View Full Version : Internships 101
February 10th, 2007, 10:03 PM
Now I'm no intern guru, as I haven't even started my internship yet. (please pray all goes well and nothing bad happens)
I noticed there are a lot of high school and college students on the forum who probably could use some tips and information on being an intern,getting an internship, learning to be professional,etc. So ANY input would be great. Perhaps you guys could pitch in some tips, share some internship stories, tell us how to pick up the boss's Starbucks in less than five minutes,and all that jazz.
I'll start off with some questions...
-Whats the difference between internships with graphic design firms, illustrators, toy companies apprenticeships with Fine artists and internships with game studios/movie studios?
-Is the myth about the intern does the dirty work true? 'Dirty work' meaning, pick up my starbucks,call pizza hut, clean the computer, wash the brushes,trim the paper,etc.
-As an intern, what should I look out for in the studio? Like what are the important things I should observe and know about.Should I sit in with client meetings if they let me, should I ask questions as theyre working on something, should I take notes?
-What are the dos and donts?
Any input would be great, so please post! Thank you! :D
February 10th, 2007, 11:05 PM
Hey Dawn! Lemme see if I can offer some perspective for ya... in general, every internship is a unique snowflake... well, more like no two are alike.
1.) I've seen internships in an animation studio, a toy company and a video game company. I've been an intern in a toy company. Each one had entirely different roles to fulfill and you will find enormous differences in studios that are in the same industry - an intern as defined by Massive Black would be completely different than an intern defined by Leapfrog. It depends on your product, the company's workflow, how large the company is, how much your boss is PMSing...
At the toy company, I was immediately doing design work when I became an intern. They needed the help! I was generating new artwork and ideas off the bat, but I was also mounting prints onto foamcore, photographing products for reference, etc. The stuff I was doing outside of the design work was certainly bottom of the barrel fodder, but in no way was I getting coffee for my boss or that sort of thing. In general, a company wants to take on interns so that they can train them to be designers and eventually use them if they are hired.
...but there are exceptions to every rule. At my current job (large video game studio) a friend of mine is getting stuck in intern hell. He is talented and was hired as an intern so that he could be trained and hired as an artist after he graduated. I heard these exact words from my boss. He was taken on as an intern and was cleaning up old artwork, doing spreadsheets, making laminated cards with the contact info of everyone in the department, assembling bookshelves... he was the stereotypical intern despite the fact that they knew he was an excellent artist. The day came when he was hired as a "Production Assistant" but none of his actual roles changed. He is fighting for a position as an Animation Assistant, which was the role he was promised after his internship, but he has to re-interview with the department as if he was just walking in off the street. Sometimes big companies will cock block interns for reasons WAY beyond me, but we are still waiting to see how this unfolds. So frustrating!
2.) See above. I have seen it come true, but I have lived the opposite. It depends on the studio, from what I gather.
3.) Observe the workflow of the company. Learn who answers to who, and try to be as vocal and efficient as possible. Never be afraid to offer ideas or to have a different opinion about a project - a lot of interns get inferiority complexes and stay silent and are thus ignored. Ask to be included in as many meetings as possible so that you have an oppurtunity to be heard... or even just to listen. No one will know what you would like to do at the company if you don't tell them!
4.) Do be on time. Do NOT take coffee breaks every day. Do ask tons of questions, as confident and friendly as you can be. Do NOT become a wallflower or be afraid to ask "stupid" questions.
That's my two cents anyway, but there's prolly a host of things I haven't experienced. Let's hear some others chime in!
And good luck Dawn, I'm sure whichever studio id lucky enough to have you will vallue your hard work, your wit and your sharp artistic mind ;)
February 10th, 2007, 11:56 PM
February 11th, 2007, 11:40 AM
I did an internship at an animation studio, and at my current job at a toy and novelty company we have interns come in that I help supervise.
My own animation internship was great - no getting coffee for peeps, thank you very much! Had the opportunity to observe and participate in a variety of meetings with the different departments to see how an animated tv show was produced; since my interest was in CG modeling at school, I primarily worked in the 3D modeling department and learned new software (Lightwave and Maya), and produced a couple of assets (a dollhouse, plate of nachos, and a fire hydrant) that were actually used in the show; I also did a variety of production assistant duties like putting up storyboards on foamcore, assembling the shot lists in binders, and helping HR with the multitude of incoming demo reels and resumes for jobs by documenting what came in and passing out the reels to the appropriate departments. I loved my internship and had a much better understanding of this particular animation studio's production pipeline and where I'd like to fit in if given the opportunity to work for the company in the future (or any similar animation studio).
While the 3D modeling and rigging department guys were definitely willing to answer my questions, they did NOT appreciate any hovering over their shoulder while they were working...unless they specifically wanted to show a particular work process. One of their previous interns was evidently a guy that had little to ask but was always caught standing and watching them work...so they made sure at the beginning to mention that they did not appreciate it. :)
The interns that I work with at my current job are primarily studying toy design from FIT in NYC; although we also work with interns from SCAD and a few other places. On day one, they are immediately brought in to doing production work as we definitely can use the creative help! They are drawing and/or working on the computer (Photoshop), and we set them up so that they are basically acting as junior production designers. They attend all creative meetings, most production meetings, and sit in on vendor and licensed meetings (we have people coming in from WB and Disney among others) if or when we have them to discuss upcoming consumer product development for the particular licensee. Depending on their specific goals and interests, my creative team will bring in our own resources (like artists books, production design stuff, toys, old student portfolios, etc.) and we'll have mini creative sessions with the interns and the art team to work on areas that "need improvement". Not every intern is the same, so alot depends on the questions they ask, their interests for their future careers after college, and so on. It's always fun working with them, though - they're all so different with a variety of backgrounds and goals! :)
The only thing they don't do is go to China to visit with our office and product showroom in Hong Kong, or visit with the creative teams working at the factories. The idea is that we want our interns to be at the top of the list when the company is hiring additional product designers.
February 11th, 2007, 08:48 PM
I have never been an intern but at the company where I was, which was making pc edutainment titles, I had to work/train/help supervise many of them. We used some generic multimedia interns as level designers and testers, we asked them to convert/assemble images and to do menial graphic/file processing tasks. I never saw an intern being ordered to fetch coffee or do shitty stuff. The animation interns were usually asked to clean up or color animations, they were given a basic but proper training on the animation software we were using. When we had programmer interns they worked on the code and did some testing & level design, many of these were later hired.
February 12th, 2007, 10:38 AM
Ooh, great thread!
I did an internship at LucasArts, and here at Turbine I mentored a few interns, and worked with several others.
At neither company did I ever see an intern fetch coffee. Yes, there is often grunt work, but itís degrade-the-model variety of gruntwork; in other words, itís the same sort of gruntwork that you have to do as a full-time employee anyway.
Most of my internship was spent painting textures for game environments. The only real difference between me and a regular staff artist was that I worked slower and had a million questions to ask.
Here in the games industry, internships exist largely to fill the gap between higher education and a full-time job. They arenít a formal part of the educational process, in the way that internships for doctors are; instead, they are a way for companies to try out ďrisky investmentsĒ in potential employees who may or may not turn out to be good full-time hires. The intern gets a few months learning the ropes from the inside, and if she turns out not to be a good match for the company at the end of those months, sheís now a lot more likely to get hired at a similar company. Internships are also a way for a company to bring in a new employee when there just isnít enough money to make a full-time hire. The pay is low, but itís an opportunity for someone with no experience to move into the ranks of the experienced, which will make a huge difference when it comes time to find the next job.
Despite tatianaís experience with artists not appreciating being watched, one of the most important things for an intern to do at an internship is to look over peoples shoulders. Itís the best way to learn Ė just watch out for experienced employees who are feeling cranky or shy. Ask what folks are up to. People have a tendency to enjoy talking about themselves (and by extension their jobs) and having their work admired, so take advantage of that!
One of the downsides of my internship was that there wasnít room in our teamís cubicle area for me to be seated with the rest of the team. Instead, I was seated several cubicles away, which meant I couldnít casually learn anything from the other members of my team. Every question involved a walk. Due to that, in helping to mentor of interns, as far as possible I have made sure that interns and new employees are seated as close to the center of the team as possible. (I have even picked up my stuff and moved to a desk at the perimeter to make room for nooblings.)
This isnít just for interns and new employees, though. On our team, our computers are set up so that within small groups we can all glance over to see what our neighbors are up to, because we believe that this sort of learning-by-watching should apply to everyone. Even employees who have been around long enough to get dusty have things they can learn. *brushes off some more dust*.
February 12th, 2007, 11:41 PM
This is a fabulous thread. I was wondering, as a college student, how some of you landed your internships, and where you looked for them/how you got your opportunities. Was it a summer internship? Full time? I'd love to know.
February 13th, 2007, 08:12 AM
THANK YOU SOOO MUCH for all the help and input. It's really helped out and at least I can go into the internship knowing a bit more. I really appreciate all the input :D I actually just ran out of questions to ask hahaha. But thanks,really :
But just to confirm any form of internship can be used in a resume right? Whether formal like I had to apply go through a process or not,etc. It still counts as 'experience' that jobs always have in their requirements?
Sapphire- Yay! I can answer something! haha. Anyway basically from what I know, its all about getting out there. I actually never expected getting this internship (this summer) but it started out with me going to a convention. And I sort of have this mentality that I gotta meet as many people, make friends and converse and pick up as much knowledge as I can when I go to these things and thats how it went. The guys who I'm going to be interning there for saw parts of my portfolio,cause a friend of mine was like, "hey check out this kids stuff" and they asked me to send some of my stuff in, and since they lived close to me, I just walked to their studio/store, showed them my work and theyre really nice guys. They were willing to share their knowledge, about silkscreening and I was able to chat with them about the industry and all that and whenever I'd go buy their products(as I was a fan of their merch line way before) I'd say hi. And they eventually asked me if I had time this summer and I was like Hell Yeah.
So basically it comes down to what I learned from Jason Manley about marketing. Getting out there and grasping any opportunity while holding on to your integrity. But yeah I followed that and basically what I do is I attend any convention,comic fest,etc. I try attend comic book workshops,comic book writing,poetry readings,shows graphic design,fine arts and maybe even anime fashion competitions (although I had missed that :( ) As long as it interests you, and its not something that'll FOR SURE bore you to death. Attend anything and everything you want, cause nothings ever lost when you go, cept maybe a few bucks or a twenty or more for admission. ALWAYS bring some form of your best artwork or your sketches, whether it be a sketchbook or you portfolio and just chat with them and they might even ask if they could see it.
Another thing I learned from a friend who used to work in the States who came here, ( a graphic designer) is getting the market to know your trade mark. Im not completely sure whether this can be applied for concept art/illustration/animation, but for graphic design what he does is he has his own "logo" which people associate to him. Like for me, Ive got this bat angel as my logo and basically he told me to print stickers. Hand em out. Get people to recognize your mark. In concept art or illustration or animation, what could replace the sticker would be calling cards :) hand em out to anyone willing. And make em look pretty and attractive, especially for dorks like me who collect calling cards. Hehe.
To sum up all the blabs that came out of my mouth, is just get out there and just get out there. Always have your work with you and be friendly.Talk to people. Even if they dont help you in your carreer at least you'll make some friends.
So those are my two cents. Im not as knowledgable as most of the people here who've had wayy more experience but I hope it helped.
February 13th, 2007, 11:06 AM
Adding my response here from the other internship thread regarding how to land an internship....here's what I know:
The internship that I had at an animation studio, and the internships that are offered through the toy company that I work for currently - are for students only, not recent grads or non-students. I'm sure there could be some exceptions, though.
Generally internships are only for students because the internship is also considered a class at the school, follows the semester or quarter or summer session, and because school credit is gained for their particular degree. The studio I interned at had a relationship with the school that I was going to - and I knew some people that worked there so I had their support and interest as well; the company that I work at currently has a relationship with FIT and SCAD through their internship programs (my Art Director is an alumni from SCAD). I believe that in some instances there are also tax write-offs for the company (I'm not sure how that works, but that's what I've heard). The internship requires the students to submit reports to their class instructor and this allows the teacher to moniter the student/intern to make sure that the student is gaining value during the internship; and that the company is a good partnership for the school for future consideration.
If an internship that is offered isn't for students or isn't partnered with a school, you have little guarantee that you will be gaining useful experience for your career or have opportunities to work with a mentor in your field of interest...and don't forget, it's not what's considered a "living wage". Internships are frequently offered with rather low pay. And in some cases, no pay at all.
However, if you're not a student and you're interested in an internship, contact the company that you would like to have an internship with and see what requirements they have. Check the company website - sometimes they have that info posted. It also doesn't hurt to ask so call their HR department or send an email...and it definitely shows that you'd like to work for the company in the future.
February 14th, 2007, 01:56 AM
1) Are the internships usually reserved for fresh grads, or do companies consider all applicants for a role?
2) Do applicants go through the same sort of rigourous interview process for internships, as full time positions, or are they slightly less formal (i.e. are there art tests that must be completed as well, for positions like these)?
3) Are there established procedures or protocol for applying to these internships, or is it mostly referrals that land an interview? And if you don't really have those sorts of industry connections, how would you go about inquiring into internships without being perceived as a nuisance, or having your inquiry sent straight to the delete folder?
I have rarely, if ever, seen advertised spots for interns, and they seem even more difficult to land than regular salaried jobs. There's so much competition for a handful of proper concepting spots; I had thought it would be more beneficial for someone like me to make a slower transition through an internship role, where you're afforded the time to learn as you earn the commensurate experience. Yet even those positions seem next to impossible to get! Anyways, if some of you could kindly shed some light I'd greatly appreciate it. I know Seedling has a great thread going, and I've read through it many a time but thought I'd follow up a bit more. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.