Thanks to everyone for their contribution, advice and well-wishes.
So far, my strategy has been to try to make connections with designers in some of the firms I am interested in by emailing them through Linkedin or through getting their contact info from the IDSA’s member directory. I always write to them with a clear intention of either networking or getting them to view my work (I don’t want to look desperate); because it’s good to get feedback on student work. And I am always polite and thankful afterwards, because they are taking time out of their schedules to see or talk to me. So far, it has been successful a few times; I had the president of a major housewares corp. contact me over the phone to give me feedback on my work (all mostly positive!), so that’s a start. Then I had one creative director who I asked for feedback here in NYC, see me in person in his office, so I am making some progress and leaving my business cards/resumes.
But most of the resumes/cover letters/sample work I send out without any job posting are unsolicited, so I don’t expect them to get back to me. I won’t call, like you mostly advise. I don’t want to be a nuisance. If they are interested, they might keep me in a file and I will wait around for them to contact me instead.
I am starting to see more positive in Linkedin than IDSA for now, but would like to, when I can afford it, possibly reconsider an IDSA membership, but right now it’s way too expensive when I can network on Linkedin (The free version of Linked does NOT allow you to contact professionals or send them “inmail”, so I signed up for a month to try it out). As far as Linkedin connections, I have only been asking for connections only of those designers I have met or spoken to over the phone, etc… and politely asking if it is ok to add them. Though some of my classmates on Linkedin have hundreds of connections! I wonder how they got those? Maybe they think it’s Facebook; where they have a quota to fulfill?!
What a great idea to try trade shows. Hadn’t considered that. Next year, during the International Housewares Convention in Chicago, I will make sure I attend that one with portfolio in tow! I have also tried sending notes to invite senior designers for a coffee (in a nicely, well written, thankful and polite note) through Linkedin, but am still waiting for their replies. Maybe I am going to0 far up the food chain? I might consider just staff designers and see if they have time to meet up with me.
As far as cover letters, I do customize all of them. Employers are good at sniffing out “cookie-cutter” cover letters. I want them to know that I know about their company and what they stand for and why I would be a good fit there.
Well, thanks everyone. I will certainly keep up the networking on Linkedin and in-person. I do see there are a few Meetup’s (meetup.com) in NYC for designers. I should start going to those too and bring my work with me. I wonder though if I showed up with my 11x17 Pina Zingaro in tow, if I would look desperate?