Graphic Design Internships with Payne...

An internship in Graphic Design is a valuable asset. It allows you to learn through practical experience and apply what you have learned in school to a working environment. It also prepares you to search for a job and become more familiar with employers' expectations.

Your first stop in finding and internship is the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) on the main floor of the library at the south end. They can provide you with the information to get started.

Why Practical Experience in Design is Valuable

A liberal arts college is well suited to teaching you many things in Graphic Design, but frankly, not all things. We cannot teach you about that client who just wants something that you think is ugly. We cannot teach you about the politics of the work-place, which can sometimes seem as important as the work you do.

We are also ill-suited to teaching you some technical things, such as the capabilities of different printing presses or the costs associated with a mass-printed piece. Or working under short deadlines. These are things that govern every design done in the commercial world.

The internship is a place where you will hopefully fill out your education to include these things and more. The internship is something you may choose (although it may not get approved) - so make sure it is going to be an experience which greatly benefits your education.

This being said, even having an internship under your belt does not make you really "qualified". You may be shocked at how much you learn during the first few years of full-time employment. Almost every profession is like this. Would you want a pilot who just finished his flight tests flying the 'left seat' on that plane to Florida?

A Good Internship

A good internship is one in which the employer is interested in filling out your education in exchange for some work done. For this reason, internships where you do not get paid sometimes make sense. This is not to say that if you get paid your education will suffer — it is different for every potential employer.

You can possibly tell how good an internship is by talking with your supervisor before you accept the internship. If he or she seems very willing to help you chances are it will be a good experience. If they seem more interested in having you make the coffee you may want to try elsewhere.

Picking an Internship

For credit, internships need to be done during your third or fourth year. They may be done Fall, Winter, May, or Summer Terms.

Payne maintains a list of past internship employers (and contacts) that you may have, and I can also give you suggestions based on what your needs and capabilities are. Career Services may also be able to help.

Beyond these resources, use your imagination to find your internship. Phone books, other students, and prospective employers are all places that can help you locate a good internship. If you absolutely cannot find and internship, the CCE is very willing and able to assign you to an internship.

The reason for not having the CCE find you an internship as your first step is that finding an internship yourself should give you valuable experience in finding a job, since the process is much the same. Finding an employer, preparing a resume and a portfolio, and contacting the employer are all things you will need to do on a larger scale when you seek full-time employment.

The rules change a bit if you do your internship through Wartburg West. Because of the difficulties raised by the distance of Denver from here, they will locate the internship for you. These internships usually work out very well.

The Process

The CCE can guide you through the process of signing up for an internship. Not only do you need to fill out the internship forms, but you also need to register for the internship as you would any other class.

At the present time the main communication between you and me (if I am your faculty sponsor) during an internship is a series of emails. These should be sent at least 14 evenly spaced times during your internship, and should describe what you are working on and your reactions to it. You should also ask any questions or raise any issues you may have, although it may be more appropriate to call or meet with me rather than deal with a complicated issue by email.

At the end of your internship, you need to inform your faculty sponsor that the internship has ended, and have your supervisor do the evaluation sheet. Before assigning a grade (pass or fail), I will need to see this evaluation and perhaps talk to your on-site supervisor.

The Result

Besides gaining valuable experience during an internship, often you will gain other things that should not be overlooked. A good reference is extremely important. Work that you do during the internship shows the practical application of design for your portfolio. It may well be the most important line on your resume as well. And we have had more than one student hired by the same employer that did their internship.

Doing Two Internships or None at All

You have a choice to have two internships count for credit. Most students do not take this opportunity since it costs more money, but it is an option. Some students do a second or third internship (paid or not paid) without credit. You may also ask to waive an internship (as you can any course) if you can prove that it would be an unnecessary duplication of a prior experience. The waiver has to be approved by both the department and the registrar, and you will need to take another art course to fill the hours needed in the department for graduation.

-Thomas Payne