Product Design Required Internship

Product design student showing off a project at a research poster showcase

The purpose of the required internship is to provide you with an opportunity to work in a professional environment under the guidance of design professionals. It is an important transition step between your education and your professional career.

Product Design Internship FAQs

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How many internships are required?

  • For your degree, you are required to complete one internship experience with a 100-hour minimum.
  • Outside of that, we encourage you to seek out more internship/work experiences in different work environments. By doing so, you will diversify your portfolio and gain work experience in different settings


Is PDES 3196 a class?

  • Yes, but it is not a traditional class in that it has no regularly scheduled lectures or class time. While it does satisfy a credit requirement, the grade will be S/N and the minimal workload should not impede your ability to take this course in addition to a full academic load.
  • See course requirements under the “Do I need to submit any documents during or after my internship?” question.  
  • You will be able to enroll in PDes 3196 after your Internship Experience Agreement has been approved by both your internship site supervisor and your faculty internship advisor. You should enroll in PDes 3196 during the term in which you will complete your internship.


Who will be my major internship supervisor?

Product design program director, Tejas Dhadphale, will serve as your major internship supervisor.

Note: All internships for course credit need to be approved by Tejas Dhadphale before you complete the work and before you can register.

When should I complete my internship?

You may complete your internship any time after completing the fall semester of year two. This allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you gained in the foundation courses (PDes 2701, 2702, 2703, 2704, 2771, and 2777). You may not complete your required internship prior to the spring semester of year two, as you will not have developed enough core skills in your courses.
It is most beneficial for you to have completed your internship prior to your senior year, though it is possible to complete an internship during the first semester of senior year. The second semester of senior year is also possible, but it may be too late for your internship work to be included in your portfolio for an initial job search.

Where may I do my internship?

Your internship may be at any company connected to product design where you will be doing the actual design of products or services. Try to find internships that excite you as well as diversify your portfolio. Some possible companies to look for include:

  • A small company that develops products.
  • A large corporation that develops consumer goods.
  • A large corporation that develops specialized products.
  • A large corporation that provides services.
  • A product design consultancy.
  • A start-up or venture that involves products.
  • A product branding/marketing/advertising company. (Note: Before planning too far for an internship in this area, be sure to discuss your idea with the faculty internship supervisor to get their approval.)

How do I find a site for an internship?

It is your responsibility to find an internship. Your first step should be to meet with a career counselor in Career and Internship Services. Feel free to consult with your faculty advisor and be sure to refer to the Internship Checklist.

Internship postings are listed in Handshake, although students frequently find an internship by contacting a work site directly to inquire about internship possibilities.
For internship hours to count toward your for-credit internship, you must receive approval from your faculty advisor BEFORE beginning your internship. Please read through the Internship Checklist for more details.


When do I complete the paperwork to enroll in an internship?

Be sure to carefully review both the Internship Checklist and the Internship Contract & Course Access Instructions to understand the overall internship process. After you have met with your major internship supervisor and your internship site supervisor to work out the arrangements of the internship, carefully complete the contract (or, “internship experience agreement”) and enrollment portion of your internship.
Fall term and spring term internships:
Connect with your major internship supervisor to obtain approval for your Internship Experience Agreement. This must be submitted and approved PRIOR to beginning work. Refer to the Internship Checklist.
Summer internships:

  • Major internship supervisors are not on staff during the summer, associate department head Fancy Trice can approve proposals submitted over the summer. For assistance, contact her at [email protected].
  • Connect Fancy Trice to obtain approval for your Internship Experience Agreement. This must be submitted and approved PRIOR to beginning work. Refer to the Internship Checklist.
  • You must submit the documentation from your summer internship by the last day of summer term.

How do I get credit for my internship?

  • Complete the Internship Experience Agreement via your Handshake account. Refer to the Internship Checklist.
  • The Internship Experience Agreement must be completed, including faculty advisor and site supervisor signatures, before you begin your internship hours.
  • Enroll in PDes 3196, which is a 2-credit course.
  • Complete a minimum of 100 hours of internship work and submit the required documentation listed in "Do I need to submit any documents during or after my internship?" Note: Many internships are significantly more than 100 hours. This does not change or add additional requirements.
  • The internship grade base is S/N, which means that you must earn the equivalent of a C- or better in order to receive credit for the course.

Can the faculty advisor sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

No. You may sign an NDA; your faculty advisor will not sign an NDA. In order to assess your work and, thus, grade your work in the class, the faculty advisor needs to be able to review your work without any obligation to your site.    

Do I need to create learning goals for my internship?

Yes. As part of the Internship Experience Agreement, you will create learning goals together with your faculty internship advisor and your internship site supervisor. Refer to the Internship Checklist.

Your goals should be your commitment to what you would like to task yourself with during your experience. They should be challenging goals, the achievement of which you will be able to clearly identify. Examples include:

  • Work as a member of an established industrial design team and understand the professional design process.
  • Grow my rapid ideation skills through work on projects.
  • Work with the design team to engage in qualitative user research on competitive products.
  • Improve my CAD skills by working on conceptual and prototype concepts.
  • Become proficient in creating and analyzing CAD models in NX.
  • Learn how design process works in large company, and how systems of designers, engineers, quality, manufacturing collaborate effectively throughout various stages of design and production.
  • Improve structural design and user experience design skills through packaging design.

Please note:

  • Things can change during the course of an internship, so you may need to edit or substitute your goals as your internship progresses.
  • You should address your learning goals and how you met or modified them through your experience when you write your internship recap. (See the "Do I need to submit any documents during or after my internship?" FAQ below.)

What tasks are expected of me during my internship?

Internship tasks will differ from site to site.

Do I need to submit any documents during or after my internship?

Yes. You must submit an internship recap (to include the following) to your faculty advisor via Canvas:

  • A log of hours completed during your internship.
  • Five to 10 portfolio pages that showcase the work you completed on project(s) that include:
    • your role in each project
    • a brief description of each project
    • images from your design notebook, sketches, CAD models, prototypes, and any other documents to best portray your work.

In addition, you will go over the materials submitted and discuss your internship experience during a one-on-one review with your faculty internship advisor. More information on the deliverables required will be available on Canvas after course registration and in discussion with your faculty internship advisor.