Finding an internship as a college student can be tedious and daunting, even for us who have real-world experience working in the field either as freelancers or taking time off from school to work full time. I am fortunate to have been building my professional network since 2015 when I was just a Freshman in college. I began getting trained to work with high school students at my former high school to assist them with their own college matriculation process, from start to finish.
During my first 3 years of experience doing this type of work, while attending college, I was making sure to not only apply my design skills any way I could when assisting the students but networking with as many people as possible, including people outside the design field; I felt it was essential to not enclose myself just within the design world. A gut feeling was telling me that doing so would benefit me later in my career. And sure enough, all that came in handy when looking for an internship.
I tried using the resources provided by CityTech to find one that fits my interests: web, UX/UI, coding, graphic design, and education (a mashup of all) since I consider myself a multidisciplinary designer as well as a huge advocate for education access, especially the inclusivity and equity aspects of it. I kept looking throughout the Fall 2022 semester, including online on platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Upwork, etc., until I felt like I had exceeded my internship-hunting timeframe.
I then realized I have been working hard to build a network over the years and should make use of it! My first step was to reach out to my current employer, the co-founder of a non-profit that works with schools and organizations to promote, enhance, and facilitate access to education for marginalized communities.
JUST SO I AM NOT LOSING YOU: When working as a College Bridge Coach (my title at the job I previously mentioned), I was employed by my school, but in partnership with one of the programs at this organization, for all the necessary training the job required. Later I took a three-year gap from school and started working for this same organization as their in-house designer.
So, when I reached out to ask for either a recommendation letter or a way for me to connect with an organization, one came to mind that would meet my specific needs and wants in an internship. Both organizations have worked together in the past, sharing the same vision, when I was just beginning the College Bridge Coach job. I was fascinated by the platform/site they had built to assist Bridge Coaches in working with high school students, tracking all the essential data during the college matriculation process.
Before the semester ended I made sure to reach out as soon as possible after my employer provided me with their contact information. I emailed my pitch, including my skills, interests, why them, and why pick me. I also included a few of the relevant school, work, and even personal projects that I have been up to (I was still working on my portfolio and my resume was a bit outdated but wanted to show them something). One of my interviews has just been recently featured in my work organization’s monthly eBlast at the time, and I included that as well for credibility and in the place of a recommendation letter. In the interview, I talked about what I envision myself doing down the road and how it aligns with what they do.
My design focus is particular: Design but education-access oriented. What your organization does, regarding education and the kind of design (web and UX/UI), is really inspiring and it aligns with where I see myself in the near future. So I think it would be such a great environment for me to do my internship there, further explore ways to create access to education with design, while providing the organization with not only my design perspectives, but my 6 years of College Bridge Coach experience.
I thankfully got a prompt reply to talk details, first via email, then we scheduled a virtual meeting at a much later time for a proper but informal interview since they somewhat knew me already. Regardless of the limited but real-world practices that I already had and the fact that it was going to be an informal interview, I was nervous. It went very smoothly, however. And they were glad to take me in.