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Do You Need an Interior Design Internship?

By Michelle Ecker on May 31, 2020

Do You Need an Interior Design Internship?

Many aspiring interior designers find themselves confused about what education is actually required in order to start working as a professional. Unlike becoming a teacher or a nurse, most design careers don’t involve a standard set of educational requirements you must complete in order to start working. You don’t have to follow a concrete set of steps, obtain a specific degree or pass a certain exam in order to get hired and start working as an interior designer. 

That being said, all of these things are certainly available to designers who are interested. 4 year universities offer interior design degree programs and nationally-recognized organizations offer interior design certifications you can earn if you’re interested in formal training. But in an industry where these things aren’t required, it can be hard to decide which are actually worth your money and time. 

At the New York Institute of Art and Design, we often receive questions specifically about whether or not interior design students are required to complete internships in order to start working. 

Do Interior Designers Need To Complete Internships? 

The short answer is no. 

Asking whether it’s necessary for an interior designer to intern is like asking whether it’s necessary for a journalist to intern at a newspaper before they’re able to start working as a professional writer. 

While working as an intern is a valuable learning experience in any industry, it is not required for designers. Countless interior designers go on to lead successful, rewarding careers without completing one. 

Despite this fact, many aspiring designers are personally interested in finding internship opportunities because they want hands-on learning experience and mentorship from a professional. 

Where Can You Find One-To-One Interior Design Mentorship?

Although NYIAD’s interior design course is an online learning experience, part of our mission is to provide every student with the benefit of personalized, one-to-one mentorship from an industry professional. 

To achieve this, every one of our interior design students are assigned a NYC-based professional interior designer as a mentor. This individual is the one evaluating your projects and sending you feedback on your assignments. If you are ever stuck on a certain lesson, interested in learning more about a given topic, or even if you need help applying for a job or starting your own business, this mentor is available via phone or email during weekly business hours, the same way a college professor is available during office hours at a 4-year university. 

NYIAD graduate Tricia McIntosh now runs her own interior design business specializing in custom window treatments for both commercial and residential clients.

“My NYIAD mentor was helpful and responsive via email and phone calls,” she recalls. “Her feedback on each of my assignments was extremely valuable, and I used all her suggestions to improve myself as a student and ultimately as a designer.” 

Camille Besinga formerly worked as an editor for Cosmopolitan magazine, but eventually took a course at NYIAD as she wanted to pursue an interior design career instead. 

“I always listened to my mentors’ audio commentary on each of my projects,”she shares. “I appreciated the level of detail that my mentors Anne Harris and Janet Ramin gave to every aspect of my work.” 

Starting Your Interior Design Career 

There is no standard set of rules or requirements you must follow in order to start working as a professional interior designer. While some individuals are interested in attending a 4-year program where they can live on campus and receive the traditional college experience, others seek a more modern, flexible alternative such as NYIAD’s- a school that allows them to work from home and study online at their own pace. 

If you’re having trouble determining which of these paths is the right fit for you and your needs, feel free to reach out to an admissions advisor at the New York Institute of Art and Design for help navigating. If you call 1-800-583-1742, you can speak with our advisors about the educational model you’re looking for, as you determine whether NYIAD is the right fit for you and the mentorship you seek. 

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