“We aren’t offering internships but…”

My company isn’t offering an internship program this year. No budget for it, lame I know.

We’re (3 ID’ers) brainstorming other potentially useful activities to do with local schools:

  • portfolio or project review
  • couple designers go give a presentation
  • site visit for anyone interested
  • ask the profs what the kids are thinking or needing
  • frank talk about networking, how to get hired or what not to do
  • sponsor a project (this is longer term and means $)
  • more than just one single visit, plan 3-4 repeats with some … arc

Other ideas?


Student group tour/visit.

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Mentor a school project.
Fast project (12 spaghetti noodles, 3 inches of thread, support a mug, highest off table wins type of thing) with pizza (low cost).


This is great. There’s lot of ways to give back.

I’m personally a big fan of the honest feedback. School won’t tell students they suck. They need them to pay tuition. Students unfortunately only find out when they try to get a job. Frank portfolio review is high value.

Individual mentorship can take a lot of time and I find requires the right individual to make it work. I find that class presentations or a series of presentations can have a lot of value. You’d be surprised at how much take away students can get from even an hour open ended chat. Stuff you know as a working designer that you don’t even think of is gold for someone new to the professional industry.

Networking is a good topic. As is basics like communication, project management, business and budgets, how to talk to a supplier who doesn’t speak english as a first language, research, etc.

Even providing links and resources can be of value. Old books from the studio. Old samples. Go to local suppliers for models or supplies.

I do also like the first year style quickie project though not sure if the students would see the value in something they can’t really use in a portfolio.


Nothing better for a student than a department or studio visit. Makes it real.

When they are there, after the tour, talk about…

  1. How your team/company is including AI into its design process.
  2. Show them the team’s CAD workflow process and how it connects with other disciplines.
  3. Talk about design career trajectories (5, 10, 15, 20+ years out).
  4. Talk about how manufacturing trends are shifting…again (econ & politics).
  5. Show them a real research process and how it connects to downstream dev.
  6. The nitty and gritty of how HR really works (i.e. performance reviews)

Thanks everyone. Reinforcing some ideas we had, and raised new topics.

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To reinforce the observation - long ago, as I interviewed an industrial designer with zero skills and thinking, yet with a newly minted MID from what should have been a good school, I told them they should ask for their money back. A harsh reality, but too late.