If you are applying for an intern position at a design company here are some suggestions to consider for your application. As a designer I receive a number of applications but I don’t use interns so can’t offer a position. This advice is hopefully positive suggestions to inspire applicants in their search, and is based on emails I have received.
Try and get the name of the person you are writing to, to begin the email. Difficult sometimes with so many websites only offering info@ addresses, but do your research.
In Denmark, where I am based, there is a large job searching website called Jobindex.dk. If you go to ‘Job annoncer’ ‘Advanceret søgning’ you can go into their archive and find every company that has ever advertised for a designer, and usually a specific person’s email address. If they’ve hired before, they’ll hire again.
You are applying for a position in a design company. You want to learn, you don’t know everything, the company you are applying to, will know this, but… first impressions count. The person at the other may be a ‘design nerd’. Possibly a ‘typography geek’, line-height, font-sizes and white space are their thing.
That CV needs to look professional. You can purchase a CV template from Graphic River from about $5. That’s an investment I’d strongly recommend. You then rework the design to personalise it.
That design won’t get you a position, but the professionalism in the design will stop you falling at the first hurdle.
I recommend a photo of yourself on the CV. A positive happy best version of you photo. A picture paints a thousand words, make it work for you.
Start with the good stuff first. The relevant skills and experience. People usually skim read stuff, so front load your CV and your application email. Also have your website mentioned in the email and the CV. In case they’ve skimmed and missed.
There is a great course on Designing resumes for Creatives at Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com). Typically you can get a free first month.
As a creative person looking to get into the design industry I strongly recommend you have your own website. At an absolute minimum be on Behance but you are really not sending a good signal if you don’t have your own website.
My recommendation, you purchase a domain and hosting, I use one.com, (this is a referral link, we both get 100 DKK off if you use it) the cheapest hosting option they offer is all you need, and then go on Youtube and find videos for starting a WordPress website. That little bit of web knowledge will give you enough skills to add ‘webmaster’ or WordPress CMS user skills to your CV. It won’t take you more than a couple of hours to get it set up. And that might be enough to get you a position. Being able to update the company website and social media platforms might be your stepping stone into an intern position or junior designer position. A lot more relevant to a potential employer than you mentioning that time you worked in a baker’s shop in your summer holiday that is padding out your CV.
Last bit of patronizing advice
Rejection, or not even getting a reply, can be heart breaking. Stay strong, believe in yourself. It’s not personal, people are just busy. If you get a nice reply that turns you down, and you are unsure how your application is, you could gently and apologetically ask for feedback on your CV and application email. You won’t always get an answer, but most people hate giving out rejections so if they have some positive advice it might be helpful.
That little bit of an exchange might be enough to get you remembered another time.
Unless you’ve been rejected 200 times, you haven’t even begun applying. Your application just needs to hit the right person’s desk on the right day. The chances of that will only increase the more you apply to.
Good luck and stick with it.
Iain Cameron is a Copenhagen based graphic designer, web designer and illustrator. Here is my portfolio.