As a web designer myself, I can relate to young web designers who are just starting out and looking for a way to get their foot in the door. It’s very hard to start because many companies are looking for experienced designers and if you do not have much yet, it can be hard to get noticed. I’ll show you a few simple steps you can take to land a great web designer internship as well as build that experience.
This method worked great for me about seven years ago when I was just a 19-year-old kid looking to get started in the industry.
Build a Great Portfolio Website
The most crucial step is to build a stellar – not just good – portfolio website. Your portfolio website should be extremely impressive. Forget about the experience required for the job. A senior web designer will look at your portfolio much more carefully than they will look at your previous work experience.
So how do you build a great portfolio if you have not really worked in the industry much? There’s a few different ways.
Re-design Logos and Websites of Your Favorite Brands
If you don’t have much work, the quickest way to build a strong portfolio is to redesign logos and websites of your favorite brands. Do you think you could create a much better identity for Coca Cola? Go for it. Just because you’re not getting paid to do such work doesn’t mean you can’t do it to show your imagination and creativity. Who knows, maybe Coca Cola will eventually find your concepts and fall in love it and hire you themselves. Crazier things have happened.
Offer Your Design Services for Free to Local Charities
The next method you can use to fill up your portfolio with great work is to offer your design services to local charities. While most charities don’t have big budgets to work with, everyone loves getting stuff for free. Call or meet with a few of your local charities and talk to them. They might need their website redesigned, or a new logo, or even some brochures. Whatever they might need, you could offer it to them. And not only will it help build your portfolio, they might actually recommend you to real companies and bring you business through word-of-mouth advertising.
Create Imaginary Brands and Design Their Identities
This is simply the artistic freedom that all designers love. Let your creative juices flow and go crazy. You can literally do anything you want and you will be surprised by how creative you are when you have no boundaries or restrictions.
Hunt for Internships
Once you have a great portfolio website that shows off your awesome work, the next step is to find those internships and apply for them. There are many internships out there, some of which pay very well. I started off my internship getting paid about $15 an hour and that comes in handy if you’re still going to school and need to pay tuition and expenses. In fact, I received both college credits and income from my internship, which in my opinion was pretty awesome.
Remember, you do not have much experience at this point so don’t be too picky. It’s OK to look for internships that aren’t exact fits with your ideal goals or visions. Internships are just meant to give you real-world experience and help you polish your skills. You’re not going to be there forever.
Be Confident in Your Work
The final step is to simply be confident and proud of your work, yet understand that you likely still have a lot to learn. I know for a fact that web designers love other web designers that are confident in their work and can explain why they did what they did. But remember, nobody likes a know-it-all. No matter who you are, there’s always going to be someone better than you somewhere and you have to understand that.
A good deal of web design involves doing things logically, and sometimes we need to convince one another of better ways of doing things. Whether it’s best coding practices, usability, or design, you need to show authority and tell the world that you know what you’re talking about.
Good luck and may you land the killer internship you’re looking for!