Graduation + No Job = Internship?

The Chicago Tribune recently wrote a piece on the importance of finding a good internship as they can provide important professional experience and valuable networking opportunities.

But what if I am looking for a job, not necessarily an internship?

My name is Sarah Bingham.  I am the new intern at IIDA, and here’s my story.

“These recent graduates have done everything society told them to do. They’ve worked hard, kept their noses clean and gotten a good education (in many cases from the nation’s best schools). They are ready and anxious to work. If we’re having trouble finding employment for even these kids, then we’re doing something profoundly wrong,” (NYTimes).

I am a recent college graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design.  I was involved in IIDA, the Green Oxford Sustainability Club, and Alpha Phi Omega (a service fraternity).  Throughout my college career, I had a total of four design-related internships and also worked on a freelance design renovation project.  I made sure to keep busy and further my education and experience in the field.

Since graduation, it has been extremely tough to find the job I want.

I’ve applied online, gone on several interviews, and even stopped by multiple firms in person to drop off my resume and try and speak with someone.  None of these tactics ended up being successful.  Each time I either had no response, an “I’m sorry, we’re not hiring”, or “we’ve chosen a more qualified candidate.” Let’s be honest, there probably are more qualified candidates with actual experience in the field considering the amount of people that have been laid off in the past year.  But I’ve been given advice about playing up my ability to adapt because I’m young and have never worked for another company before, or the fact that a company would be able to pay me less since I have less experience, etc.

So how did I nail an amazing internship?

Although I have yet to find a full time job, I know that the steps that I have taken are leading me closer and closer to my dream job.  Thankfully, I had a distant connection with someone who worked at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Through that connection, I was put in touch with the International Interior Design Association, and they asked if I could come in and interview.

I was thrilled.

IIDA offered me an internship position as a marketing and communications intern and I gladly accepted.  Although this internship does not involve any design work, it is an excellent opportunity for networking and also learning about marketing from a design perspective.  You really never know what the world is going to bring to you or how it’s going to come, but you better be ready for the challenge once it does.

Internships are a great way to try a career on to make sure you know whether or not you like it.

I’ve found this internship extremely helpful in connecting me to the design industry and keeping me updated and informed.   It is great to be working in an office rather than at a service job where I would not be furthering my knowledge in my career path.  It is important to have these experiences / internships so that you are prepared for the work place and are better prepared at meeting challenges once you find that job that you’ve always wanted.

Remember that interviews for internships should not be taken lightly.  You should treat it like a job search and be positive, honest and let your personality shine through in interviews.  Few internships are paid but treat it as a great way to learn and network within the field of your desired career path.  Always ask questions, act professional and don’t expect your first internship, or first job for that matter, to be your dream job.  

You’re going to have to work for it, pay your dues and soak up everything like a sponge.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I would love to hear about how your internships are going and how they have benefited you in your career path, so feel free to comment on this post!

Here are some great resources that have helped me in my search:

Tips for making your internship successful:

Say Hello to Underachieving:

“They were always given trophies just for showing up,” he said. “Now, they’re being told ‘no’ when they really want a job or an internship.”

Unpaid Work, but They Pay for Privilege:

“So growing numbers of new graduates — or, more often, their parents — are paying thousands of dollars to services that help them land internships.”

One Benefit of Co-op Education: Likelihood of a Job:

“The recession could give new life to co-operative education, programs that combine college classes with jobs in related fields that have been around for more than a century.”

Internship Is Secured, but a Seat? That’s Tricky:


“The bumper crop of interns, whose placements end July 31, is the result of an increase in both applications and the percentage of students who accepted offers, most likely a fallout of the recession, as many corporate law firms have cut back on their summer programs. In addition to the intensified competition to score a full-time — and paid — job after graduation, the intern glut has put a premium on office chairs, desk space and meaty assignments.”

No Foot in the Door:


“In response, some schools are going out of their way to create internships or apprentice-like experiences for students, including folding real-world consulting into their curriculums in an effort to make their students more marketable.”

Campus jobs: Students find experience more motivating than money:,0,272591.story?page=1
”Cromidas says the community center allows students to take on responsibilities and really values what students are capable of doing, a huge motivating factor for those involved.”

College grads must work even harder to find jobs:,0,1354432.story
“What students did years ago isn’t enough today,” said Amy Saul, director of career development at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. For example, today’s students are encouraged not only to participate in an internship program, but in two or three to boost their chances of being hired.”


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