Thursday, March 7, 2019

My internship hunt

I was inspired by this Reddit post titled My Last 4 Months of Job Applications to create my own multi-step sankey chart. I used a free version of Flourish, a very well-designed and intuitive data visualization app.

My application process: 17 applied, 18 cold-emailed, 7 total responses, 28 non-responses, 3 phone interviews, 1 offer, 2 ghosted me. Chart built in Flourish.

Creating this chart was a simple process because Flourish has a plug-and-play interface that's accessible to non-data-minded folks like me.

Data table for multi-step sankey chart.

Medical illustration is a tricky field because there are few formal intern positions outside of scientific/medical illustration firms that hire highly specialized, let alone medical, illustrators. So I knew I had to start early and cast a wide net. (Fortunately, I have the luxury of flexibility, so I applied for positions all over the country.)

I began my process as early as November through March. I started off applying for the traditional medical illustration firms, using EmpoweredNews' list of major players in the global medical animation market. Because formal intern positions are not explicitly listed, I ended up cold-emailing these companies either via their general contact email or respective people within the company, thanks to LinkedIn.

I found that emailing yielded a higher success rate than I originally anticipated, and 5 out of 18 companies responded to me, either to tell me they do not offer internship positions, to give me advice, or to recommend me to apply the following year. And two of those email respondents offered me interviews in the form of, respectively, a design exercise and panel presentation (I assume that I didn't get the positions, being ghosted).

Having remembered Shiz Aoki's AMA on Reddit, I cast a wider net on Google by searching different configurations of the following words: science, communication, technical illustrator, biomedical, scientific, visual design, animation, animator, illustration, designer, visualization, and others that I can't currently think of. I usually prefaced my title of choice with the term "intern," combined with "health" or "medical."

Using this strategy, I submitted 17 formal job applications over the course of the past three months via direct company websites or applicant tracking systems like Greenhouse, Workday, Indeed, Glassdoor, AngelList, or whatever link Google had found for me.

Google's very useful job search module.

Typically, a cover letter, resume, and portfolio sufficed for each formal job application as supplementary material. Few companies (maybe a total of two to three) asked for references. I'd have to say that the most cumbersome part of the process was not the cover letters, but having to create an account for each company at which I applied. (Thank goodness I use a password manager.) 

Today, I am very fortunate to have submitted a formal application to a company whose type of client I am familiar with. I had the opportunity to do a phone interview, and despite what I felt like was a rocky technical interview, I was given an offer. I am absolutely ebullient to have the privilege to work as a medical illustrator over the summer. Most of all, I can't wait to be handed complex real-life problems and work with highly competent teams to help build solutions.

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