Tips for Success

First things first. Prepare your presentation by having the following with you (or immediately accissible): 

  • résumé
  • cover letter
  • portfolio.

Work with Career Development to prepare for your internship. They can help with your résumé, portfolio, job search, and more! Don’t forget to search internship and job opportunities on CCAWorks, Weekly Picks, and attend Career Expo to connect with employers.

Things to think about:
  • Get noticed (you might get 15 seconds to make an impression)
  • Perfect is the enemy of the good!
  • A fully finished portfolio is necessary to get an internship
  • Show process books from some of your main projects
  • Show your skills such as various levels of sketching, 2D renderings and 3D CAD
  • Projects should be one- or two-page summaries for each. Each project should consist of a few portfolio pages; 1 to 5 at the most.
  • Be clear, concise, and well-designed graphically
How to contact companies?

To put together a list of possible internship sites, consult: industry websites and job boards, program suggestions, Career Development resources: CCA Works Job Board, Weekly Picks, and Career Expo, networking, and personal contacts. Figure out now, where you want to work when you get out of school; this will help you target appropriate sites.

  • Make sure to follow application requirements and guidelines such as portfolio size, formal cover letter vs. short intro email, digital vs. analog submission, no-phone call policy, etc.
  • Most applications are submitted digitally: send cover letter or introduction email, résumé, and a short teaser portfolio (3-5 projects) as a single PDF file. If you happen to have a printed portfolio, you may be able to also submit via regular mail, but should not expect to have it mailed back to you.
  • You need to figure out how to stand out from the crowd (there are many students from other institutions throughout the world looking for internships here in the Bay Area). Develop your network through faculty, alums and peers, and have them support your applications via recommendation, or to request introductions to key professionals.
Strategy: how to request a face-to-face meeting?

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 your 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 say, "We are not looking for an intern right now," or something like that. You need to get your foot in the door, literally. One strategy is to ask the person you are 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 good first meeting feeling and agenda. All the person is committing to is a meeting 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.

How to prepare for the meeting?

You got the appointment! Do your homework. Learn as much about the company as you can:

  • Visit websites (the company's website, IDSA, Core77).
  • Read I.D. magazine, BusinessWeek, and the like
  • Talk to your professors, peers, and alumni to see what they know.
  • Talk to upper-division who have already done internships.
  • Practice, practice, practice. 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. Career Development can help you practice by doing a mock interview.
  • Plan ahead. 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.
How to approach the meeting?

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!
  • Ask for a tour of the office.
  • During the conversation, if it seems appropriate, ask if they hire interns. In some cases, the person you are meeting will volunteer this information before you ask. If the situation seems awkward, don't bring it up.
  • When you leave, say "thank you".
How to follow-up after the meeting?

Send a thank-you note via postal mail and let them know you will keep in touch.

Check in every month or so and ask about a follow-up meeting for an internship. Now, since they know you, the second meeting will be easy!

You get an ambiguous 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 and/or email weekly. If you begin to feel too uncomfortable, stop. You want to be persistent without harassing anyone.

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 with them either way. You never know where it might lead.

You get the internship. Congratulations! Contact the Internship Coordinator and give them the Learning Contract in advance so they have time to research and give site approval before the internship begins.

International students must also give the CPT form to the Internship Coordinator to sign, before turning into ISAP for work authorization.

Contact the Internship Coordinator to set up a one-on-one in person consultation about your internship.