Workshops and Internship Programs
A few Graphic Design programs in private schools and many
in public universities have a Design Center or Workshop. These
shops are staffed with only the best advanced students who
are overseen by a faculty member. They do work for non-profit
organizations in the community and a substantial amount of
work is done for clients within the university. The Workshop
usually is located in a restricted space allocated only for
that function, and there is a greater concentration of equipment
than found in the program at large. The Workshop charges clients
a small amount in addition to expenses. This results in a
separate operating budget for the Workshop which may be used
without many of the normal university restrictions. Additionally,
the Workshop provides the better students with meaningful
experience in production and dealing with clients. Students
like the prospect of having printed work for their portfolios.
They are anxious to get into the program and most work hard
once they are there.
has been my observation that many Workshops are a direct outgrowth
of faculty frustration, usually that of the Program Head.
Faced with a student mix of electives and majors, insufficient
credits for majors, low operating budgets plus the intransigence
of university bureaucracy, a Workshop is established as a
separate educational experience where the teacher can control
the quality of education. Most workshops are a source of great
pride by the teacher and students.
of the independent source of funds, even though not substantial,
what there is goes directly into improving the educational
environment for students. The purchase of equipment, subscribing
to professional publications, establishing a design library
housed in the program area, field trips, bringing in professionals
to lecture, promotional materials for the workshop and other
similar uses for Workshop profits greatly enhance the learning
environment for students.
Workshops provide fixed workstations for the students, and
many times these are the only students in the entire program
that have dedicated workspace. Because of the fixed space,
students tend to be in the Workshop evenings and weekends.
The relationship among students in the Workshop is close,
and there is more interaction than found among students at
large. There is a true sense of camaraderie. The degree of
motivation to learn is usually much higher in the Workshop
than in the program.
most of the qualities associated with the Workshop are those
that would be desirable within the program as a whole. What
Workshops clearly demonstrate is that the reason for educational
programs being less than they could be is more university
policies and bureaucracy than teachers! Workshops are a classic
example of how teachers develop an area of vested interests
within an educational environment where it is impossible to
accomplish the same vested interests within the program. The
factors making the difference are fixed workspace, selected
students with control of budget and program. Administrators
wishing to improve the quality of educational programs in
their institutions should take heed.
programs are well worthwhile, and especially so for those
Graphic Design programs in outlying areas. However, the quality
of the internships is far more important than the number.
Too often, internships are indiscriminately established and
interns are little more than cheap labor in small studios
of dubious quality. The purpose of the internship program
is to provide practical experience for selected students in
a professional environment. The internship is expected to
be a learning situation. Therefore, it is essential to select
only those firms that will provide a good learning experience
with proper role models. Students should be involved in a
level of practice that is consistent with their educational
selected internships throughout the country and rarely had
more than one local internship. At various times we had internships
in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh,
and for several years, Amsterdam, Holland. Being in an outlying
area, it was important to expose our interns to new environments.
The experience of adapting to an unfamiliar locale was nearly
as important as the work experience.
implemented our internship program during the summer months
between the Junior and Senior years. This allowed interns
to come back into the program for a year where they could
share the internship experience with their peers. In the Spring,
we posted our internships for the summer and Junior students
applied. A faculty committee reviewed the applications and
selected two or three applicants for each position. The selected
students sent their letter of application and slides to the
firm. The sponsor made the final appointment.
you have good internship positions, it is in the best interests
of the program to have the internships repeated year after
year. This entails being very selective regarding which students
apply. After several years of working with a sponsor, their
preferences about interns become evident, and you strive to
match the intern with the firm. This results in students generally
having a better work experience and sponsors feeling positive
about the program. The companies providing good internships
are cultivated throughout the year as you would treat a good
kept in contact with sponsors throughout the year establishing
strong personal ties with the firm. We followed up each internship
with forms regarding student qualifications, how interns performed
and asking for suggestions or comments about the internship
program. Sometimes the sponsor would visit the school and
make a presentation to the Junior class to illustrate and
answer questions about their firm.
my experience, the Junior year is often the most difficult
for students. If students are going to have doubts about Graphic
Design as a career, it usually surfaces near the end of the
Junior year. There have been numerous occasions where excellent
students have experienced doubts about their abilities, or
their commitment to Graphic Design. Whenever it was possible
to put these students into an internship situation, it nearly
always resolved these doubts, and the student returned with
a positive view about themselves and their education.