How Do I Become a Design Trainee?

Bobby R. Goldsmith

To become a design trainee, you must possess several skills, and you must acquire a basic level of education in your chosen design field. The specific requirements will vary, depending upon the area in which you want to focus. Generally, for graphic design or Web design, you need an advanced familiarity with navigating computer software such as Adobe® InDesign®, Adobe®, Dreamweaver®, or QuarkXpress®. If you plan to become a design trainee in the field of fashion design, interior design, or architectural design, the emphasis will be less computer oriented, and geared more toward working with your hands. Based upon your skills and field of interest, the process of becoming a design trainee involves applying for an internship at a design firm or becoming an apprentice with a fashion designer or interior design consultant.

A fashion design trainee works under a fashion designer.
A fashion design trainee works under a fashion designer.

If you plan to become a design trainee with a graphic design or Web design firm, it's best to compile a portfolio of some basic design work. The portfolio is not necessarily any previous work that you've had published since, as a trainee, you likely do not have much in the way of professional experience. Instead, your portfolio should be filled with samples that you have created to illustrate your skill in computer-aided design, your aesthetic sense, and your eye for detail. Even for an entry level trainee, having a portfolio shows that you possess the initiative and the basic skills to flourish in your internship.

Some interior designers hold a four-year degree in the subject and have served lengthy apprenticeships.
Some interior designers hold a four-year degree in the subject and have served lengthy apprenticeships.

To become a design trainee with a fashion or interior designer, you can compile a portfolio that illustrates your influences, your sense of color, and your capacity for visual creativity. If you plan to become a fashion design trainee, you will need at least basic sewing and fabric construction skills. You will also need to know the different types of fabric and the basics of custom tailoring along with an eye for what looks good based upon prevailing trends.

Trainee programs are designed to help you to advance in your career, and some jobs offer you compensation while others are unpaid.
Trainee programs are designed to help you to advance in your career, and some jobs offer you compensation while others are unpaid.

Interior design trainees should be familiar with the basics of home construction with an emphasis on interior furnishings and fixtures. Interior design trainees are usually be responsible for coordinating a range of tasks for the senior designer. These include arrangements for sub-contractor work, scheduling meeting times with prospective clients, and handling the acquisition and delivery of all necessary materials for a project.

To become an interior designer, a person can compile a portfolio that illustrates her influences, and her sense of color.
To become an interior designer, a person can compile a portfolio that illustrates her influences, and her sense of color.

Once you have a basic level of competence in the skills needed for a particular method of design, you should look for a designer or a design firm that offers a style similar to your own aesthetic sensibilities. Send a query letter requesting information about internships, apprenticeships, or trainee programs that the designer offers. Apply for every available opportunity, but once you secure a trainee position, politely inform every other firm that you have applied to that you are no longer a trainee candidate.

A designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.
A designer is typically expected to be familiar with color theory.

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