take on more responsibility than what they have given you. It shows that you are passionate and willing to work hard. It only reflects better on you. You have to treat yourself like a brand as a young designer. Impressions are very important.
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