At ID we strongly believe that students need practical experience in real-world design work to gain professional insight and acquire skills outside of the classroom.

ID externships enable Master of Design (MDes) students in their last two semesters to gain mentorship and experience in a wide variety of design practice areas in exchange for academic credit. Past sponsoring organizations include Far Eastern Group, Rush University, Steelcase, and the UIC Institute for Healthcare Delivery Design.

Thus far externships have been mostly remote and hence are not bound to Chicago.


Externships are offered in the Fall and Spring semesters as well as the Summer session.

Information for sponsoring organizations

  • Students will work 16 hours (2 days) a week at their fieldwork placement for a minimum total of 224 hours.
  • Organizations must provide the following, otherwise, the work experience will be on such terms as independently agreed to by the extern and the business (including any potential stipend):
    • An orientation, including a discussion of office procedures, confidentiality and other obligations, an overview of the work, the expectations for the extern, and a discussion of the extern’s professional and personal goals.
    • A primary supervisor: The extern will have a primary supervisor who is a design professional employed at the placement site. In the event of the supervisor’s extended absence, another supervisor will be assigned.
    • A designated workspace: The extern will have a workplace in the same location as the supervisor and access to the tools and support needed to complete assignments. Remote arrangements are possible.
    • Skills development: The extern will be engaged in a substantial design experience that includes multiple opportunities for performance, feedback, and self-evaluation.
    • Assignments: The expectation is that the extern will be assigned work that is similar to that of a graduate level entry-level design professional with the aim of achieving exposure to a broad range of strategic design skills (e.g., analysis, application of behavioral economics principles, design planning, design research, literature review, opportunity development, presentation, project planning, prototyping, synthesis, visual communication).

Information for students

Program structure

The 4-credit-hour Pass/Fail program consists of two separate components:

  1. Fieldwork
    During the Fall 2021 semester, students must work 16 hours a week at their fieldwork placement for a minimum total of 224 hours. In addition, externs maintain weekly activity and time reports as well as journals based on their fieldwork experience.
  2. Class
    Scheduled classes will focus on different practice areas and the often complex and unpredictable realities at the core of design practice and leadership. Faculty lead is Denis Weil.
  • You must be in good academic standing: 3.0 GPA minimum.
  • You cannot simultaneously volunteer/work for pay in another legal position during the term of the semester.
  • You cannot withdraw after you have accepted an offer to extern. It is unprofessional and unacceptable to decline to honor your commitment.
  • You may do only one semester of externship and you cannot extern at a previous employer. Exception is granted for the work in the public sector, where you may continue for a second semester with the timely approval of your current supervisor and faculty member.
  • For International students: You must have been in lawful full-time F-1 status for at least one academic year (consecutive fall/spring terms) at Illinois Tech.
  • For Dual-degree students: Dual degree students may take on an externship during the summer but need to get special permission for Fall or Spring semester as they already have lower design course credits during these times. Please contact the faculty lead.
How to Obtain a Design Externship Placement

A student must apply to participate in and register for an offered externship. Each placement is independent and external to ID; with each organization having its own independent selection and screening process.

Students should consider ID-approved positions (list for Fall 2021 coming soon) and/or find their own placement.


If you have any questions or concerns, contact faculty lead Denis Weil.


Hire an Extern

Fall 2021: August 13, 2021