Maybe this question has an obvious answer, but I’m unsure. Any opinions would be welcome.
It seems like most of the advice for ID students hunting for internships revolves around portfolio development, with the aim of getting a sketch/render/model type internship. I’m more interested in a design thinking or system design type internship, but I’m not sure what I can show them that would prove my competence.
Is it ok to ask what they would like to see, or is that a faux pas?
I don’t think it would hurt, they just might not know. What I think you are looking for is an IxD internship.
You might also want to look up consultancies focusing on design strategy.
There really are no rules. That being said, if you’re too pushy, count yourself out of the running for the position. It is a tough line to walk… being eager versus being annoying. You can usually get someone nice in the HR department, talk with them, have a conversation with them, and be friendly. Usually works.
Obviously this doesn’t go for all companies out there, but:
At my company HR is so far removed from the actual employees that asking HR would be a waste of time because they honestly don’t know. They just weed out the ones that are obviously unqualified and funnel the rest to the designers to look over then the designers send HR back a list of people to call in for interviews. That being said, if you can get HR to help you to get in touch with an actual designer where you want to apply they’ll probably be more than happy to talk about what they do on a day to day basis, what kind of designer they’re looking for, and possibly most importantly how to make a good first impression with the interviewer at that particular company. Surprisingly I had some success with being an internet stalker on LinkedIn while trying to get in touch with a designer at a particular company while I was in school, but there’s a fine line between “taking initiative and showing interest” and “creepy”. Be polite and don’t pester them if they don’t respond.
Read the blog, extrapolate, utilize. HR at any company isn’t looking at your portfolio, they are looking at YOU as an employee and as a person. There is a duality in design, as with many occupations. Your talent and experience gets you an appointment, your personality and behavior is scrutinized in the interview.
HR is not your friend or buddy. Doing something unorthodox isn’t going to win you and cred, so be careful about how you present yourself and your intentions. You build you contacts through other design professionals, business people, engineers, etc.
HR is sort of the gatekeeper or filter for the company you are trying to be a part of. ANY conversation that involves you, an HR professional, and a company you want to be a part of or are a part of should be considered like speaking with a detective or police officer. Think of the Miranda Rights when you speak about anything with HR in earshot:
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say or do may be used against you.
This isn’t meant to be distrustful of HR, it is best to know their purpose and what their function is.
Thanks for the HR Nasty link! A lot of great info there!