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Clueless in Virginia

So, I have a year before I graduate and get tossed back into the real world, ostensibly to look for work as a designer. I was considering trying to get an internship before I graduate so that I could have something design related to have on my resume. At this point, I have no portfolio and no real clue as to how to become a viable candidate for some of these jobs, but I’m thinking I better start getting serious and figuring it out. Have any of you done an internship? What about freelance work? What should us future grads be doing to have a realistic shot in today’s job market??? How did you go about it?


  1. nmonton001 wrote:

    Ditto. I am in the same boat. One year away and I am feeling so unprepared.

    Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  2. kwalter wrote:

    As a mason senior graduating this spring, these are my helpful suggestions:

    1. I highly recommend getting an internship. Why? Because it looks good on your resume and it can be a great way to give you a sneak peak into the design world, which can vary from firm to firm. At least in the DC and NYC regions you can have places that range from very serious in nature to goofy w/ video games and redbull in the minifridge; from very large to only a dozen people.
    That said though, because mason designers don’t need internship credits don’t go for the one’s that aren’t paid. It’s not worth your time, money, and effort, and chances are the one’s that don’t pay will just have you run coffee and other little errands for them. Go for the paid one’s cause you’ll learn a lot and will be expected to actually contribute and do work.

    2. Immerse yourself in the design community. Join the mason AIGA group, which does semester trips to both DC and NYC to go and see different firms (last semester it was Vimeo, Huge, Viget, AKQA, and iStrategyLabs), and hold fun events (Extreme Pumpkin Makeover and Design Battle) and talks. They even have a facebook group, , so check it out.
    Also, check out the website, which has job and internship postings all the time (only viewable once you’ve paid to be part of the group, but the $50~ for a year is pretty much worth it if you take advantage of some of the events that AIGA holds in DC ). Networking is always a plus, and you never know, someone might be just looking for what you have to offer.

    3. You need a portfolio. Uploading it onto a website like can definitely help in being a quick link to send to jobs that you’re applying at and can save you time and effort from trying to attach a lot of pdfs in your emails. I also recommend looking up other students on behance to see what they have up. Try to have a diverse portfolio, with maybe a website project, a branding project, a book cover project, etc., with different moods and themes, but have them all cater to your specific style. The more quality stuff you have up, the better. Always go quality over quantity.
    GMU-AIGA also holds portfolio talks (like how to go about setting it up and such), however I don’t remember if its semesterly or yearly.

    4. Do freelance work, but at your own risk. Sometimes it works out really well and can be an incredible learning opportunity and be great for your portfolio. I’ve had positive experiences with it personally, but mostly because I made sure to work with people I initially liked. Other times, you might have a story for .

    5. The market place is good right now for social media, web design and coding people in the DC area. Though having talent in print media is always nice, most jobs are looking for people who can do more interactive/social media like stuff. This is because it’s a relatively new field that a lot of senior designers have no clue how to go about and aren’t always willing to learn. Use this to your advantage!
    If you desire going into the print side of design, you run the risk of not always finding a job. This is mostly because there are lots of senior designers who have more experience and connections, which keep them in business and will keep you for the most part out.

    6. Lastly, APPLY APPLY APPLY. Apply everywhere. Small places, big places, far away places, and close places. The worst anyone can say to you is no, so really you have nothing to lose.

    Good luck, and the best time is to start now! There’s nothing worse then trying to get your stuff together while juggling senior book and your other last few credits. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

    Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink
  3. Pete wrote:

    Internships are a great way to familiarize yourself with the design industry and what is going on in “real time” business.

    Try and do as many internships as you can now that you have the time. Later on, it will be more difficult because your mind will be focusing more on how to find a ‘permanent’ job.

    BTW, if during an internship somebody asks you to make him/her a cup of coffee do so, and do it in the best way you can.

    The only negative thing that I recognize in todays market is the fact that you have to be a “Jack of all trades”. Though what they (the various professionals and fields of practice) tend to forget to add at the end of this sentence is the “master of none”. Anyhow, this is another matter.

    Try to stay up to date with what is happening in your field – make connections – but don’t forget that you also have a private life.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink
  4. i_like_cats wrote:

    I just wanted to thank you guys for the great advice. I really appreciate the thorough responses.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Arthur Reinaltt wrote:

    Sometimes just googling internships is a quick way of finding out information on places that are hiring but you may not know. I would definitely recommend visiting the career center because they always have ton of information on what you can do to better yourself for whatever job you want 🙂

    Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink