Getting a Face-to-Face Meeting or Interview
If you are applying for an advertised internship, send your application into the company in the way that they specify but you can also do some research and see if there is an actual person that you can send a copy too. It’s always good to have a contact point inside the company. If there isn’t an advertised position, don't ask for an internship Instead, ask for a meeting to review your work. If you say you are looking for an internship, it puts the person on the other end of the communication in a tough situation. Currently the company may not be looking for an intern. Or they may be looking for one, but the intern supervisor may not have time to meet with you. Or they may need someone but haven't officially set the internship hiring process in motion. Often the person you talk to will just say, "We are not looking for an intern right now," or something like that and at that point you just had the proverbial door closed in your face.
You need to get your foot in the door, literally. One strategy is to ask the person
contacting if they can meet with you to review your portfolio or work you have done to date in college. You want feedback from a professional. That's it. This sets up a very good first meeting and agenda. All the person is committing to is to meet with you to discuss and give feedback on your work!
If you cannot get a meeting, do not push too hard. This may create a bad impression for future opportunities.
Before the Meeting
You get the appointment! Do your homework.
Learn as much about the company as you can:
· Visit websites (the company's website, IDSA, Core77, etc)
· Read design magazines, websites, and the like.
· Talk to your professors to see what they know.
· Talk to upper-division students who have already done internships.
Practice, practice, and practice some more:
Practice your presentation at least three times with someone. Get comfortable with your
material. Do not go in cold without doing this; it may be your only shot.
Confirm the appointment a day in advance (call or email).
Dress casually, but presentably: clean, ironed shirt, pants, skirt, and so forth. Suits are not necessary. Ask your instructors if you have questions.
Be on time, or even a few minutes early. Do not be late. Give yourself time to stop sweating from the walk or bike ride you took to get there.
Show the person your work and engage them in discussion. If you have prepared in advance, you
will have questions about the company.
Be pleasant and as articulate as possible. Be clear when you explain your work.
Be accepting of criticism. Take notes! (They really, really like this!).
Ask for a tour of the office.
During the conversation, and only if it seems appropriate or they bring it up, ask if they hire interns. In some cases, the person you are meeting will volunteer this information before you ask. If the situation is awkward, don't bring it up.
When you leave, say thank you.
Send a hard-copy thank-you note via snail mail and assure them you will keep in touch. Check in every month or so and ask about a follow-up meeting at month six. Now, since they know you, the second meeting will be easy!
If you get an ambiguous answer or no response:
They keep saying, "Call me next week", "We are busy, but aren't ready to hire", "We are waiting for this job to come through" and the like. What this means: They aren't ready to hire, so keep your options open and go on other interviews and meetings. Don't wait around for this one opportunity. Have as many irons in the fire as you can.
No one returns your phone calls or emails:
This means they are busy, and the internship isn't the first thing on their to-do list. Keep trying until you get in contact with someone, even if it means you have to call or email, or both, weekly. If you begin to feel too uncomfortable, stop. You want to be persistent without harassing anyone. Move on at some point and work on your other companies.
You are rejected:
No one likes it, but get used to this. It's impossible to please everyone, and people are entitled to their opinions. Part of the job of finding an internship is finding a place where you want to work. If one potential employer doesn't feel the fit, that is OK. Just accept it, thank them, and move on to your next choice. You will likely have many meetings and interviews before you get the one you want.
Keep in touch either way:
You never know where it might lead. Be professional!