the good, the bad & the ugly co-ops

Much has been written about how valuable daap’s co-ops are, but very little has been written about which firms or corporations give the best co-op experience. Is it inappropriate to name names in an open forum? What are the coveted co-ops? Could people share their horror stories? I’ll be starting at uc in the fall; I’ll be an id (design track) guy. Is it unheard of to land an internship the summer after your first year? Perhaps it’s ridiculous to be scheming so far in advance, I’m just very curious. I’ll repent by drawing my can-opener every-which-way today.

What might be a great co-op fit for one student, might be a horror story for another (you know, the old one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure thing)…

also, even a bad experience will teach you things even if through showing you what you don’t want to do.

agreed. even the worst experience has a valuable lesson. i would think the worst, to me, would be fetching coffee in some role stereotypical from the '80s, feeding the ego of a pompous designer. both of my interships led to professional jobs with both of those companies. it sounds cliche, but what you get from an internship is based on what you put into it.

Early on in school at DAAP i decided i wanted to be a consultant. I figured I’d like to work on lots of different stuff. So I went out and tried to find co-ops that gave me the experience of designing lots of different things and at the same time helped me develop a voice as a storyteller. So here are my co ops and what i got out of them.

Lexmark spring 2003- designing printers. this was my first co op and i spent alot of time in the model shop sanding and painting REN. This experience was valuable because i was paying my dues. learning old school shit they dont teach in any school period. the harder i worked in the model shop the more tid bits of actual design were thrown my way.

Lexmark fall 2003- yeah i went back. because when you’re a soph. in design school you’re lucky if you found a decent co op the first time out. i did and when i came back a second time they let me design an entire printer.

Ethicon Endo-Surgery spring 2004- i did a lot of hardcore CAD and form development here. it was a great opportunity to learn about true ergonomics… not the shit you read about in a book but the shit you see in real life (the first time i ever really did observational research). most importantly i learned how to get my mind wrapped around quite complex concepts (i.e. anatomy and surgical procedures) very quickly.

Design Continuum fall 2004- bottom line a great firm. i learned what design research was (not mood boards and crap like that) actually going out and talking to people and making connections between what they do and the problems they have. I also learned a great deal about the difference between being a great designer and a good designer. thats kind of a long story but a lot of it has to do with focus and being interested whatever is put in front of you. anyone can design for the glamorous problem but a really great designer can make even a garbage disposal hot. oh yeah and i was at the Cask and Flagoon for Game 4 of the World Series (ground zero for curse breaking craziness).

Nike spring 2005- This was arguably my most complete internship. My goal was to make every experience a design experience. Anything i could get my hands on i was going to design the f**k out of. And I was going to make it mean something. i worked for the women’s performance team but i ran all over campus sketching shit for people (thats how i met DiTullo). in the end i think i designed 2 water bottles, 1 lifting glove, 2 concept shoes, one survival guide to footwear design, and had one shoe actually come out in stores last winter. Plus I had a sweet pad in the pearl district and led an undefeated softball team.

Rockwell Group fall 2005- So I thought I was interviewing for a job with Tucker Viemeister at Springtime USA… I actually was interviewing for a job with him at Rockwell. Who cares it was Tucker. It was a great chance for me to think about design in regards to spaces and point of purchase. In the end it was an invaluable opportunity for me to work with an ID giant and stretch myself as far as i could.

Now I work at IDEO in Chicago and i’m quite happy. This is pretty much where i wanted to be from the beginning (although Nike made my after grad decision a bit tougher).

I guess the original poster was asking what co ops are the “best”. i dont think its hard to come up with a dream list of places to work. the important part is to learn something no matter where you go. its always what you make of it. i know people that have interned at some hot places and have nothing to show for it and people that went to some small place no one has ever heard of and come out of there with some award winning shit.

sorry for writing such a f**king novel but i thought i’d put in my 4 cents.

thanks for making me feel like an underachiever. :laughing:

sorry kung fu… that was not my intention. i was just trying to be honest about my experiences.

i think it’s really important for kids to become self aware at an early stage in school. in the end its all about deciding what you want to do when you’re out of school and figuring out a plan to reach that point. i think we all agree that it is nice to have a pretty resume but what matters more is what you actually learned while you were there.

like i said i was just sharing my story with the kid.

yeah i know. :slight_smile:

that’s great advice. i cannot stress the importance of these interships to students i talk to.