So you are on your hunt for a web design or graphic design internship at an innovative design firm, with a great client base, award-winning design work, steller G5's, and nice hourly pay? You are not alone. You are in a crowd of student graphic designers the size of the crowds from the Taste of Chicago. In this economy, a graphic design internship like the example above, with pay, is extremely difficult to find. Not impossible, but difficult.
First ask yourself, would you work without getting paid? Are you truly looking for design experience or are you looking for a part-time job? If you are willing to work unpaid, mention this in your cover letter (and always send a cover letter please). Some companies assume that you want pay with your design internship and don't have it in their budget.
Second, consider all options. Are you looking ONLY for design firms, ad agencies, and web development companies? What about in-house marketing or creative departments at Fortune 1000 companies? Or newspapers? Magazine companies? Many multi-million dollar organizations have superb in-house creative departments and potentially more opportunities. There are many large companies in the Chicagoland area: AllState, Sears, Boeing, McDonalds, Chicago Tribune, etc.
Third, consider local printers. Is there a Minuteman Press or AlphaGraphics near you? Small printers offer design services to their clients since many of their clients cannot afford the design studio prices. Maybe you could walk in and introduce yourself to the owner and offer your services for the summer? This could become YOUR graphic design internship.
Finally, make your own graphic design internship. Okay, so it's not exactly an internship, but you could offer your services pro-bono (free) to your favorite charity or not-for-profit organization. Get involved in your community, practice networking, and build your design portfolio, while at the same time building your community. After all is said and done, a design internship will not guarantee you a design job when you graduate. An internship helps give you some real world experience and keeps you ahead of the competition. There are many excellent designers out there, and in order to compete, look at the best student in your class and realize that he/she is your competition, and the beginning of your networking base.