The hunt for a design internship brings challenges, excitement

Mon, 2014-04-28 07:56 -- univcomm
April 28, 2014

The hunt is on. This time of year, college students throughout the country are submitting resumes, preparing portfolios and crossing their fingers in hopes for an interview. For those about to graduate, the goal is a job — and for students with a year or two left, the goal is an internship.

For Anderson University’s visual communication design students, getting an internship is a necessity — the experience is a required component of their major. This year’s group of intern hopefuls are excited, nervous — and ready to get started.

Junior Jordyn Pitts has applied “everywhere I can possibly think of,” she says. At first, the prospect of finding an internship was intimidating. “Assembling all of your work for the past couple years and showing it off to professionals is nerve-racking,” she explains. “You have to be confident in yourself as a designer and in your work, and be prepared to receive whatever feedback comes your way.”

Fellow design major Chase Lewandowski is excited. “I'm interested to experience designing in a firm.” He adds, “The department requiring me to have an internship is definitely pushing me to do something I might not have done otherwise.”

According to Art+Design Professor Kevin Rudynski, the design internships have been an integral part of the visual communication design major since 1990. “Internships are viewed by professionals as necessary,” he says. “Employers are more confident hiring a recent graduate if they have an internship experience.”

[Photo: Jordyn Pitts presenting her portfolio during the AIGA Indy Portfolio Review, an event which gives students opportunities for networking and meeting potential internship employers.]

In past years, AU design majors have found their internships with employers all throughout the country, including: Luba Lukova Studios (New York), Young & Laramore (Indianapolis), Hatch Show Print (Nashville, Tennessee), and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, among many others.

Although design majors can have an internship during the school year, most complete it in the summer between their junior and senior years. This gives many students more freedom and flexibility in their internship options. Throughout the course of the summer, they have weekly check-in meetings with Rudynski, who oversees their progress.

“A good senior level internship offers a student a broad range of opportunities,” says Rudynski. “It includes daily supervision and interactions with a team of designers, writers, account representatives, marketing specialists, etc. It also includes working with vendors and some client contact or observations of client meetings. Most importantly, there needs to be a supervisor committed to mentoring the student throughout the internship.”

What do the students hope to gain from the experience?

Lewandowski says, “I want to gain confidence in my work, [and] I think an internship will help me get that. I'm also looking to get a feel for what the work environment for a graphic artist is like, particularly in a screenprint shop, as I think it will give me a better idea for what postgraduate work will be like.”

Pitts has similar hopes. “I’m looking for places that have a great collaborative community and a strong design team,” she says. “I want to be able to easily and comfortably ask for help when I need it so I can learn and grow in my field. I also want to be at a business where I can experience all aspects of the design profession, from process work and research to presentation and production.”

Rudynski is confident his design students will find success in their internships, because they have been well prepared. Leading up to their internships, AU design majors have designed their own identity systems, prepared resumes and portfolios, and practiced their presentation skills. And from the first day of their first foundation course, they have been working on critical, creative thinking skills to solve the challenges of visual communication.

Rudynski has also received strong, positive feedback from the internship employers, who send evaluations to Rudynski at the close of each internship. “Internships conclude with very positive evaluations of interns' employability,” he says. Students typically receive high marks in their communication skills, their understanding of tools and skills, and in their abilities to problem-solve and receive criticism.

“Ultimately,” says Rudynski, “an internship should grow a students' confidence, and help them focus their interest in the design profession.”

With interviews underway and just a couple of weeks left until the semester’s end, Pitts, Lewandowski and their fellow classmates are looking forward to what the summer has in store for them, whatever it may be.

Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.