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Paid summer internships help high schoolers “design” career paths

Completing a paid summer internship through MIAD’s yearlong Design Internship Program provided many Milwaukee-area high school students their first opportunity to work in a professional setting related to their career interests.

“I didn’t think that I would be in an actual office environment where everyone was working on real projects,” says Timiyia Lewis, a senior at Messmer Catholic High School who interned at RINKA+. “My favorite part of this experience was having my own little office and the people I was working with. They made me feel like I was a part of the actual job, and not just a two-week intern. RINKA+ taught me how to look at a floor plan and understand what I’m looking at. One of the designers taught me to not be afraid to rearrange certain things in a floor plan. They showed me how they determine what kind of materials/tiles they use for their clients. Overall, RINKA+ taught me to … follow what my heart desires.”

At Hanson Dodge, Lana Xiong, a senior at Hmong American Peace Academy, says she “learned about the various positions within an advertising company and how it all goes into play with how advertisements are created. I learned about the creative team, tech team and social media team, all elaborating what they do within the agency.”

“MIAD’s Design Internship Program was founded in 2021 to provide underserved Milwaukee-area high school students the unique opportunity to learn and explore career options in design and architecture,” says Laura Boban, Youth + Community Outreach Coordinator. “Students get a real sense of the work of a creative profession through hands-on, collaborative projects at a local firm or studio. This experience, along with design workshops, mentorship and year-round tuition-free youth classes at MIAD, create a pipeline from high school to college to career. The program is all about exposure and education in the field of design so that students can make informed decisions about their futures, and we’re here to support them with that!” 

In 2022, 45 students, 90% of whom are students of color, are participating from 17 area high schools. In 2023, the college seeks to expand the program to provide 60 internships, with continued special consideration given to students of color. Nearly 100 students applied for the internships through MIAD’s partnerships with their schools.

Sion Martin a senior at Reagan High School who interned at Maker LLC, says, “The unwavering support that we received, as well as constructive criticism … was incredibly helpful in the sense that it guided me to look at more possibilities… I gained a broader understanding of design in general…”

Damarys Cerda, a sophomore at St. Augustine Prep, also interned at Hanson Dodge. “My favorite part about the program was how many diverse and creative individuals I was able to see and work with,” she says, “and also having the opportunity to actually be in a workplace.”

MIAD’s 2022 internship partners also included Core Creative and Engberg Anderson Architects.To learn how your student can participate in the Design Internship or other MIAD youth programs, or how your business can partner with MIAD to create opportunity for Milwaukee’s talented students and grow diversity within our community’s creative industries, visit miad.edu/designinternship, or contact Laura Boban at lauraboban@miad.edu.

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