On the job training through cooperation with residential and contract firms for interior design majors.

The Ohio University Interior Architecture Program requires all IA majors to complete a professional, five (5) credit hour professional internship experience.  This requirement is a longstanding component of the IA program. If you do  the internship in the summer, you are required to pay Ohio University summer tuition.

The internship experience must be taken for a minimum of five (5) credit hours.  The formula used to translate work contact hours to academic credit hours is 1:40.  Forty hours of work time equals one academic credit hour.  The entire internship of five credit hours will therefore require a minimum of 200 work/contact hours at the internship site.

Purpose and Rationale

The purpose of the internship experience is to provide an opportunity for students to be involved in an actual design practice work environment, with a professional, and to develop competence as a designer within the profession.

Objectives of the Internship

The internship provides opportunities to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively with people of all ages.
  • Develop interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to make decisions, manage time, be flexible, and make judgments.
  • Assume responsibility for personal and professional growth.
  • Evaluate yourself relative to knowledge and skills acquired in interior design and determine personal goals you must achieve in order to become a professional designer.
  • Acquire the necessary knowledge concerning the profession of interior design and the personal qualities of the successful designer in order to evaluate your professional growth and development.


  • Keep a daily journal of activities and experiences. Record tasks completed and how you feel about the experiences; include date and hours worked.
  • Discuss personal goals; evaluate yourself as to the experiences and knowledge you must gain to achieve these.
  • Complete the internship assignments in a professional format and timely manner. The assignments are to be typed and prepared to present in a binder or three-ring notebook.
  • Receive an acceptable evaluation by the cooperating professional at the firm where the internship takes place.

Why Do An Internship?

  • The best reason to do an internship is to gain practical career experience before graduation.
  • An internship is a great way to get an inside glimpse of a company, an industry, and a particular occupation. It can help you discover if the career you are considering is right (or wrong) for you.
  • An internship experience will also reveal to you how the content of your design education is related to the world of office design practice.  The foundation of all design practice lies in designing, and your design education is the time and place that you learn ‘how to design’.
  • Internships often turn into job offers. All the more reason to do an internship and to take the job very seriously — it is the first impression you make on who may be a future employer.
  • The first reason to do an internship is a selfish one: research has found that students who had completed internships found employment more quickly following graduation, were more likely to be employed within their fields of study, and were more satisfied in their jobs. Employers actively seek students with career-related work experience. Your odds of getting a job in today’s competitive marketplace are much greater if you have relevant experience. In fact, some large corporate employers recruit over 50% of their new full-time employees from “in house” internship programs.

Once You Are At Your Internship

  • Set Personal Goals. While some internships are very structured, others are not, so you need to spend some time before you start the internship setting goals that you want to accomplish. Maybe it’s deciding on what area within marketing that you want to specialize, or learning new skills, or building your network. Whatever your goals, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment once you achieve them. Hint: Setting unrealistic goals could make even a good internship seem bad, so make sure your goals are realistic and attainable in your internship.
  • Have Regular Meetings with your Supervisor(s). Sound obvious? Well, maybe, but you may get a supervisor who never schedules meetings with you or travels quite a bit, so you have to make sure to have regular meetings where you can share experiences and lessons learned — both good and bad — as well as give progress reports. Hint: While you want to keep your supervisor abreast of your accomplishments, remember to also be a good listener and learn as much as you can during these meetings.
  • Tackle all Tasks with Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude. In just about every company, the new hire/intern is going to have to “pay his or her dues.” You will undoubtedly be given some grunt work to do, such as making photocopies, but the key is to complete all your work assignments with the same level of enthusiasm and professionalism. Hint: You might also consider working extra hours (beyond the required number for the internship) to show your work ethic to your supervisor(s).
  • Avoid Negativity. The quickest way to kill a good internship is being negative. So, avoid complaining, being rude, disrespecting coworkers, arriving late, leaving early, being closed-minded, missing deadlines, appearing arrogant, wearing improper attire, acting unprofessionally, appearing inflexible, and taking part in office politics. Hint: A common mistake among interns and new hires is treating secretaries and clerks as being beneath them — avoid this behavior at all costs.
  • Never Shun a Chance to Learn More About the Company/Industry. Take every opportunity presented to you to attend company or industry meetings, conferences, and events; participate in training workshops; and read all company materials. Hint: Meetings may appear (and actually be) boring to you, but they can often offer a good chance to increase your knowledge, network, and build relationships.
  • Get as Much Exposure as Possible. Some of the best internships rotate you among departments and supervisors, but if yours doesn’t, don’t let that stop you from tackling new tasks, meeting people outside your department, and attending company social events. The more you are exposed to new ideas and new people, the more you’ll learn. Hint: Joining the company softball team (or other informal group) is a great opportunity to meet new people in a relaxed and informal environment.
  • Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions. Always remember that an internship is a learning experience for you. While the employer expects to get a certain level of work from you, you are not expected to know everything. Seek advice and raise questions whenever you encounter something that is not familiar to you. Be open-minded about new ideas and procedures — remember that you don’t know everything and that your professors didn’t teach you everything. Hint: Smart people know that there really is no such thing as a dumb question, so ask before doing.
  • Take Initiative. Employers love employees who dive into tackling tough problems and who think “outside the box” in finding solutions. Just make sure you work with your supervisor(s) so you don’t overstep your authority — and make sure you share successes with her. Hint: There is a fine line between taking initiative and being perceived as a “know-it-all,” and for interns especially, it is best to err on the side of caution.
  • Find a Mentor. A mentor is someone at a higher level in the organization that looks out for you and makes sure you are learning what you need to know and accomplishing what you need to do. A mentor can also shield you from office politics and be a good sounding board for you to discuss ideas, ask questions, etc. Hint: Your supervisor could be your mentor, but it could also be another person within the organization.
  • Leave with Tangible Accomplishments. One of your goals with any internship is leaving it with some tangible results – both for your resume and your career portfolio (if you use one). Maybe you developed a brochure, computerized an inventory system, organized a sales conference, met with clients, tracked industry trends, etc. Hint: Keeping a journal may help you remember all the things you accomplished on your internship.
  • Enjoy Yourself. Most internships are great experiences, so make sure you have some fun while you’re working and learning. Don’t be so uptight that you are perceived as something you’re not. Hint: Just make sure you don’t overdo the fun — and avoid office romances.