10 Ways to Find a Design Intern in Today’s Market PlaceJul 13, 2021
If I was a betting woman, I would guess most design internships happen through word of mouth or networking. Unfortunately, we have now spent a year without networking events. This is not ideal for you nor interior design students because everyone is losing the opportunity to connect. As businesses are getting back to somewhat normal, you may find the need for an intern. How do you find an intern in today’s complicated world?
Internships are a fantastic opportunity for interior design students. It helps students see the world of design, obtain necessary experience and bring a level of education that can not be captured in the classroom. For design studios, interns can be a big help. Yes, they can help with the materials library, which we all love to put off for another day. But, sharing your knowledge and watching someone’s eyes light up with excitement is one of the most rewarding experiences.
Finding an Interior Design Intern
The design field is a pretty tight nit in that everyone seems to know everyone to some degree. Students often feel like an outsider struggling to sit at the popular table. We as an industry must do our part to help these students find their way.
LinkedIn is a great way to reach students for little to no money. For an intern position, you probably don’t want to spend a ton of money searching. Therefore, I would not recommend using the job listing option on LinkedIn. Instead, I would create a post for your personal feed and your company page feed asking your community for recommendations. Ask your employees to do the same. They also have an extended community that can be reached.
2. Design Instructors
I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I heard from students wondering about internships over any given semester. The design instructors are typically in tune with their students. In my experience, your internship posting will likely slip through the cracks if you go through the school career center or head of the department. I mean absolutely no disrespect to these departments, but the truth is known, they are swamped supporting multiple programs. They also don’t necessarily have direct contact with students unless the student seeks them out. I would reach out to the interior design instructors directly when possible. The instructor may be able to give you an outstanding recommendation that you may have otherwise missed.
I lumped these together and would lump any other social media network in here as well. I am not a huge fan of either outlet for driving sales; however, some people swear by it. The truth be known, if you are looking for an intern, students are typically on social sites like Instagram.
If you don’t already, your website should include a hiring page. Even if you aren’t hiring right now, it is good to have the placeholder when you hire. Add a job posting for an internship. Don’t be boring here. Try to entice students by sharing what they will learn and why your firm is a good choice. It is okay to include expectations, but be mindful that students may feel overwhelmed by a laundry list. Also, be sure you add that there is flexibility in hours to work around school schedules if necessary.
5. Indeed.com or other job boards
Job boards typically cost money to post jobs. As previously mentioned, in the job post, rather than writing a dry post and putting someone to sleep, try jazzing it up with here is what you will learn. Include why someone should want to work for your firm. Make it sound appealing. Interestingly, often the hiring manager needs to be a salesperson as well. Standing out among the competition will help drive quality candidates.
6. Current Employees
The best group to sing your praises to their business friends are happy employees. The emerging professionals will usually have contacts from school or within the school. Additionally, they have an entire network that can be tapped as well. Get your employees involved. I have seen some firms offer a reward for hiring recommendations that are later hired. This can be as simple as a gift card for lunch or as big as a cash bonus. Most employees will only submit someone they feel confident about hiring. From my own perspective, I would never recommend someone unless I thought they would fit into the organization and wouldn’t embarrass me if hired.
Sales reps for materials and furniture vendors have a lot of connections. It is their job. They also get invited to interior design classes to lecture on their product categories. As an instructor, it was great to have an outside perspective for specific lectures. Your reps that call on you every week may have some insight or suggestions that you may not have considered. They also may know more experienced designers that are not happy in their current location. Reps are great for hearing what chatter is on the street.
8. ASID or IIDA
Both associations offer job boards; however, you may want to reach out to board members to ask if they are working with students looking for an internship. Students often volunteer through their school chapter. You can also contact the school chapter ASID board members. The student chapter board is usually students that are in year two or higher within the program.
9. Other Designers
If you are connected and friendly with other interior designers outside your firm, either through networking or past employment, it is worth asking if they know anyone. In hiring, we will often get two or three qualified candidates, but unfortunately, we can only hire one. The other two might be great options at another firm. If you send candidates to someone else, it is recommended to let the candidate know that you passed their name along. Even if they don’t get hired at the other firm, you have left goodwill to help a student.
10. Craig’s List
A little-known fact is that Craig’s list does offer job postings, and they are relatively inexpensive compared to other outlets. It may be worth trying if other options haven’t worked for you.
Internship Expectations for Interior Designers
Now that you found an intern, what is next? Nothing is worse: walking into a new place to work and absolutely nothing is organized, work hasn’t been assigned, and the student feels that they are wasting their time. Not much different than you, interior design students have a busy schedule with a lot of stress. Yes, it is a different type of stress, but it is still hard to walk into a completely new environment with truly little knowledge of how things work.
Related Article: "How to Provide a Valuable Internship"
Take the prep time to outline expectations, identify projects and work tasks to help the student, and be sure their computer works on day one. You may be thinking, “duh,” but unfortunately, it has happened to me way too often. It is a horrible way to start in any position.
Also, pair your intern up with a junior interior designer, someone who has been with the firm for a minimum of a year and can show the intern the ropes. It gives the junior interior design some additional responsibility and a little mentorship as well. As a leader, developing talent should be a top priority.
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