Intern stories


I am going to write a piece about internships in the design industry. Do any of you here have any stories that you want to get off your chest?

all the best


What is this for?

It is just for a personal blog


Are you just trying to get a sense of different people’s experiences from different contexts (in house vs agency etc./different countries handle internships)? Have this information be pooled together so it can be shared?

I think it would be great to hear more about how you are looking to frame these stories (eg: is this advice for future interns?). For I am sure like all job/learning experiences there are great and not so great parts to them. And I would be wary of framing it in that light.

A specific ‘ask’ would be good to have that might highlight- “what I learned” vs “what happened”

Furthermore, there is an issue of anonymity for both the individual and company.

Ah yes, but I think I would like to try to get a clear grasp of the whole situation. I am going to be critical of internships. They can be good practice but there I am in no doubt that many organizations (in a broader business sense) use internships as a means to cheap employment; in some cases not paying people for the work that they do. However I have not heard of many such issues in the design industry. Perhaps it is led by more honest people. It is quite non-specific at the moment. I am trying to gather as many stories as possible. Some are stories of graduates set the task to sit in a windowless room endless photocopying. Others are of graduates who have learnt more in a few months than their four years of university and have prospered.

Here in the UK internships are seen as the only way of getting a job after one graduates. I don’t think is something to be particularly proud of. Most of the jobs are of course in London; internships are offered travel expenses paid as long as those journeys are within the city. Many of those outside of London have no way of managing such an expense and many of those who live in London have not got the wealth to support themselves financially.

anonymity, of course



It sort of sounds like you’ll end up creating a Clients From Hell but for Internship stories, which could be some entertaining and somewhat amusing cautionary tails. But as funny/sad/entertaining as the stories may be… so what? So someone had an internship where they sat in a room and counted bricks…ok, I can believe it, that sucks, and I guess it’s a good story but what am I supposed to take from that story?

That’s the problem with anonymity in the internet age, I have no context? Maybe they were a crappy worker? Maybe they had a bad portfolio and had no other options. Maybe they were a great worker and the employer is truly insane? Maybe it’s a made up story? I don’t know who the employer is so I can’t put them on my “don’t work for” list, so what meaningful insights can I take from it?

Not to be harsh, I realize that you have honest intentions, but I’m not sure if gathering anonymous intern stories is the best way to empower future designers. It might be a transatlantic difference, maybe interns across the pond are treated worse? Either way, if your goal is to get a clear grasp of the situation, I doubt anonymous horror stories are the best way to go.

My internship story:

Ever since I’ve got an internship, I got the following things:
1.) got in contact with great people who I could continue to work with for a long time after my internship expires
2.) got a room in a house in a really great area of Dublin City, the design capital of Ireland and hopefully World Design Capital of 2014
3.) got taken a lot more seriously wherever I am - in a bank, in a bar or even a local shop.
4.) Got a space in an office that is protected by two layers of security.
5.) Haven’t got paid for the internship yet, but a payment will soon arrive.

Doing something productive like an internship can get you quite far. You’ve gotta like it and do your best to stay in it, though.

I have to agree with Choto. This could go two ways but more than likely only one. Either you could get great positive or constructive stories that will help students or it will turn into a bitchfest. I think this all depends on how you structure it.

I also want to point out that it is a lot harder to truly be anonymous than you think it is on the Internet. There are many way to figure out who gave what feedback. Given that this is such a small intertwined business you don’t want to burn any bridges.

Just my $0.02.

Totally agree.

I don’t see this having merit if you take the whiney/poor sport/bitch fest route. What is the benefit of going there? It is a privilege to gain experience, even if at times it is not the best fit. Value can still be extracted from it. Can’t tell you how many people I know right now without any experience/very little and looking for work in Design. It is hard to break in.

It’s quite possible to tell intern stories without mentioning any names or burning any bridges and also posting anonymously.

I just did it in my previous post. Stories can also be great without any names.

Thanks for the feedback guys. I get the problem with anonymity. I’m going to keep looking. I wouldn’t write something purely from a negative perspective. The last thing I would want to do is put people off. The problem with the topic is that there are the obvious arguments. I don’t want to write something which just repeats what every other article on the subject argues. I’ll take my time in writing this one, thanks for convincing me on this. I wouldn’t wish to put people off, more encourage them to work their way around the problems they may face in getting an internship. I’ve had an internship and it was great, worked wonders, so of course I don’t wish to put people off. I’ll let you know when I have written the piece - here is promising it won’t be bitchy



Is this the case? I’ve never seen an ID or ID related internship advertised in the UK.

You’re right though, Internships based in the South East are discriminatory, often against those parent’s don’t live in (or a commuter-able distance from) London.

I’m due to give a lecture to students in years 1-4 at Coventry University regarding graduating and finding work and am going to tell them not to intern for free, as it de-values the whole profession, especially those trying to find their first job.

Internships in the Fashion/Editorial/TV industry have become the norm, which is not something anyone wants to see in ID. It’s often utilised by companies with enough cash to be paying staff anyway.

Yes I have seen a few. Though the feedback I have had from people caring up internships in rather prestigeous firms has been entirely positive. As you say these problems seem to be in other industries; especially the arts where the notion of an intern is mistaken by the employer as a volunteer. I have heard of people who have slept in the office of where they have been working. You’d think common sense would hit. This is one reason why the arts is seen as being elitist. But so far from what I can tell in ID this isn’t such a problem. Good luck to your students, it is tough out there.