Internships and Apprenticeships

Jared Benson's picture

With Summer fast approaching, many will begin to look for internships and apprenticeships in the world of type design. Let's pool what we know. Paid or unpaid, what opportunities do you see out there? Who typically accepts interns? Who amongst you have apprenticed to learn the craft?

If you're an independent type designer, or run a small foundry, what would be your criteria for selecting an incoming intern or apprentice?

Will Stanford's picture

I am not 100% about the US but in the Uk the minimum wage act means that offering an unpaid internship is illegal.

I have however been on a couple of minimum wage paying internships which proved very good as learning experiences.
I would happily intern at any design studio whose work i admired - my ability to learn from those better than me is the only criteria i feel is important.


Dan Gayle's picture

If I were a professional type designer accepting a Padawan, I'd have my apprentice sit in front of a blank wall and contemplate the universe for 5 days. If they manage to attain to inner peace and harmony, I'd let them go. (Obviously not cut out for type design.)

If they can sit and grumble for 5 days while staring at a blank wall, perhaps punching it now and then, then they are qualified to learn Fontlab and to continue their lessons.


blank's picture

…then they are qualified to learn Fontlab and to continue their lessons.

This is one reason that there are so few type internships. Most internships last less than three months. But people often need much more than three months to figure out Fontlab (or type design software in general).

Bendy's picture

I'm currently interning part-time and have spoken to several (small) design and publishing companies here in Brighton who rely quite heavily on interns. From the company's side, they really just want somebody who's clued up enough to be a real help, so they'll review applicants' CVs carefully. At interview, they'll make sure the person isn't weird, but also go through a portfolio to see what skills they can bring and develop.

>in the Uk the minimum wage act means that offering an unpaid internship is illegal.

Still, according to YouGov, 40% of interns here are not paid or receive expenses only. I think people assume the minimum wage doesn't apply somehow. For me it's a personal choice. I'd certainly consider an expenses-only type internship if such a thing existed; it would depend on the job description.

raikki's picture

@Bendy, my partner is trying to get an internship in publishing – would you mind sharing who those companies are so I could pass them along? It seems to be very competitive!

Thanks :)

bruno_maag's picture

Dalton Maag does take interns, and we usually require people to stay between two to three months. All our work experiences are unpaid. Will's assertion about minimum wage is correct in as far as it depends what the intern does. If the intern is actively involved in the company's business, then minimum wage applies. However if it's a 'voluntary work experience' or 'study period' where the intern does not productively contribute to the business the M-W does not apply.

Our interns are not involved in our day-to-day business but work on their own projects. Depending on their experience they may have to start off painting letters using brushes and b/w gouache paint to learn to see before we let them near any digital equipment. Once in Fontlab they learn the basics of the program and expand their design to the full Latin alphabet. Throughout this process the intern benefits from our team's experience and access to resources (computer, printer, internet etc). If the intern is talented, and we do ask him/her to contribute, the work is paid. Simple.

And before anyone asks, we have no spaces until January 2013.

Bruno Maag

Bendy's picture

Hi Steve, well I don't feel here is the place to be posting that sort of detail about companies. When I was looking, it was just a case of Googling publishing and design places in Brighton and sending in my CV speculatively with a link to my online portfolio. And networking, I went to several freelance/creative-related events and noted people's names to Google later.

Bruno, that's good to know. I certainly view my current internship as a learning experience rather than a job.

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