DFA is excited to announce that applications for Summer 2017 internship positions at DFA National are now open! The future will be built by leaders that use empathetic understanding and bold action. We are seeking three exceptional DFAers to help execute Design for America’s vision with our award winning design, leadership, and social impact trainings. Interns will practice human-centered design at the organization level, gain experience in planning national design-education programs, and have the chance to grow their DFAmily network.

Two interns will support DFA National Leadership Studio, the flagship five-day conference that brings together over 100 DFA student leaders from 36+ campuses to learn and practice the design innovation process and build leadership skills. One intern will run and support expansion of DFA Northwestern’s Summer Studio program; strong preference will be given to candidates from Northwestern University for the Summer Studio position.

See what our 2016 Summer Intern and DFA Wash U Studio Lead, Kelly Wisneski, had to say about her experience:

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really know what DFA National did before working there this summer. Do they just sit there writing on post-its all day? (Pretty much.) Are they just gossiping about the studios? (Only in hushed tones.) Does Stacy really look that flawless every day? (Every. Single. Day.) Does Rob fall asleep at night rehearsing his design process feedback? (Oh most definitely.)

Okay so it’s a little more than that. National does a ton of important things — advising studios and connecting them to one another, organizing sponsored projects, hosting Leadership studio, and telling a bunch of important people with money and power how cool y’all (the DFA studios) are. Just to name a few.

If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, just hold on a sec. Rebecca, Stacy, Rob, Michelle, and Deniz show up to work everyday asking not “what do I have to get done?” but “how can I make a positive impact today?” and it was amazing to be part of for a summer. Gaining experience in that kind of work environment was valuable beyond words, but I’m going to try anyway:

I learned the true meaning of iteration.

Believe me, I had worked through iteration through architecture and freelancing and in my DFA studio before, but nothing like this. I recently took out all of my work this summer to photograph for my portfolio (another plus: portfolio builder!), and I honest to god had 15 different versions of the Leadership Studio bookmark, and that was only what I had kept from the office. You redesign and redesign and redesign and learn that it’s never too late to go back to square one, if that’s what’s best for the user.

Being a guinea pig is the best!

I showed up on Day 1, and almost immediately started providing feedback. I was the only person in the room that was currently in a DFA studio, so in a way, I got to represent the entire network of DFA students for the summer. It made me think critically about my own studio, and realize how valuable and impactful my feedback could be to the National team. And then at the end of the summer I got to go back to my studio with a broader vision of DFA plus some little secrets.

I learned how to defend my own process.

Seriously, having to defend my ideas and decisions to Rebecca early in the summer made me figure out my process real quick (and I think I gained about 5 years experience in 30 minutes).

I was able to define my own impact and how to build my skill set.

I have a background in graphic design, so I was able to focus my attention on some amazing branding projects throughout the summer. No matter your background, you’ll be able to work on projects that you’ll be proud of at the end of the summer.

I learned how to apply the HCD process on an organizational level.

National treats DFA like its own design project. It’s just as interdisciplinary, just as empathetic, just as iterative, and just as eye-opening as your best DFA project, and the impact is on a National level. It’s management and consulting and UX/UI and graphic design and strategic planning. I was able to bring all of these skills back to my studio for my final semester of being President with such a clear sense of vision and confidence that I honestly don’t think I could have gained anywhere else.



And if all of THAT doesn’t sound exciting, here’s a last ditch effort:

  • You get to slack people weird emojis when they’re sitting right next to you.
  • You get to make friends with not ONE but TWO sets of DFA Fellows.
  • You get to work a 30 minute train ride away from the greatest city in the world.
  • You get to make bonfires on a private beach.
  • You get to eat all of the Leadership Studio snacks.
  • You get to act official in front of your friends at Leadership Studio.
  • You get to laugh at Rob all summer, which is literally the only source of entertainment you’ll ever need.

My summer with DFA National gave me a sense of vision, a feeling of empowerment, an awesome portfolio piece, and an unparalleled group of friends and mentors. Go apply now!!


We have multiple openings for the position Kelly described that are focused on supporting DFA’s National Leadership Studio. See description details and directions on how to apply HERE

We also have one opening for DFA Summer Studio Lead. See description details and directions on how to apply HERE

Application deadline is February 15 for all openings.