All students are required to complete 300 hours of internship before graduation. Most design and illustration internships are paid positions with private businesses, individuals, organizations and government entities. Over the last 30 years, the school has forged hundreds of local and national relationships with some of the most prominent businesses in Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco and New York.
VCD students have recently held interenships at several well-known places, including Discovery Channel, The Smithsonian Museum, MTV, Metropolis magazine and MOMA. Below are some personal thoughts from VCD students about their internship experiences.
I think this past summer at Metropolis Magazine was inspirational above all else. Educational, sure – I returned with a nice chunk of knowledge and a portfolio piece or two – but there is something essential, I feel, in being completely immersed in and inspired by the design culture streaming out of modern cities and creative hubs – in my case, NYC. This summer, I was blessed with exposure to so much great design and problem solving and creative critical thinking. I am finding that all the experiences and mini-revelations I had and took home with me are what I value most, although the few extra lines on the rèsumè are nice, too!
A little more specifically, the internship provided me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of putting together a magazine. (Fortunately, the magazine was one I already admired and periodically stole from my parents’ mailbox.) I mainly worked with the design and photo departments, though I was graciously primed with some lessons in production, marketing, and editorial. I was given a nice range of tasks, from spot illustrations to calling in artwork, to the more menial tasks of photo retouching/diagram retracing and issue archiving, then laying out stickers and ads and invites, eventually earning the slightly more involved tasks of conceptualizing and designing pages in the magazine. Very exciting times! Even the editorial meetings I sat in on were illuminating; wholly informative of the process in which stories are drawn up, developed, and eventually designed for the magazine. I can’t express how beneficial these meetings were to me, despite the fact that I can count on one hand how many words I spoke all summer during them.
[As for ] the people I worked with most, the design and photo departments – I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am for them. I received generous amounts of advice from every individual – very pertinent, very useful advice. It was obvious that Criswell, the Creative Director, wanted me to gain something valuable during my short stay. He always gave really good advice, and always took the time to teach me things I didn’t know: he had me look at proofs with him, let me see runs of the magazine at every stage of development, took me into meetings, introduced me to some designer, invited me to design events around the city, and even went so far as to dole out “homework” assignments (including a writing one) during down time. It was great!
Simply put, it was truly a positive experience and I am perfectly content coming home with a few new skills, a new friend or two and an overwhelming appreciation for design (outside of what we’re taught, and outside of [the design of] Print, How, Communication Arts [magazines], etc…) and a much more expansive understanding of today’s popular culture (in America, at least) – something I’ve consciously avoided learning about for a very long time. I also brought back many, many books. (I came home with an extra suitcase containing just the books I accumulated over summer.)
This past summer I served as an intern at MTV Productions in Times Square, New York City, assisting the Art Department Supervisor for Total Request Live (TRL). Going into the internship, I knew it was a great opportunity for me. I have always had big dreams of moving to a big city and working a job out of the norm, and this was a great opportunity in the biggest city of all – New York City. My supervisor felt confident enough with my design work and knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator that she gave me full control of on-set-graphics. I ended up designing on-set graphics for TRL Movie Week, TRL Backstage Pass Week, and the TRL Video Music Awards. It’s a bit intimidating knowing that your work will be shown to a national audience, but it’s something I wanted to do. Seeing my graphics plastered all over the TRL set was a cool feeling — and I’d always call my family and friends to let them know to watch for my work.
Working for a live show is a very spontaneous task. The day would begin with a meeting at 8AM in which all the TRL production staff would meet and discuss the upcoming show. It was then that we’d find out what our task for the day was. Sometimes, we just had to buy props for the show, while other times, we would have to concept and design something for the show, such as nametags, a game wheel, lanyards, tickets, a poster, etc. Everything would have to be completed and brought down to the studio by 2:30 PM for the run-through, and the show was filmed live at 3:30 PM, which I could usually go down and watch as it was filmed live.
Beyond my experience as a designer, a lot of people ask how it was being around all the stars that come onto TRL. Unfortunately, one of the rules is that we put our internship at risk if we bother the “talent,” so I couldn’t talk to anyone unless they talked to me. Regardless, I got to spend a whole day around Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson, and stood backstage next to many stars — Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Dwayne Wade, and Paris Hilton just to name a few. It was tough keeping my cool, but I guess sometimes you just have to suck it up and be a professional!
This summer, I have been offered summer internships from both MTV and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) in New York City. I am going with MLBAM for the fact that I have the chance to expand my work experience and rèsumè, not to mention I have always been a huge sports fan. I encourage all VCD students to not be intimidated by the competition for bigger internships that might feel out of reach – Kent’s VCD program is stronger than you think… and although Kent’s VCD program only requires 3 internship credits, think bigger — rèsumè building with multiple internships can open up doors down the road, and may help in reaching that dream job someday. Good luck.