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By: Noel Dahl on March 6th, 2017

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3 Truly Amazing Internships for Art Students

Careers | Internships

What does it really take to vault your resume onto the desks of America’s top creative employers?

Here’s what the senior art director of a Fortune 500 company said recently in a Quora post:

“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.”

In other words, in your job hunt, your art school degree and even your grades probably won’t single-handedly get you the job of your dreams. What will help a lot, however, is a great internship.

The Benefits of Internships for Art Students

Landing an internship is a proven way to get your foot in the door with an otherwise hard-to-impress employer. According to an Internships.com poll, you have a 7 in ten chance of being hired by the company you intern for.

But 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.

Here are 3 examples of internships for art students that will help you:

  • Build a network of industry contacts.
  • Bolster your resume
  • Apply your college lessons to solving real-world problems.

The Innovation Kitchen at Nike

Major: 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. “It’s really like the top of the top internship you can get in industrial design,” says Haley, an industrial design student at California College of the Arts.

The experience: Watch Haley’s story here. “I went from working in bike shops to working with one of the top companies in the world,” Haley says. “Seeing the change from my first year [at CCA] over the last three years is insane.”

Intel

Major: Design (MFA)

The internship: Intel is among the largest, most influential tech companies in the world. Yet when California College of the Arts student Juan arrived there for his 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,” Juan says, adding that, as a member of the team, he had access to some of the “smartest and most-talented people in the world.”

Pixar

Major: Animation

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

The experience: With the support of his professor at California College of the Arts, Daniel Gonzales 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.”” explains CCA’s Andrew Lyndon, himself a Pixar vet. “Daniel worked on Pixar tools to create animation that’s just like what they do there.”

Daniel used his connections at Pixar to win a coveted job there after graduation and is now an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

How to Get These Great Internships for Art Students

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 California College of the Arts make internships a top priority (and for some curriculum, they’re required) and work hard to help students perfect their portfolios, resumes, and interview techniques so they are set up to land the internships of their dreams.

If you have any questions about finding an art college or an art internship, let us know in the comments section below.

You might also find answers in our step-by-step guide for finding the right art school for your career goals. Click on the link below to get your free copy.

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About Noel Dahl

Noel Dahl is director of graduate admissions at California College of the Arts, where he oversees the recruitment, admissions, and enrollment functions of the school's graduate programs. He received his MFA in Fine Arts and has worked in higher education for the past 15 years.

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