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MIAD Design Internship welcomes new partners

From its inception in 2020, the Design Internship at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) has impacted Milwaukee’s creative landscape and exposed future artists and designers to careers in the field. This year, the successful program expanded to 12 area partners and will serve 56 Milwaukee-area high school students in 2024.

Begun with inaugural partner Hanson Dodge, MIAD’s Design Internship is a free, yearlong program for high school students interested in design as a career option, with special consideration given to BIPOC students. It comprises a two-week paid internship at a professional partner, tuition-free access to MIAD’s Summer and Weekend Pre-College courses, and Fall and Spring mentorship opportunities with MIAD faculty, alumni and students. The 2023-2024 program is primarily supported by Bader Philanthropies, the National Endowment for the Arts and Otto Bremer Trust.

“Design is everywhere,” says Brad Richards, VP of Design and Creative Director Motorcycle at Harley-Davidson, one of Design Internship’s new 2024 professional partners. “Good design improves our lives, solves problems, and inspires us to think differently. Thanks to the advancement of digital technology, design tools have never been more readily accessible. Having said that, the path to a professional design career remains a mystery to many. That’s why initiatives like MIAD’s high school Design Internship program are so valuable. By providing exposure to design, and a design curriculum, at such an early stage in a potential designer’s career, and to a more diverse pool of students, we are ensuring that those that are design-curious can begin to develop the skills needed to excel to the highest regions of the trade.”

In addition to Harley-Davidson, MIAD’s Design Internship welcomes new partners Boelter + Lincoln, Eppstein Uhen Architects, JWD Creative, Milwaukee Brewers and Workshop Architects. They join MIAD Design Internship’s already outstanding core of returning partners: Core Creative, Cramer-Krasselt, Engberg Anderson, Hanson Dodge, Maker LLC and Plunkett Raysich Architects.

Richards continues, “At Harley-Davidson, emotion is a core element of our DNA. For over 120 years, we have been perfecting the emotional connection between rider and motorcycle. We could not continue to evolve this powerful connection without world-class industrial design talent, which is why we passionately support MIAD’s high school Design Internship program.”

Students who intern at Harley-Davidson will work in their Design and Apparel & Licensing divisions, learning skills that they can build on during MIAD’s Pre-College program, which offers Fashion and Apparel Design and Product Design classes. Another of the new partners, the Milwaukee Brewers, will offer students experience in their Retail Store/Branding department. This focus on styling and brand work reflects student interest and coincides with MIAD’s newest major in Fashion and Apparel Design, as well as the large number of students MIAD enrolls in its Communication (Graphic) Design and Illustration majors.

Interest in the program has continued to steadily rise throughout the past three years among students and area organizations, and Maeve Morris, MIAD’s Youth + Community Outreach Coordinator, hopes the program will support 65 students in 2025. “We are continuing to see a significant increase in the demand for the program, including from students who wish to repeat the experience,” says Morris. “With the support of Milwaukee’s creative community, we are increasing from 45 interns to 56 interns in 2024, and we are definitely looking to expand the program.”

Tharuki Jayawardena, a student who applied for the 2024 Design Internship program, hopes to learn about architecture and design during the Design Internship. “From a very young age, watching houses being built on my street sparked a curiosity in me … I knew ever since that I wanted to be one of the minds behind those spaces, to understand precisely why the layout of the house I live in now is so different from that of my grandparent’s house in Sri Lanka or why certain places can create such a warm feeling in everyone. This program would be a great place to apply my skills in problem-solving, communication, technology and art.”

The application deadline for the 2024 program is February 1, 2024. Learn more about MIAD’s Design Internship program, including how to participate as a professional partner or a student.

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