Thursday, December 7, 2023

Importance of internship in design to create synergy between academics and industry

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Design education has evolved significantly over the years, with emphasis on not only theoretical knowledge but also practical skills. For aspiring young professionals, an internship plays a vital role in striking a balance between their academic training and embarking on a career in their chosen field.
Although finding an ideal internship may seem like a formidable undertaking, it is an exciting opportunity to gain practical experience, industry exposure, valuable skills, and real-world experience.
Internships serve as a valuable bridge between academic learning and entering the professional realm. Although some internships may be unpaid, they provide a unique opportunity for practical, trainee-level experience that is typically not accessible. This pivotal experience accelerates the transition from learning to pursuing your career goals.
Some potential benefits that the internship provides are:
Helps in gaining practical exposure
School imparts essential skills, yet lacks exposure to real-world work dynamics. This underscores the vital role of internships. They not only facilitate learning from experienced professionals but also provide insights into their journeys and lessons learned, leading to your own progress. Internships immerse you in industry jargon, which is invaluable for interviews. They are the gateway to opportunities.
Although classroom learning is invaluable, its true potential is realised when applied in a professional context. It is best to learn a new concept immediately after mastering it. Internships, which often align with academic programs, take place during enrollment, summer breaks, or post-graduation, ensuring quick application of freshly acquired knowledge.
Opportunity to learn and make mistakes: 
Internships bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and practical application, providing practical experience where skills come to life. Skill mentors and enriching internships shape young professionals’ perspectives on the working world, preparing them for the next steps in their careers. Exceptional mentorship ignites a passion for learning, providing a safe space for experimentation and growth.
It is essential for students to develop communication skills, no matter their department or role. There should be a continuous focus on prioritising growth opportunities in this sector.  A thorough review of internship position descriptions can reveal tasks that facilitate the development of these important skills, ensuring a well-rounded professional foundation.
Opportunities to build a network
Internships provide a unique platform to build relationships with both experienced professionals and peers within the design community. Developing relationships during internships can lead to mentorship, collaborative ventures, and even potential job opportunities. This invaluable networking opportunity doesn’t just extend to experienced people. As your career progresses, these professional bonds can prove helpful in assisting each other in securing positions within our respective companies or receiving recommendations.
Understanding client and business needs
Gaining a comprehensive understanding of customer and business needs is an important aspect of the internship experience. Through practical participation in real projects, trainees are exposed to the complexities of understanding client expectations, overcoming budget constraints, and adhering to project timelines. This practical exposure equips interns with invaluable insights into the business side of their chosen field, fostering the ability to create solutions that not only meet but align seamlessly with client objectives.
This direct encounter with real-world scenarios not only hones professional skills but also underlines the practical relevance and application of academic knowledge, thereby preparing interns for successful transitions into their future careers.
Internships not only refine students’ skills but also gain a deeper understanding of the industry, positioning them for success in their design careers. Internships are an essential element of modern design education, offering students a comprehensive learning experience that complements their academic pursuits.

(The author, Rekha Kejriwal, is the Academic Director of Academy of Fashion & Art (AFA))

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