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In addition to earning college credit, you can usually expect to gain a great deal of hands-on experience when you accept a design internship position. During your interview, you should analyze your initial reaction to the company as a whole, and what you feel the organization can contribute to your learning experience. Hopefully, it will culminate with a job offer, or, at the very least, an approving letter of recommendation that you can include with your resume when you apply for future employment. Many areas of design may fulfill your college credit requirement, but choosing a design internship that closely resembles your long-term professional goals will probably be the most satisfying. Therefore, that should be the focus when making your decision.
Ideally, you should seek a design internship that matches your career plan, if possible. In other words, if you aspire to be an interior designer, then a design internship with a company that specializes in this area is more suitable than one with an organization that focuses on couture fashion. There is often some cross-over, however. For example, an interior design student may also find a rewarding internship at a special event production company that specializes in themed decor, because that usually includes a heavy emphasis on space planning and ambient design. Another benefit to working with a company similar to your area of interest is the potential to receive an offer of employment after graduation.
An important aspect to consider when choosing a design internship is whether or not you believe that the company is willing to invest the time required to teach you the things you may not have learned in the classroom. Creative people often flourish when engaged in an activity, so participation, rather than just observing the work, is typically important. Equally significant is the stylistic ability and talent of the in-house designers, who may offer instruction and guidance, along with a willingness to help you learn.
During your interview, you should also ask the employer how frequently they hire individuals seeking a design internship, and what you can expect during your time with them. The interviewer should be able to outline what the type of job you will do, and what you can expect to learn with that company. Specifically, try to find out what your job description will be when you join them. A design internship that requires you to perform mainly mundane tasks may not offer the experience you need. Usually, a company with an active internship program is better equipped to spend the time to train you properly, as opposed to one with little experience with interns.