Finding Internships and Jobs at Big Companies

Good evening,

My name is Ross B. and I had some questions regarding internships that your company has knowledge of. I am currently overseas, but I am trying to find an internship with DC comics, New York division, but I am not entirely sure how I should go about doing that. How would you suggest an upcoming artist/comic book writer get an internship at such a prestigious company?

 -Ross B.

NY Creative Interns Comic Book

Image Courtesy of Thinkstock

Dear Ross and other intern hopefuls,

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a question like this, especially in regards to well-known companies like DC Comics. It can be hard to find internship/job listings for specific departments on company websites, since most companies in today’s world are owned by a larger company (for example, DC Comics is owned by Time Warner, Inc., so job listings would be placed on the Time Warner website, not the DC Comics website.) Below are a few of my tips and tricks for finding (and getting) an internship or job with a larger company*:

1. Build a Portfolio
It’s never too early to start working on a portfolio of artwork or writing samples that you can submit along with your resume and cover letter. Big companies only have so many internship positions available, and usually only accept a certain number of applications for consideration each semester. Therefore, they’re more apt to call in students and grads who show a serious interest in the field over those who look like they just need something to put on their resume.

2. Check Parent Company Websites Daily and Learn Their Policies
If you don’t know which company owns the one you want to work for, and there isn’t a clear indication on the website or FAQ’s page, just ask. On the contact page, there should be a basic info email address that you can direct this question to.

Most of the time, internship policies will be posted on the company’s website, like when internships start, when applications are due by, how to send in applications, etc., so check them as often as you can for updates. Also, make sure your college fits their internship guidelines as well; it would be awful to go through all the paperwork only to find out that your college only supports a two credit internship when the company needs you to do a four credit internship. I’m sure each college is different, but my internship credits translated to amount of hours worked at the company. Two credits was a 250 hour internship (two days a week for 8 hours a day during a 16 week semester), three credits was 380 hours, etc. Find out how your college runs its internships, and make sure you have room in your schedule.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of research about the company you want to work for, even for an internship. Employers will be quite impressed if you can relate the reason why you want to work there to the company’s mission statement in an interview or cover letter.

3. Connections, Connections, Connections.
We talk about the importance of connections on this blog quite a lot, and for a good reason. I had three amazing internships while in college, and I got two of them through connections that I already knew. I got my internship with DC Comics by telling my guidance counselor that I was looking for an internship somewhere in publishing. As it turned out, her nephew is the video game and media designer for DC Comics, and he happened to be very good friends with the head of the Licensed Publishing division. My resume was passed on from my counselor, to her nephew, and finally to the department head who called me in for an interview. My third internship, at Sterling Publishing, started when a friend of my then boyfriend told me about the listing. I was called in for an interview, and lo and behold, the person looking for an intern was a former Hofstra student whom I had previously worked with.

True, it’s not exactly fair to those who haven’t had the time to network, but employers do tend to lean towards candidates who come with a strong recommendation from someone they trust. You never know who will wind up working at a company that you want to work for, so reach out to everyone you possibly can. Go to networking events, join some clubs. Be polite; don’t burn bridges unless you absolutely have to. Even people you don’t get along with personally can be great professional contacts.

4. Don’t get Discouraged and Don’t Focus on Only One Option
Remember your junior/senior year in high school when everyone was asking you which colleges you were applying to? Well, the internship situation is very similar. When you apply for your dream internship, you might also want to apply for some internships at smaller or more varied companies. That way, even if you don’t get your dream internship one semester, you may have another internship that you can do. You can always re-apply for that dream internship later, and you’ll have more experience to show them next time.

*Bonus tip
For those specifically wanting an internship in comics publishing: remember that there are other departments besides editorial. The sales, marketing, publicity, production, media, and product merchandising teams need interns too. I guarantee you’ll still be able to meet with the editors even if you’re working in another department; just ask.

I hope these tips can help you land your dream internship or entry level job. I know it’s hard out there right now, but don’t lose hope– you’ll find something.

Steph Lippitt

Do you have any tips for finding an internship or job at a big company, or any questions about internships you would like answered? If so, tell us in the comments section.

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