Possible to get a product design job with no internships?

Hey Everyone,
I recently graduated from college and received my BFA in Industrial Design after a long 4 years. The thing about those 4 years that has become problematic for me is the fact I could not obtain an internship within that time. I have been sending out my portfolio and resume for an internship with no responses. After contacting some of the companies I applied for, turns out most companies (all, in my case) do not give internships to college graduates. I would really like to get into a job in product design before its too late. Is there anything I can I do at this point to get my foot in the door? Do any of you have similar stories to share that would make me feel better? :cry:

You are going to have to network a lot and possibly freelance or work contract… start setting up informational interviews (IE ask people to coffee)

Come up with a design solution. It can be even something small like papercraft for business cards, or wooden toys. Try to find a table at local crafts/makers shows. Then start generating contacts and reputation based on your work.

I agree with Yo. It is possible, but you will have to work harder than the others. Look in your local area and find out what design firms are around. Set up meetings with them to have them review your portfolio and give you feedback. Don’t go in there asking for a job but more go in asking for their advice on what to do in this economic climate. You never know after you show them your work they may offer you freelance work or at the very least you have made a contact with a local firm that if you follow up with every now and then can be a contact for the rest of your career.

Just keep pushing and you will get there.

The hard part about not having internship experience, is that often the portfolio of a graduate without an internship lacks maturity. I went to a school that didn’t value internships at the time, however, now as the person doing the hiring, I really see the value. I have encouraged my own daughter to do as many internships as she can while in college for this reason. So, now that you have missed part of your education, it will be harder to make this up. Your competition is steep and you need every bit of advantage you can possibly drum up. At this point, I would try getting some professionals to mentor you with the idea that they might hire you on as an intern. Be flexible about where you intern and what you get paid. You might have to work as a bartender on weekends to support your internship. Another idea is to be creative about living situations - house sit, animal /pet watching, etc. Best of luck to you.

Thanks for the info and encouragement guys. I have talked around and have been building connections through family with various local manufacturers in hopes of producing some of my ideas that I have kept under wraps. I am in the process of working on prototypes with them at the moment. I also received a response (at last) from a local product design firm offering an unpaid internship which I am most certainly going to accept. Its funny, after posting this discussion and feeling down, things are starting to come together. We will see how it goes. Thanks all

I agree with the above, but how do you view a situation where I got an interest of a non-ID company with my work, yet they are not going to offer me an internship, but “buy” my stuff?

Also, what is your opinion on getting an internship in a non-English speaking country (Ukraine), in a company that doesn’t have its own website and where the staff don’t speak English or any other European language? I mean, there are ID offices in former Soviet countries like Uzbekistan, so you might have an applicant from that country. Would you give a preference to an applicant who got experience in his native country or someone who got it in major industrialised ones, like South Korea, UK, Canada, etc?

In addition to experience and some real world skills, the other advantage of internships is that it gives students a bit more of a sense of what they do and don’t want to do… if you intern at a big corp and a small consulting group, in CE and footwear, you a going to have a pretty strong direction and hopefully stay at your first job a bit, allowing your employer to invest in you…

I did not have a lot of internships (just interned at a model shop), but I freelanced for 6 months out of school and it helped.

I have been thinking the same thing since I graduated in June this year… The problem was, my University is not near a City, so there are very little if any opportunities to intern whilst i was doing my studies! I then graduated in June and spent my summer in the US trying to find other ways of making me more employable by travelling the world!

Whilst in the US i walked into a couple of design companies in California, some told me to apply online… some told me I needed some previous experience already. But even as you suggested doing free lance YO, to get freelance work, i assume you need recognition, but if you have no experience how do you get to that point.

Basically I am finding it very difficult to know where to go from here! Currently improving my portfolio waiting for any job opportunities, or shall i say searching for any job opportunities, but if i get the same reply that i need some experience, how do i get that experience.

If i were to offer to intern for free i would have to move away from home to find a company which means i would have to afford to live… Yet working for free makes that impossible