5 Tips for Graphic Design Interns

A great idea for all design students is a summer or even a school semester internship. You’ll gain real world experience, create great industry connections, and get to put your schooling to good use. Here are a few tips to get you started and to keep in mind during your internship:

  1. Have goals. What exactly do you want to get out of your internship? Maybe it’s just overall experience in design, or maybe more specific like printing processes, web design, or social media design. No matter what it is, have those goals in mind when you make your list of places to apply at.
  2. Apply at a variety of places. Being a designer gives you a ton of flexibility with where you apply for an internship. You can design just about anything and work for just about anybody. Here’s a short list of ideas of industries where you could intern:
    • Sign Company – You could end up designing signs for companies or cities in vinyl, neon, 3D, and more. Hopefully you won’t just be designing, but will be able to get your hands dirty with actually building a sign or two.
    • Embroidery/Screen Printing Company – I can tell you from experience that designing and printing shirts, hats, bags, etc. is a lot of fun, and gives you a whole new perspective on how to design for the wide range of materials.
    • Newspaper – Design ads for print or online, and maybe even layout a page…but you better hurry, newspapers may not be around very much longer!
    • Advertising Agency – Depending on the size of the agency you could get experience with a huge range of clients/industries, or you could be working on projects for a specific client.
    • Printing Company – Learn about the printing process, play with paper, and design stuff. Sounds like fun to me!
  3. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet. When you get your internship – be flexible and open to what is asked of and/or given to you. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. So, the more you know, even if it’s a little taste of it, the better off you are.
  4. Speak up. If there comes a day when you don’t have anything to do, tell someone! Don’t be afraid to ask for something to do (even if it’s going to get coffee), or shadow someone during their day (pay attention and ask questions).
  5. Get a thick skin. If you do end up designing at your internship, be prepared for criticism. Some of it will be positive (yay, go you!), some will be constructive (it’s how we grow and get better.), and some will be down right heart wrenching (it happens to all of us.). No matter what, all criticism is a way for you to grow as a designer and be better overall.

Wherever you end up, I hope you have a great internship and learn all that you can. If you’re interested in being an intern here at The BLU Group – Advertising and Marketing, give us a call at 608-519-3070 or send us an e-mail at