This week, on Friday, September 21st, the fourth- year interior design students will present their internship experiences at 12 pm in the Gallery. The Interior Design Program requires a three-credit (225 minimum working hours) paid internship experience to be completed in the summer between their third and fourth year. The program has a very intentional sequence of courses and learning outcomes related to professional development that threads through a series of courses to help prepare and align student learning with job placement and learning experiences that allow students to apply their knowledge and skills as an interior designer in-training with low risk failure and the mentorship of professionals.
After many courses that address disciplinary and system knowledge which are necessary for the design of interiors, students take Professional Practice IDES318 in the spring of their junior year. This course covers the legal, business and ethical procedures and practices of interior design; but also prepares students for internships and jobs by covering interview and communication skills, building design portfolios and resumes, identifying personal strengths and professional goals to best align internship placement and exploring methods of contacting firms of interest. Offering this course in the spring semester is strategic in that it not only prepares third-year students for an upcoming summer internship, it also coincides with the UNL College of Architecture Career Fair. At the career fair, students get to apply their skills and learning as they interview for internships and jobs with visiting firms. Stacy Spale (current IDES318 instructor) crafts assignments in Pro Practice and works closely with ID Internship Coordinator Mark Hinchman, that help students identify and establish connections with firms that best meet their goals. Due to an activate and supportive alumni network, we are able to place students across the country from San Diego to New York City and many places in between.
This year, student internship experiences varied from;
• Large scale international firms (like Gensler-Denver and San Francisco) to mid-size local firms (Alley Poyner, Clark Enerson)
• More typical A&E project based experiences (HDR, DLR Group, Davis Design, Gresham Smith-Nashville) to more specialized experiences (Archrival, Workshop Unknown, Vahallan Wallpaper, Unlimited Innovations)
• Commercial based projects (US Property, BCDM Architects) to residential focused projects (Lee Douglas Interiors, Paul Daniels Interiors, Regency Homes, New Age Design).
Upon returning, students continue the thread of professional development by participating and positioning their disciplinary knowledge and professional experiences with an interdisciplinary team in DSGN410-Collaborate, then they are able to define a comprehensive capstone project for their final design studio in the spring. Often, the internships not only provide an opportunity for students to apply their disciplinary knowledge, but are also motivational. This motivation often comes in the form of strategically identifying a particular topic or interest area for their capstone.
Finally, the thread of professional developments ends by assisting soon-to-be graduates with job placement. The Interior Design Program attributes some of our impressive 95% job placement rate to the intentional positioning of the “professional development thread” in our curriculum. In addition to receiving a top-notch education that prepares our students to have competitive skillsets and excellence in the design of interior built environments, we believe the required internship helps students and our program, to establish meaningful connections through positive learning experiences.
If you are an interior design student, please feel free to join us on Friday and hear about the internships our fourth year students had this past summer. It is never too soon to start identifying places you may want to be in the upcoming years.