Internships

Internships are the fastest way for students to get hands-on, real-world experience in a professional design environment.

Every interaction design student is required to do an internship while at CCA. This is typically done in the third year, often in the summer prior to your senior year. This exposes you to the working life of professional designers, where you can experience what different kinds careers might be like.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact the internship coordinator to set up a one-on-one in person consultation about your internship.

Why do an internship?
  • Expand your educational experience into the professional world of design.
  • Increases your chances of securing a professional position in your chosen field.
  • Contribute to a broad understanding of the values, skills, and commitments necessary for achieving success within the discipline of design.
How will an internship benefit me?

An internship expands your educational experience into the professional world of design, increasing your chances of securing a professional position in your chosen field. It also contributes to a broad understanding of the values, skills, and commitment that CCA students bring to the discipline of design.

Through internships, you are exposed to the daily practices involved in a design-related industry.

Among them:

  • Design research, synthesis, fieldwork, etc.
  • Working with diverse designers, architects, and other consultants
  • Product development, selection, specification, and coordination
  • Innovation processes, brainstorming, envisioning, etc.
  • Collaboration across disciplines including engineering, marketing, business, etc.
  • Interpersonal coordination, organization, discipline, professionalism, etc.
  • Design presentations and proposal development
  • Client relations and project management
  • Go-to-market strategies
When should I do an internship?

You should try to gain professional work experience early and often -- beyond the requirement. The more you understand the role of the designer in the work environment, the more you can leverage your learning at CCA. This may mean doing internships beyond the one required for graduation.

What are the requirements?

To be a CCA IxD intern host, a few conditions exist potential employers need to have approved by the IxD Program.

The organization needs to have:

  • a reputation for good design.
  • at least two interaction designers with 5+ years experience in the field.
  • one senior designer to be intern mentor.
  • provide an environment where students can try, fail, and learn, much like an apprenticeship model.

You must log a minimum of 225 hours at the internship site. The internship counts for 3 credits and is generally completed during the summer between junior and senior years. To receive credit, you must enroll in the IxD Internship course (see “How Do I Register for the Internship Requirement?” below).

While compensation should be negotiated with your employer, we suggest students be paid at least minimum wage per local/state regulations. Many students are paid significantly more given the market for interaction design talent ($20-$40/hr). CCA supports Federal and California Labor Department requirements that all student interns be fairly compensated for their work.

How do I get my internship site approved?

You perform your own internship search using a variety of resources: industry websites and job boards, program suggestions, Career Development resources (Handshake Job Board, Weekly Picks, and Career Expo); networking, and personal contacts.

Prior to starting work, you must obtain site approval from the program’s internship coordinator. Early verification of the internship site is critical to obtaining credit for the internship, especially if the site is located outside of the United States.

To receive credit for internships located outside of the United States, obtaining site approval from the internship coordinator is required. International students must contact CCA's ISAP for instructions and requirements related to employment in the United States and abroad.

Any site, payment arrangement, or type of experience that falls outside of the requirements listed above must be approved by an internship coordinator prior to the start of any work.

How Do I Start the Internship Process?

To initiate the internship process, you must first meet with your academic advisor, followed by meeting with your internship coordinator, early in the spring or fall semester, prior to starting your internship search.

How Do I Register for the Internship Requirement?

During Priority Registration, prior to starting the internship, you will register for an Interaction Design Internship Placeholder (IXDSN-398-01).

After completing the internship, during the Add/Drop period, students who have registered for the Placeholder and who have a Learning Agreement on file, will be registered by Student Records in the actual internship course (IXDSN 398-02). Check your schedule for these changes.

Students who have registered for the Placeholder, but do not have a Learning Agreement on file will be dropped from the Internship Placeholder and will not be registered for the internship requirement.

Students who wish to receive credit for an internship they have just completed, but have not completed the process correctly, must contact the internship coordinator as soon as possible.

Important: A $200 late fee may be charged for adding the internship course after the Add/Drop deadline.

Required documentation pre-internship

After an internship offer is made, you will work with the site supervisor to complete the Learning Agreement, negotiating the terms, learning objectives, and expectations of the internship.

To receive internship credit, the Learning Agreement must be submitted to the Internship Coordinator for site approval before starting the internship.

International students must fill out the Learning Agreement and meet with CCA's ISAP Office before work authorization can be granted.

Requirements during and post-internship

Midpoint check-in

A quick check-in by email or phone will be conducted by a CCA representative with both the student and the internship supervisor to ensure the internship is going as expected.

Post-internship

Students track their internship hours on the Internship Hours Log that they turn into the internship coordinator  after the internship is completed.

After you submit the Internship Hours Log to the internship coordinator  the program will send you and your site supervisor a digital evaluation form (submission of all these forms is required for successful completion of the internship course).

An email confirmation will be sent to the student’s CCA email address confirming the evaluation has been sent as well as when the completed evaluation is received by CCA.

If the Employer Evaluation is not received, the student is responsible for following up with the employer to ensure its completion before the deadline.

Contact the internship coordinator with questions about the process.