How are internships doing, despite the economy?

For anyone who knows…How are internships doing in this economy?

I would imagine it might be unaffected, since a lot of internships don’t pay as much as a full-time designer job, if at all. I am curious because I need to get an internship this summer. Are most internships unpaid? Is it unlikely to get a paid one?

Everyone says that it’s important to make connections…how do I do that? I always hear from EVERYONE who is a working designer (my teachers, graduate friends, etc), that they almost always get their jobs from someone they know; almost never from responding to a posting…

So how do I make these contacts? Do I keep in touch with the professors at my school? Where can I find a bunch of Industrial Design employers?

What is the process for getting an internship? I imagine it’s the same as searching for a design job, right?

Anyway, your help is much appreciated. I’m a bit stressed about getting a job, and I’m worried about industrial design being a steady source of income for my future, especially in these harsh economic times.

Internships are still around. What I noticed after graduating is that a lot of graduating seniors took internships at companies where juniors would usually work, so the competition is a bit tougher. That may change by the time next summer comes around.

You can make some good contacts with an internship if you do a good job. If you really make an impression, getting a good recommendation from a CEO can really help.

Internship programs are (or should be) there to develop you as a designer, not just get cheap labor out of you. If you nicely ask your boss to be included on group or project meetings with actual clients, chances are you will meet some people on the other side of the industry. Dress nice, put on a good smile, and if you have the confidence try to contribute insights to the meetings, it will get you noticed.

I didn’t get one this summer (mainly because of the increased competition I think - that and not applying to enough places). But, I did land one this Fall that’s really a blast. One thing I’ve since noticed is that there is a lot more design going on in my area (Salt Lake and Utah Valley) than I was aware of, and I suspect it’s that way in most places. I suggest asking your current contacts if they could give you addresses or phone numbers of other notable design contacts, and just meeting with them to get some portfolio feedback. It may seem like a waste of time, but it’s really helpful because you’re more comfortable and they’re generally more honest with their feedback. In the long run, it will be a great way to start your industry network.