Advice on getting an internship as a design graduate

I graduated from OSU in industrial Design in Spring, 2008. I haven’t had much luck finding an internship in Columbus. My girlfriend is in visual communication, and it seems like as soon as she looks for a job she finds one.

Is it easier for her because of her field, or because she has more experiences/skill from internships and freelancing? Have you as product designers successfully applied for jobs in related disciplines?

If anyone has advice on finding a job during this apparent hiring freeze, please help. I’m working $8/hour cleaning up the site of an under-construction daycare.

I think the biggest thing is to keep trying. I remember when I started, I used to work as a waiter. It was long shifts and the temptation was as soon as I’d finished work to sit back and try and get enough energy to go to work the next day. Looking for jobs started to slip because I was so shattered, the last thing I wanted to do when I got in was jump on the internet etc. This is an evil trap that I had to force myself out of.

The second thing I think it’s all too easy to do, is not follow anything up. I sent off a load of applications and then sat back, thinking the companies I’d applied to would be biting my hand off to employ me. This wasn’t the case. Chase your employers, find out the relevant person to send a CV too, not just the department. Phone them a few days/week after to make sure its arrived, phone them back a week or two later to see how things are progressing, if you don’t get it, ask them if they think there’s anything you can improve on etc. As long as you gage it so that you’re not annoying them, then your keeping yourself in their mind and showing how keen/passionate you are.

These are difficult times, but opportunities are still out there, it’s just going to be a lot more competitive.

Networking…Find out who the people are that run the design firms in your area and start talking to them, we like to party. Go to design functions and keep updating your work and do some stuff on your own. It took me 8 months before I landed something after 200 emails out to companies all over the world.

I agree with all of this. I have new grads and students all the time ask me what the most important thing is when finding a job. I tell them to believe in themselves and never give up. Of course you need a good portfolio and a good resume, but if you believe in what you do and have the motivation to push yourself to get there you will succeed. This includes taking shitty jobs and sometimes crappy pay to build your portfolio. Like we have told many people on this board, sometimes those jobs that you think suck are the ones you learn the most from. Trust me I have been through it.
I graduated in 2002 which was also a slow job market and more people loosing their jobs than being hired. I took a lot of freelance jobs doing things that I knew I was better than but it kept building my portfolio. I kept pushing and following up and eventually landed my first job and it was history from there.