The co-op program is one of the most unique aspects of an RIT education. All majors here require some sort of co-op or experiential learning. My major, graphic design, doesn't actually require a c-op. But my roommate's major, industrial engineering, requires five! Even though my major doesn't require a co-op, I don't see why anyone wouldn't take advantage of all the great resources here to find one! I plan on spending my summer working as a graphic designer, getting paid and getting college credit! (That's the cool thing about co-op's-- you don't pay tuition while you're on co-op and you're getting paid to work full-time in your field!)
I began my search by making a list of companies to apply to. My list includes everything from Nike, The Buffalo Sabres organization, R/GA, Conde Nast, and Anthropologie, to name a few. My advisor recommended I apply to 30-40 different companies so I am spending my Saturday night watching Toy Story with my roommate and researching all kinds of companies, big and small, to apply to. The cool thing about graphic design is that there are a lot of ways to apply my skills. I can apply to graphic design firms, larger companies with in-house design departments, non-profit organizations....you name it! Every business has a need for graphic designers and hopefully, one of the companies I apply to is looking for an intern!
Because of my line of work, I need to submit a portfolio along with my resume and cover letter when applying for positions. While some companies prefer a physical portfolio that gets mailed to them, others like to see a digital portfolio. I can arrange a PDF binder of my work to submit online, but I am also creating an on-line portfolio, aka- a website, that potential employers can look at. A website is a great way to showcase my skills because it not only shows off my design work, but my web design and programming skills (which are still being developed, I might add). This quarter, I'm taking Interactive Media Design, which will help improve my Flash (the program used to create flash websites and animations) skills. I'm learning a lot in this class, especially the things I need to know to create my portfolio site!
Between the classes I'm taking, and my advisor in the co-op office, I am getting all the help I need to confidently search for a co-op. RIT is the place to come if you're looking for an education that will prepare you for that terrifying "real world" everyone keeps talking about! I'll try and keep you all posted on my search. In the meantime, if anyone knows of any graphic design internships or co-ops for the summer of 2010, you know who to call!