How do I make them want me?
May 29, 2007 9:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm attempting to apply for a job/internship in a very unusual, creative field. I have as much training as I can get in this area without working as an apprentice or assistant, and that doesn't amount to much. So my question is, how do I get into an exclusive training program when it's impossible to have much prior experience or a portfolio without being in an exclusive training program?

Of course one way is to enter the industry in another capacity and to work my way up from there, but before I try that I'd like to take one (or more) big hit at it from the outside.

So far I've sent CVs and cover letters and have received no response. When I've tried to call to speak directly with someone who works in the creative side of the field, I'm immediately redirected to HR who instructs me to send my CV and cover letter. bleh.

As I see it, my only (non stalker-like) way to have direct contact with one of the artists is to send a letter that will compel them to WANT to help me. I've drafted this letter a million times and most versions seem to revolve around my undying passion for the art and the greatness of the person I'm writing to. Each time I try to write the letter from my heart, but my heart must be a real brown-noser because the letters are so sappy and gushy that when I reread them, I'm not sure if I should puke or cry.

Maybe a letter is not the best idea. Maybe I'm just a terrible writer. Regardless, I desperately want to work in this field and will do anything to make that happen. I just don't have any ideas. Help! Help! Help!!!
posted by defreckled to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it's the field you mention in your profile, then I think your best option will likely involve a lot of nearly obsessive persistence to reach people.

That said, what's to stop you from trying to develop a few examples of your own work. Various extracts are available, and purifying some of your own essences would demonstrate your seriousness.
posted by Good Brain at 9:29 AM on May 29, 2007

Brian Eno is an amateur in this field, perhaps a reading of "Year With Swollen Appendices" might have some insight that you can use.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 AM on May 29, 2007

Instead of trying to get into the big prestigious program, is there a small local craftsperson you can work with as an apprentice? Have you checked out all of the training programs mentioned under the "Where can I find out about other perfumery courses?" question on this page?

I don't know anything about your particular field, but I used to work in book publishing, which is another sort of "specialty" creative field that has more applicants than jobs. Methods that people would use to get a job included: getting to know someone who works in the industry and is willing to pass you along to someone who can interview you, taking a summer training course, or getting an internship.
posted by MsMolly at 10:39 AM on May 29, 2007

I guess that I should rephrase my original question. What I need to know is if anyone has tips for writing a letter that can simulateously convey my extreme enthusiam for the field and respect for the artist. Any ideas?
posted by defreckled at 11:46 AM on May 29, 2007

When I've tried to call to speak directly with someone who works in the creative side of the field...
It's still a cold call to someone with not so much time which is worth a lot of money to them/the firm, and they have people guarding that time. If you can talk to them by knowing someone who knows someone (even who knows someone), the personal contact can get you in the door enough to talk to them. This is as opposed to going through the people who guard their time.

Don't know someone? Consider looking at your university (or whatever's) alumni list for people in the same field or tangentially-related fields (e.g. this firm's clients). Or, explain to the people taking the calls that you're a (person with some experience, skills) who wants to hear how (creative person) got into this position, and would love to talk to them. Less likely to succeed than knowing someone, but better if you don't approach it as "I want to get hired" right off the bat.

Maybe a letter is not the best idea.
Others here who work in unusual creative fields can poo-poo this if they want, but an inventor colleague of mine recently went to a bunch of companies with a graphic illustration - clean, professional looking, creative, funny - which illustrated why they needed to talk to him about his invention. This made him and his profile stand out without disclosing the technical blahblah which was still not protected by patent. Sounds very similar to what you're trying to do to sell your skills...
posted by whatzit at 11:59 AM on May 29, 2007

Seeing your clarification:
If that approach sounds intriguing, I'd attack it myself by separating out the messages you want to convey, and finding an approach to that which matches the creatives you're targeting.

The illustrations worked, and he was contacted by several companies in the targeted industry. He ended up licensing the specific technology to the world industry leader, and is now paid (well) by them to "invent stuff."
posted by whatzit at 12:02 PM on May 29, 2007

Ok, if you want tips for the letter, my advice is to think very hard about what skills you have that would make the reader want to do something for you once they've read your letter. If you're willing to take an unpaid internship and there are enough of those sorts of positions available, then a letter talking about your enthusiasm for the subject and what you know about the person you're writing to might be enough to get you in the door. After all, if it doesn't cost them anything to give you a shot, then simply showing enthusiasm might be enough. But if you're trying to get into a competitive program where spaces are limited, then you need to use your letter to show them what you can bring to the table that other candidates might not be able to. If you're trying for the perfume industry, I'm going to guess that enthusiasm isn't all you would need. You would probably need some kind of evidence that you could take the training they give you and make use of it. Right? (I could be totally off-base here. I'm just guessing it's something more like painting or acting where you have to have an innate talent instead of just being willing and trainable.) So focus less on the kissing up and more on what makes you a good bet.
posted by MsMolly at 1:39 PM on May 29, 2007

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