3 Tips for Applying to the Chronicle Books Design Fellowship

It’s recruiting season for recent and soon-to-be college grads! And if you’re excited by our publishing and will have a design degree by June, Chronicle Books could be the next step in your career.

We have spots for 4 book-loving designers to join our team for a year as part of our Design Fellowship program. As a design fellow, you’ll work alongside our creative teams to make and market the distinctive books and gifts you associate with Chronicle Books.

Chronicle Books Design Fellowship

Interested in applying? Applications are due to our office on Monday, April 2nd. Here are some tips for putting your best foot forward in your application for the Design Fellowship!

1. Read the Job Description Carefully

A job description is meant to give you insight into the day-to-day of the position, and what the employer wants out of their candidates. Each of our fellowship positions—Books and Gifts Designer, Children’s Books and Gifts Designer, Marketing Designer, and Industrial Designer—has slightly different requirements, so make sure your application materials demonstrate your ability to do the job you want.

For example, for the books and gifts fellowships, we are looking for people who come in with the skills needed to design a book. This means we are hiring designers for the fellowship, not illustrators, photographers, or underwater basket weavers* (unless they are also designers). We specifically call out an ability to “style long form text with multiple hierarchies” because we ask fellows to do this type of work. A strong candidate for these roles will submit a portfolio that is heavy on publication layouts, and light on other design projects like posters, web interfaces, illustrations, or photography.

Chronicle Books Design Fellowship

By contrast, the Marketing Design position calls for a “strong understanding of brand.” This fellow will work on a variety of branding initiatives for the company, so an ideal candidate for this role might submit a portfolio with many different types of design projects including posters, packaging, web, publications, and other branding.

2. Know What Chronicle Books Does, and How You Could Help

You’ve figured out from our name that we are a publishing company. With a little bit of research, you may see that we are inspired by the enduring magic of books. But could you pick a Chronicle book out of a lineup of books? Can you name a few favorite titles, and tell us why they speak to you? Do you know who our competitors are?

These questions may seem basic, but we want candidates who understand what we do** and who are passionate about using their skills, creativity, and brilliance to contribute to that work. This is true for everyone at Chronicle Books, from the editors to the IT pros. If you’re applying for the Industrial Design fellowship, for instance, show us how your love for product design and your design philosophy could relate to our publishing.

Chronicle Books Design Fellowship

3. Show Us Who You Are, and Make Us Want to Work with You

Ninety percent of cover letters we receive start with “I have loved books since I was a child.” It’s great that you have a lifelong relationship with books, but this knowledge doesn’t help us distinguish you from other candidates. It doesn’t give us insight into what drives your creativity, what makes you special, and what makes you a great fit for Chronicle.

As designers, we are interested in the overall presentation of your materials. Consider the typographical choices you make in your resume and application, and how they go together. Show off your shining personality and unique point of view. And finally, make sure you follow directions and proofread everything! Typos and grammatical errors can signal a lack of attention to detail or a tepid interest in the position. Show us that you can handle big-picture design and the little details with a polished, mistake-free application.

Want to learn more about the Design Fellowship? Check out the Fellowship website for FAQs and applications, meet our current fellows on the blog, and watch the video below.

*We love illustrators, photographers, and other artists, even if they aren’t right for the fellowship. If you want us to consider you for projects on a freelance basis, please introduce yourself and send your portfolio to

**Don’t just flip through our website to figure out what we do! Our website also includes titles from our distribution partners, which are all different publishers. Pick up a book (pick up a few!) and do your research—we promise it will pay off in the interview!

Victoria Chao

Victoria Chao

Design Studio Manager at Chronicle Books. Dog enthusiast. Ice cream maker. You can follow her on Instagram at @victoriouschao
Victoria Chao

Latest posts by Victoria Chao (see all)


Leave a Comment