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Internships

General Information

COVID-19 Update

In response to the impact the Coronavirus has had on the internship market we have developed alternative professional development opportunities for graduating students to fulfill their required internship hours – the Architecture Division Micro-Internship Initiative. Please contact the program internship coordinators, Randy Ruiz (BArch, randy@cca.edu), Amy Campos (Interior Design, acampos@cca.edu), or Jason Anderson (MArch, tanderson@cca.edu) for more information.

About

The purpose of the Interior Design internship program is to provide students with a grounded, real-world experience in a professional design environment.

While the role of an intern is humble in nature, each student will be exposed to the daily processes involved in running an interior design office, which may include any of the following:

  • project management
  • client relations and business development
  • research, feasibility studies and preparation of reports
  • collaboration with designers and other consultants
  • design presentations
  • detailing and drafting
  • documentation
  • administration

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

How will an internship benefit me?

  • Increase your chances of getting a job after graduation.
  • Take your first step as a professional.
  • Obtain additional skills and expertise that will enhance the completion of your degree.
  • Help professionals understand the value of CCA students.

When should I do an internship?

It is recommended that students try to gain professional work experience early and often beyond the internship requirement. The more students understand the role of interior designers in practice, the more they can leverage their learning at CCA. (This may mean doing internships beyond the one required for graduation.)

Although required for the completion of your degree, the course is counted as zero credits. This permits you to be paid for your work.

What are the requirements?

To be eligible internship credit, a student must have successfully completed all required courses in the third year of the Interior Design BFA program.

After securing employment at an approved site, students must log a minimum of 225 hours at the site. CCA's Interior Design program requires that all student interns and employees be compensated for their work.

While compensation should be negotiated with your employer, we suggest students be paid $15 per hour, minimally, as an employee. Contract work can also be counted towards internship credit and the hourly rate should include appropriate tax and additional overhead. We may approve exceptions in instances where a student volunteers for a nonprofit organization.

If volunteering for a nonprofit, the student should verify the site with their internship coordinator.

How do I get my internship site approved?

Students perform their own internship search using a variety of resources: industry websites and job boards, program suggestions, Career Development resources; networking, and personal contacts.

Prior to starting work, students 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.)

For a site to be approved, it must provide interior design services. Teaching assistants and researchers paid by the college may count their experience towards internship. Prior approval is required by the internship coordinator.

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, students must first meet with their academic advisor, followed by meeting with the internship coordinator, early in the spring or fall semester, prior to starting their internship search.

How do I register for the internship requirement?

During Priority Registration, prior to starting the internship, students will register in WorkDay for an Internship Placeholder (INTER 3980-1).

During the Add/Drop period; students who have registered for the Internship Placeholder and who have a learning agreement on file, will be registered by Student Records in the internship course (INTER 3890-2); check your schedule during Add/Drop for these changes.

Registration in the Internship course INTER 3890-2 is not available for online registration. Questions about this should be directed to the internship coordinator.

Students who have registered for the Internship 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 course.

Students who wish to receive credit for an internship they have just completed, but have not gone through 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, students work with their 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, you must fill out the learning agreement and schedule a meeting 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 may 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 will track their internship hours on the internship hours log that they will turn into the internship coordinator after the internship is completed.

After the student submits the Internship Hours Log to the Internship Coordinator, the program will send the supervisor and student 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 and also 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.

Project section or additional requirements

Journal or IDP Documentation

Interns are required to keep a short weekly journal of their activities while at work. Time spent journaling or completing IDP forms is personal and should not be charged to the internship site.

Sample Work

Upon completion of the internship, interns are to submit two pages of images showing examples of completed work during the internship with caption descriptor.

Students shall request permission to use the images from the employer and provide appropriate attribution to the work (i.e., “image courtesy of Smith Associates”).

These images are to be submitted in PDF format with the forms and journal.

Tips for Success

Basics

First things first. Prepare your presentation: résumé, cover letter, and projects.

Work with Career Development to prepare for your internship. They can help with your résumé, portfolio, job search, and more! Don’t forget to search internship and job opportunities on Handshake, read about opportunities in the Architecture Division Digest, and attend Career Expo to connect with employers.

Things to think about

  • Networking! Get noticed (you might get only 15 seconds to make an impression).
  • Perfect is the enemy of the good!
  • A fully finished portfolio is not necessary to get an internship.
  • Show process work as well as final presentations.
  • Projects should be one- or two-page summaries for each.
  • Be clear, concise, and well-designed graphically.

How to contact the firms?

Research firms you believe to have a connection to your work. Firm websites are an excellent source of information about a firm’s mission, goals, project types, professional bios (alumni networks!), work on the boards, and positions available.

  • Contact the company first by phone and verify to whom your application materials should be personalized.
  • Send a PDF of a formal cover letter, résumé, and a few pages (no more than five) of images of your sample work. This can be sent via web link or email.
  • If you send work by email, be sure that your file is a PDF of maximum 5MB and references your name. (i.e., SusanSmith_InteriorDesign Intern.PDF).
  • The body of your email should be consistent with your cover letter.
  • Your cover letter and sample work should distinguish you from your peers (there are many students from other institutions throughout the world looking for internships here in the Bay Area). Adhere to conventional, elegant graphic layout, but allow your words and images tell your story.
  • Follow firm guidelines for the submission of your application materials. Many firms have FTP sites that facilitate the application process. Be sure to learn if this system applies to the application process before you follow up with the firm.

Strategy: How to request a face-to-face meeting?

Don't ask for an internship! Instead, ask for a meeting to review your work. If you say you are looking for an internship, it puts the person on the other end of your communication in a tough situation. Currently the company may not be looking for an intern. Or they may be looking for one, but the intern supervisor may not have time to meet with you. Or they may need someone but haven't officially set the internship hiring process in motion.

Often the person you talk to will say, "We are not looking for an intern right now," or something like that. You need to get your foot in the door, literally. One strategy is to ask the person you are contacting if they can meet with you to review your portfolio or work you have done to date in college.You want feedback from a professional. That's it. This sets up a good first meeting feeling and agenda. All the person is committing to is a meeting to discuss and give feedback on your work.

If you cannot get a meeting, do not push too hard. This may create a bad impression for future opportunities.

How to prepare for the meeting?

You get the appointment! Do your homework. Learn as much about the company as you can:

  • Visit websites (company websites, local chapter IIDA job boards, etc).
  • Read national and international press. Find information on local firms that have been published.
  • Talk to your professors, peers, and alumni to see what they know.
  • Talk to upperclassmen who have already done internships.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Practice your presentation at least three times with someone. Get comfortable with your material. Do not go in cold; it may be your only shot. Career Development can help you practice by doing mock interviews.
  • Plan ahead. Confirm the appointment a day in advance (call or email) and ask with whom you will be meeting (i.e., project manager, design principal, project architect, HR)
  • Dress casually, but presentably: clean, ironed shirt, pants, skirt, and so forth. Suits are not necessary. Ask your instructors if you have questions.
  • Be on time, or even a few minutes early. Do not be late. Give yourself time to stop sweating from the walk or bike ride you took to get there.
  • Be courteous, professional, and articulate in all of your interactions with any staff.

How to approach the meeting?

Show the person your work and engage them in discussion. If you have prepared in advance, you will have questions about the company.

  • Before beginning the conversation, clarify how much time you have for your conversation.
  • Be pleasant and as articulate as possible. Be clear when you explain your work.
  • Be accepting of criticism. Take notes!
  • Ask for a tour of the office.
  • During the conversation, if it seems appropriate, ask if they hire interns. In some cases, the person you are meeting will volunteer this information before you ask. If the situation is awkward, don't bring it up.
  • When you leave, say "thank you".

How to follow-up after the meeting?

Check in every month or so and ask about a follow-up meeting for an internship. Now, since they know you, the second meeting will be easy!

You get an ambiguous or no response. They keep saying, "Call me next week," "We are busy, but aren't ready to hire," "We are waiting for this job to come through," and the like. What this means . . .

They aren't ready to hire, so keep your options open and go on other interviews and meetings. Don't wait around for this one opportunity. Have as many irons in the fire as you can.

No one returns your phone calls or emails. This means they are busy, and the internship isn't the first thing on their to do list. Keep trying until you get in contact with someone, even if it means you have to call and/or email weekly.

If you begin to feel too uncomfortable, stop. You want to be persistent without harassing anyone.

You are rejected. No one likes it, but get used to this. It's impossible to please everyone, and people are entitled to their opinions. Part of the job of finding an internship is finding a place where you want to work. If one potential employer doesn't feel the fit, that is OK. Just accept it, thank them, and move on to your next choice. You will likely have many meetings and interviews before you get the one you want.

Keep in touch with them either way. You never know where it might lead.

You get the internship. Congratulations! Contact the Internship Coordinator and give them the Learning Agreement in advance so they have time to research and give site approval before the internship begins.

International students will also give the CPT form to sign before turning into ISAP for authorization to work.