What Does a Design Trainee Do?

Bobby R. Goldsmith

A design trainee performs numerous tasks in the course of a day's work, usually as an intern or entry level assistant for a design firm. The type of work will vary by the type of design that the firm performs. For example, a firm that does interior design will usually require a design trainee to run errands, do clerical work, and learn the basics of materials acquisition and customer relations. A graphic or Web design firm will require tasks beyond errands and clerical work, including the proofing and generation of code or Web site design, as well as the performance of basic pre-press operations prior to printing. The responsibilities of a design trainee in either field generally involve providing assistant-level work to experienced designers and staff.

A design trainee may be responsible for running errands.
A design trainee may be responsible for running errands.

For an interior design intern, the day to day tasks generally include keeping all work spaces at the firm organized and clear of clutter. The design trainee places calls to vendors and suppliers to find all necessary materials for a project, including paint, moldings, fixtures, flooring, and any tools or other materials needed. The trainee will usually act as a coordinator and liaison between the design firm and the client, setting up meeting times and other planning activities. Design trainees are also responsible for coordinating work and scheduling any sub-contractors that are needed to complete a project.

A design trainee may be expected to perform clerical work.
A design trainee may be expected to perform clerical work.

Some interior design trainees perform general record keeping an create invoices for services rendered by the firm. In addition, the trainee may be asked to perform basic errands such as coffee runs, getting lunch, and other duties, leaving experienced designers free to complete their own tasks. Often, the design trainee of an interior design firm does not require any special skills beyond being able to organize and coordinate the elements of a complex project.

Aspiring interior designers can earn valuable experience by serving as trainees or apprentices at a design firm.
Aspiring interior designers can earn valuable experience by serving as trainees or apprentices at a design firm.

A graphic or Web design trainee, in addition to performing clerical and organizational tasks, is often be required to provide back-up for the firms experienced graphic or Web designers. This means that the trainee will often double-check all completed work to ensure that it meets aesthetic standards as well as the technical requirements to go to print or to be published on the Web. For example, a graphic design trainee will check an InDesign® or QuarkXPress® document to ensure that all images are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), that all fonts are packaged, and that all including elements can be packaged when the document is sent to the printer.

A design trainee will often act as a coordinator and liaison between the design firm and the client.
A design trainee will often act as a coordinator and liaison between the design firm and the client.
A design trainee is responsible for keeping work spaces clear of clutter.
A design trainee is responsible for keeping work spaces clear of clutter.

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