Congratulations on being interested in web design. It takes a special person to enter this field and meet the demands which this career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make web designers successful. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow web designers to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.
Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .
Ken recommends the following next steps:
Hi Samantha! Great question.
There are a couple parts to this that may be helpful to consider:
- It all depends on what companies are in or around your town. If you've been searching for web design agencies and not finding much, you might want to try looking for companies that have websites that a core part of their business (such as a store that also sells products online).
- You will commonly experience that people have different definitions for what a web designer does. That means some companies may care that you have basic understanding of HTML and CSS, while others may not care and would focus more on your visual design skills. Both are valid requests and very useful skills to have, but I would suggest spending a little time thinking about what skills you want to improve and seek out an internship that would depend on you for them.
There are also many practical things you can do to help you get that internship. If you have not already, I would do some of these ahead of reaching out to companies for an internship:
- Design your own portfolio. The experience of designing it is a good exercise for you, and is something the hiring manager can use to quickly get a sense of where your strengths are. It may be valuable for you to state on your portfolio that you're looking for an internship and to express what skills you're excited to learn and build on.
- If you don't have much web design work to put in your portfolio, you can design fictional websites to exemplify your skills (just make sure you are honest and communicate that they are fictional companies).
- (Optional) Develop your portfolio, and make your code available to download or inspect. Many people host their code on github.com, but you could also pass your developed portfolio over in a zip file if the company you're applying to has asked for development examples. This is of course if you don't have other websites you've developed, and if you're applying for an internship that would require some development skill. If you don't want to develop your own portfolio, you could use sites like Squarespace to build on a template to showcase your work. Just be careful not to lead with the expectation that you can develop a site like your own portfolio if you do not yet have the skills necessary to do it! It is better to be honest there and state what you're excited to learn during the internship :)
I hope you find this helpful!