Industrial design is an interdisciplinary field that combines skills from art and graphic design, product design, and engineering. Work is available in a number of industries, including manufacturing, visual art, and high-tech. Many advanced degree programs in industrial design require students to complete an internship as part of the curriculum, and these positions may be paid or offered only for course credit. An intern in this field in a manufacturing facility would focus primarily on product design and packaging. Sometimes, industrial design internships may focus more on visual art, designing visual displays or exhibits in a variety of areas. Finally, positions in software and technology may involve creating user interfaces or manuals for software applications.
Internships in industrial design in manufacturing would involve working closely with engineers as well as sales and marketing personnel to design and develop requirements documents for new products. They may also assist with ensuring that the company’s product line, literature, and packaging maintain consistent branding and messaging. These industrial design internships usually last for one summer, during which the focus may be on a single project to develop a new product or redesign of an existing one. Industrial design students who also are interested in engineering, drafting, or manufacturing may find this type of internship beneficial.
In some cases, industrial design internships may be more focused on visual art than on product design. Designers working in department stores, for example, may develop visual product displays. They may also assist with lighting design, signage, and layout and planning of new stores. In museums or art galleries, industrial designers often work in a collaborative team to create the exhibits. Interns in this area would assist with all of these activities and may also be given smaller projects to complete independently. This type of internship may be best suited for students with artistic talent.
A third area where industrial design internships may be available is with high-tech firms. Employees in these types of jobs are primarily responsible for designing user interfaces for software products and would work closely with software engineers to do so. Interns might help with developing user interface documents, which outline the basic functions and navigation of a software program. They could also be responsible for developing product packaging and documentation. Although designers do not typically write user manuals, they may be responsible for developing templates to ensure consistency across the company’s product line. Those with an interest in technology may be interested in a software design internship.