This letter from ASLA National Student Representative Paul Fusco appears in the latest issue of LAND Online. Please let your voice be heard by using the comment system below.
It is starting to get to that time of the year again when students are looking to apply for internships in their field of study for the upcoming summer. It also becomes a busy time for firms looking for that ideal intern. Their search through all the applications can become a daunting task. What catches their attention?
In my research I have been trying to zero in on the key components for a dynamic resume, cover letter, and portfolio. These are probably the most important items you need to address when applying for an intern position. The first impression of who you are definitely comes into play. Added to the physical application is the interview, which too can be nerve-racking.
Dealing with creating a resume seems like a simple process and you can find an outline online, but for many design majors there is more to look at than just the information on the page. You have to think about it in many forms such as having to deal with page layout, page size and shape, and also color. There are many different ways to present your resume, but you must figure out what works best for you. These issues and more must also be addressed when dealing with your portfolio, such as what projects you include and how you describe each of them. It might be necessary to rework projects you have gotten comments on from your professors. Then, after choosing your projects, you have to decide how to present them and what kind of theme or order you will have to your portfolio. But there is an important factor that needs to be kept in mind when designing the layout for both your resume and portfolio. Have you highlighted what shows your talent and when it is too much or too little?
After completing all the components of your application, you now have to decide which firms you would like to apply to. This is a hard part of the process, because you don’t know which firms are looking for interns or how many people they will accept. Is the internship paid or for experience only? Besides all of that, you have the issue of location. Are there firms around your college or your home, or do you need to move? These are important questions that have to be asked to see the range of firms you will apply to. Once you have decided which firms to apply to you have to deal with the difficulty of figuring out how to contact the firm. Do they want you to email your cover letter and resume first, then send your portfolio? Or do they want it all mailed or emailed as a package? The application process has many different components to it, and it is important to handle it properly.
I am interested in hearing from you about what you feel has worked and not worked with your resumes, cover letters, and portfolios in the past. Also, it would be great to hear from professionals about what they like and dislike seeing in applications from students.