MIAD’s Design Internship prepares students for professional fields

Milwaukee boasts a vibrant community of artists and creatives. The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) is proud to bolster this community through the Design Internship, a program for Milwaukee-area high school students intended to prepare them for careers in art and design.

The Design Internship arose through MIAD’s partnership with Hanson Dodge and a shared interest in addressing the lack of diversity in Milwaukee’s creative fields. Through the nonprofit organization Greater Together Milwaukee, the internship became a vehicle to develop a formal program intended to bring 1,600 designers of color into the Milwaukee creative industry by 2030. MIAD’s Design Internship continues to give special consideration to students of color who apply in furtherance of this goal. “We have been able to show students that they are welcome and wanted in this industry by connecting them with local design firms,” says Maeve Morris, Youth + Community Outreach Coordinator at MIAD.

“Our partners’ commitment to addressing the lack of diversity in Milwaukee’s creative industry has made this program possible and is directly impacting the lives of our youth,” says Director of Youth and Community Programs Corbett Toomsen. Since its inception in 2021, program capacity has tripled and applications have quadrupled. Originally supporting 14 interns at Hanson Dodge selected from 25 applicants, the Design Internship now supports 45 interns at eight different locations, selected from nearly 100 applications. “The program has grown because of the engagement we’ve seen from the youth who are excited to participate and take initiative of their future. These are amazing young people,” says Toomsen.

Students selected for the free, year-long Design Internship program are placed in a paid summer internship at one of eight local design or architecture firms. They also have tuition-free access to MIAD’s Summer and Weekend Pre-College programs.

“We have had all of our partners return to the program each year, which is also something we are very proud of, as it shows that our partners see and feel the value of the program,” continues Morris. In 2023, MIAD will place student interns at Core Creative, Cramer-Krasselt, Engberg Anderson Architects, Hanson Dodge, HGA, Maker LLC, Plunkett Raysich Architects and Rinka+. “This program enriches MIAD’s partners and the surrounding community by reaching students interested in creative industries at a young age and teaching them that a career in the arts is a viable profession,” says Morris.

MIAD’s Design Internship has gained recognition and support nationally. In January 2023, the program was approved for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for its 2023-2024 iteration. Toomsen appreciates the support from the NEA, which will allow MIAD to come closer to funding goals like fully covering the cost of paid internships. “This will further incentivize new partners to join the program. With more partners, we are able to accept and place more interns that apply for the opportunity,” he says.

Connecting students with design leaders, forging meaningful relationships and building pathways into design are key components of MIAD’s Design Internship. “Our aim is not to recruit high school students to any institution or area specifically,” says Morris, “but rather to increase engagement with art and design as a career path.”

Learn more about MIAD’s Design Internship here!