Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Best Pay for an Intern Isn't Always Cash

When looking for a job, connections are more valuable than money.

And the best way to make those connections is through an internship. Even if you've already graduated.

Many of the best internships don't pay a dime. They pay in connections, opportunities and experience. And during a job search, those are far more valuable than cash.

Look at small agencies, especially one-, two-, or three-person shops. They might not be able to pay you. But they can give you better opportunities and are more likely to assist you in your search.

At a large agency, you're just another intern. At a small shop, you can become an important part of the team.

How do you find a post-graduate internship? Approach the owner at a small shop. Volunteer to go in and help with anything. Tell them you don't need money, you just want the experience of working with them. Who knows? Someone who isn't considering an intern may take you on.

Sound simple? Not really. Here's the catch: it has to be someone you have a relationship with. A small shop isn't likely to take on someone they don't know.

So, do what you can to develop strong relationships. I have several recent grads doing that with me right now. When my current intern lands a job, I'll look to bring in one of them.

How I (like other small shops) pay interns: access to my connections, a strong referral, feedback on resume and portfolio, use of my studio and its equipment, as well as active assistance from me in the job search.

And that's worth quite a bit.

(Side note: Normally I don't advise working for free. But in unusual times you have to do whatever is going to help you out in the long run.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prepare for the Rebound

When I graduated from college, desktop computers had just entered ad agencies – which meant fewer people were needed to do the same work. It took me months to find my first job.

What you’re experiencing is unmatched. 

However, the rebound is on its way. It might not happen next week or next month, but it is coming. You need to be prepared in order to land a job. 

Build your skills // If you don’t have interactive skills, stop reading right now and sign up for interactive training (that includes you writers). You can register at your local community college. Many have two-day or one-week intensive courses. Just make sure it gives you a good foundation. And then dive in and learn, learn, learn. The people who are going to get hired have an understanding of interactive. If you don’t have that knowledge, you will likely end up in the “no” pile when companies are reviewing resumes. Print isn't dead, but it has all the people it needs. It’s simple. Want a job? Know interactive.

Create a team // My intern Mike is putting together a team of creatives to do pro bono work for an acquaintance. It shows initiative. It shows leadership. It shows well on his resume. He and the rest of the group are sharpening their creative skills and proving their ability to work as part of a team. Plus, they’ll get a nice portfolio piece out of it.

Be fearless // Introduce yourself to people. Follow up. Ask people if they know of openings. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They don’t respond. Big deal. Move on to the next person. If you don’t try, you don’t stand a chance.

The rebound is coming. Are you prepared? 

Have a question? Post a comment and I’ll be happy to respond.