Three truly amazing internships for art students

These internships held by recent California College of the Arts students became launchpads for their future careers.

Benefits of Being an Intern

Gain work experience that will impress employers

Stand out in a competitive field

In your job hunt, your art school degree and even your grades probably won’t set you apart from your fellow grads. What will, however, is a great internship.

Landing an internship is a proven way to get your foot in the door with an otherwise hard-to-impress employer. According to an poll, you have a seven in 10 chance of being hired by the company you intern for.

“The portfolio is what everyone looks at, hands down. The portfolio is the great and ultimate equalizer. Heck, for a designer job, I’d hire someone with a knockout portfolio and a high school education before I’d hire an MFA with a mediocre one and not think twice about it.”

— Terry Douglas

Senior Art Director for a Fortune 500 Company, on Quora

Build a stronger network and skillset

Whether or not your internship leads to a job offer, the right internship will give you the work experience and portfolio firepower to get noticed in the creative field. Following are three examples of internships for art students that will help you build a network of industry contacts, bolster your resume, and apply your college lessons to solving real-world problems.


Experience new development processes

Haley Toelle (BFA Industrial Design 2012) shares her story of interning at some of the leading companies in the country while still a student at CCA.

Related program: Industrial Design

The internship: The Innovation Kitchen is sporting giant Nike’s semi-secret “underground lab,” where some of its most groundbreaking products first take shape.

The experience: “It’s really like the top of the top internship you can get in industrial design,” says Haley Toelle (Industrial Design 2012). “I went from working in bike shops to working with one of the top companies in the world. Seeing the change from my first year [at CCA] over the last three years is insane.”


Collaborate alongside top-notch professionals

Related program: MFA in Design

The internship: Intel is among the largest, most influential tech companies in the world. Yet when CCA studentJuan Correa (MFA Graphic Design, MBA Design Strategy 2015) arrived for his Intel internship, he found himself working as a member of a small, elite team.

The experience: “The internship provided me with a small, agile team, independent from big, corporate decisions and one that was capable of moving at the pace required for a fluent design process,” Correa says, adding that, as a member of the team, he had access to some of the “smartest and most talented people in the world.”


Learn how to use industry-standard tools

Related program: Animation

The internship: Pixar is nearly synonymous with computer animation. The animation powerhouse pioneered its field and continues to lead with blockbuster and Oscar-winning features and shorts. It’s every animator’s dream workplace.

The experience: With the support of CCA professor Andrew Lyndon, Daniel Gonzales (Animation, 2010) became the youngest intern at Pixar, where he spent a summer learning from and working with Pixar’s industry legends.

“Daniel got this great opportunity to basically go to Pixar and sit down for a couple of months with Pixar animators,” says Lyndon, co-chair of CCA’s Animation program and himself a Pixar alum.

During his internship, Gonzales learned to create Pixar-worthy animation using the tools of its professional artists. Afterward, Gonzales tapped his connections to win a coveted job at Pixar upon graduation and is now an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Learn about Pixar and CCA’s recent collaboration Pixar@CCA

How to Find an Internship

Pick a school that emphasizes practice

What does it really take to vault your resume onto the desks of America’s top creative employers? To find a great internship, start by finding a great art school that values the experience and industry connections you’ll gain from your internship.

Schools like CCA make internships a top priority (and for some curriculum, they’re required), and our Career Development team works hard to help students perfect their portfolios, resumes, and interview techniques so they are set up to land the internships—and potentially the jobs—of their dreams.