This year’s spring break was the first time I went to New York City in search of opportunity. I was motivated to utilize my passion for graphic design to land a job in the design industry.
Months before Brooklyn, I searched high and low for opportunities that would further my education, add to my knowledge of design trends and feed my obsession with living in a huge city someday!
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1) Polish your resume/portfolio! I updated a professional resume and included an online portfolio displaying my current graphic and web masterpieces. This is an ongoing process, and should highlight paid and non-paid projects.
2) Research companies everywhere! Each night, I wrote a blog post on the pros and cons of various graphic and web design studios in Brooklyn Heights and Manhattan. I bookmarked websites with new media job offers such as Craigslist.com, Behance.net and Internships.com. When I found companies relevant to my field, I would share the link on my Facebook and Twitter for peer-to-peer feedback. I started to connect with other professionals and build networking opportunities.
3) Personalize Your First Impression! Weeks before the trip, I mailed 10 prospective employers a mini-packet of my work. Each folder had a personalized cover letter, resume and three letters of recommendation from the president and vice president of my university. I designed a professional approach, DIDesigns and included extra business cards! After a few days, I sent follow-up emails regarding the packet.
4) Show Off Your Talent! A good way to set yourself apart from the pack is to be up-to-date on trends within the industry. I emailed 10-15 design studios a week since November 2010!
I was determined to network with people who could exchange my information, offer an opportunity or point in the right direction. To become successful, you have to be able to relate to people. Getting to know people takes time, but building a relationship is an important trust.
All the hours spent on internship research paid off: I had three interviews scheduled in Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO. Two of the interviews were on Monday morning and the second followed the next day. A better way to use my time was by putting myself out there. I carried extra resumes, standard cover letters and my portfolio in a backpack around the city. I went door-knocking on companies I mapped out in Manhattan and Brooklyn. After knocking on more than seven companies’ doors, I stumbled to an interview with an award-winning company called Red Antler. Simon, the creative director, was an inspiring individual. He was impressed that I took the initiative to get to New York on my own and present my skills. When the interview was over, I asked for a business card and sent a thank-you letter.
When I arrived home in Michigan, I had one last meeting with a advertising company in Farmington Hills. I met with Greg Swan of Detroit Digital Advertising, and he blew me away with his professional approach and impressive clients. After a few hours of flipping through clients’ pages and learning the job description, I knew I would benefit in the design industry and build a professional appearance in networking opportunities in Michigan. It was closer to affordable housing, paid more and meant that I could take a class or two over the summer.
To this day, I still receive emails and follow-up messages from companies requesting a phone interview or tour of their company.