Interior design students: Before your design work can grace the pages of your favorite design magazines, there are a lot of ladders you’re going to have to climb. And, obviously, the only place one can begin climbing is on the bottom rung, which is also known as...
An interior design internship.
Just because most interns work for free does not mean established designers are willing to welcome any stranger off the street into their studio who claims to have an “eye for design.” I'm sorry if that bursts your bubble, but landing a good internship, one where you’ll actually learn something, just isn’t that easy to find.
However, if you walk into your interview with confidence and a heads-up understanding of what your interviewer may ask, you’ll increase your odds of landing that dream interior design internship you’ve longed to have.
What questions should you expect to receive during your internship interview?
I’ve invited three highly-respected interior designers to share their insights on what they look for in a quality intern. Each gave me completely different responses, and all of their advice is absolutely priceless. I thank them all -- and you should, too -- for their willingness to share what are, typically, heavily guarded trade secrets. So take notes!
“A few of the key questions I ask to judge the seriousness of their work are: Why do you want to work in this industry? What can you contribute that no one else can?”
Overall character & personality
“Before I analyze a potential intern’s design skills, I look for these qualities: Enthusiasm, maturity, desire to please, balance, an ability to discover on their own what needs to be done, and a love for all types of people without being judgmental.
After I’ve gotten a sense for their general makeup, I then ask them some fun questions, such as: What is your idea of a fun day? And... What is your greatest passion and professional goal? (Oh, and I must add: I’ve noticed interviewees never dress as nice as they do on interview day. Ha ;)
“When I plan to interview a possible intern, I ask them to come prepared. Many think this means they should bring their portfolio. But, as much as I want to see how they draw and create, I want to know how they think.
I ask them what they know about me and why they want to work with me. I ask them how I can contribute to a successful internship. And I ask for them to list the top five things that they want to learn, or be exposed to, throughout the course of the internship.
Next, we establish if the focus of their internship will be business, marketing or design. I ask them to write a paragraph, which will be reviewed at a later date, about how they expect to be able to help me and serve our clients.
I am always looking for good interns. So I'd like to share that young, educated designers or architectural designers should feel free to contact me. Thanks.
Again, advice from Mary Douglas Drysdale
DISCUSSION | Designers: What questions do you ask internship candidates? Respond in the comments below...
“One of the most important goals I have as a designer is to make sure the people I hire are ambitious enough to want to make a significant contribution to the field of interior design over the course of their career. Once I believe I’ve found someone, I try to train and expose them to the true breadth and complexity of this field at the high-end.”