Student Answers 06: Internships

Around this time of year I start to get a lot of email requests for internships, particularly from second year students. This is at once flattering and confounding. Flattering because, I think it’s great that students would want to work with me but at the same time, I’m not even sure half of them do due to the lack of effort put into contacting me.

You can smell a copied and pasted, boiler plate email a mile off and they really don’t go down well. I reply to 95% or more of people who contact me but when it’s a lazy email I just switch off. I don’t have a standard response that I just paste and send so you shouldn’t have a standard email.

For my part, I think there’s much better places to intern than with me. I’m one guy and I work alone most of the time. Unless it’s a collaborative piece of course but the paid projects that come in are usually too few and far between to warrant having someone spend 3 months over the summer sat staring at the back of my head. For that reason I’m not currently taking on interns but be sure to know that I will be posting about it when I am looking for help.

So, I tweeted about it the other day and got a lot of responses asking for advice. Not that I’m any real authority on the matter but my thoughts are these.. This is ABC stuff but apparently not for most people.

1. Send anything but an email. Write a letter, design a mailer; anything that shows you’ve put some thought into it. Don’t just email with a CV attached, people want to see the kind of work you’re capable of.

2. If you want to contact multiple studios, by all means do so but don’t send them the same damn thing. Tailor it. Mention work of theirs that you particularly like, why you want to work with them, what you think you’ll learn etc. “I find your work really inspiring” is not good enough, you can say that to anyone. There’s no need to suck up but be genuine.

3. Spelling and grammar. Seriously, this is really important. Foreign students, OK, you’re allowed some broken English etc but the fact is, you’re trying to get work in a field where communication, information, legibility and clarity are key. If you mis-spell internship in the subject bar things don’t look good. This has happened.

4. Be nice. Again, I can’t stress this enough. Why would anyone want to work with someone who comes across as arrogant?

5. P’s & Q’s! If a studio can’t take you on this year but takes the time to get back, say thank you! Would it kill you to be polite? This is the real world where people don’t have 6 week+ deadlines. If a busy studio has taken the time to get back to you, it’s the least you can do to respond in turn.

So, to reiterate: a tailored, genuinely interested, well put together and polite first point of contact will get a much better response than any carpet bomb email enterprise.

Good luck!