Volunteer/Intern with ID in NY tri state area?

Hi Everyone,

I would like to find out how I can observe/intern/volunteer with industrial designers, especially toy designers or medical equipment designers, but I would take anything. I am a pediatric occupational therapist with a masters in occupational therapy, and my specialty is in pediatrics. I am currently working but I am also looking into going back to school to study Industrial design and would like to eventually work in the toy industry. When I attended the Toy Fair in NYC last February, I found myself giving valuable feedback and advice to representatives at various booths and through much contemplation I realized I wanted to go back to school and study industrial design. After spending so much time thinking about how I could make the toys that I use better or wishing certain products existed I decided that maybe there is a way that I could participate in actually creating new toys, products, and activities. I would be so grateful if someone could point me in the right direction as I would really like an opportunity to observe, intern, volunteer so that I can get more of a feel of the field and better prepare myself prior to going back to school. I have sent various emails over the past months and only got generic “we will get back to you” or " the position has been filled" responses. Any input, advice, anything would be greatly appreciated! I am a professional who is offering free services and all I ask is to get a feel as to what your day/job is like in return.

Thank You



Congratulations on your decision to pursue design.

Most offices will only offer internships to candidates currently enrolled in a design program or even graduates of design programs. Taking on someone with no formal training would be intimidating due to the assumed time the staff would ned to spend to get the person up to speed. I suggest you ping a few people in the industry and start by offering to buy them coffee. If a positive connection happens at one of those coffee sessions, then you could ask to job shadow for a day.

Check the core77 design directory for a list of firms near you:

You can also try to find some contacts out of the NY IDSA chapter.

You can see if there are any upcoming events that you could try to attend to see if there’s any opportunities to mingle and maybe make a connection.

Thanks so much for your advice.
I will continue sending out emails I guess, and I will try to see if there are any events that I could attend.
I will definitely go to the toy fair again and this time I guess try networking better.
Seems like a catch 22 when getting exposure to the field as you kind of have to be in it.
Maybe I should start with some fine art/ sketching classes at the local community college so I can get exposure through teachers/students?


I am Shaunak Deo from California. I am also in a same boat as you are. I have done graduation in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in San Francisco. Still I am very much fascinated by design world and want to enter into this field. I am in the same dilemma as you are. Currently I am mailing people for informational interviews, volunteering ID, UX related events and networking. I think our goals are alike. We can share our thoughts, our ideas and reach our goals with each others help.
What do you think? A companion is always better than travelling alone.

you can directly mail me at shaunakdeo@gmail.com… Lets try to be in contact with each other. Thank you

Old thread, but I do have a point, and it’s going to be a bit harsh, so my apologies in advance. What’s in it for me? That is what any potential employer thinks. Pretty simple fact. As an intern or volunteer your services have a negative value. Yes, you will contribute, but not nearly as much as I will with my time in managing you. Sure. Sounds like an ego trip. But realistically, my 20+ years of experience trump your 0 years by a great deal. An intern is an investment by the employer hoping the payoff comes sometime down the line.

I am convinced you did, but then your reasoning goes off in the wrong direction by writing,

Incorrect. Why is it do you think you had valuable feedback? I’ll give you a hint, you already wrote it.

There. That is your lead. That is your WIFM (what’s in it for me). You have special insight into the customer. Your observations as a pediatric occupational therapist are exactly what gave you the ability to give valuable feedback and advice.

And now you think you want to toss all of that knowledge to become a sketch monkey? It literally hurts my brain that you came to that conclusion. If I were you, I would stick with your advanced degree and use it on the front end of the product development process - discovering the needs of the customer. That is far more valuable that some stooge who pukes out ideas onto a piece of bond paper. It is your insight that shapes the ideas on those pieces of paper. You decide the value. Speaking for myself, I would never voluntarily give up that power.