What is the Design Action Program about?
The Design Action Program integrates external design activity within the Industrial Design coursework by offering two types of design activity – internship and work experience.
RMIT Industrial Design staff recognizes that great relationships with committed host-partners are crucial to deepening our students’ learning and experience. We have more than 60 years of experience in listening to and working with successful organisations. We know that engendering creative design-thinking, business know-how, and the right technical capability in our young designers is essential for the sustained growth of organisations grappling with complex new-world dynamics.
The Design Action Program has the flexibility needed so that talented young designers and design students can meet your real business, research, and manufacturing needs, and potentially, short-term skill needs. Consider developing ways to integrate designers on internship, placement, or work experience into your organisational plan, or discuss developing a funded collaborative-research project with the DAP Coordinator. For experienced design-practitioners, the program offers the chance to mentor new talent, which can be mutually satisfying for both the practitioner and the student.
- Conduct design-led research, or product and service development with a recent graduate designer
- The DAP Coordinator and staff will match your project’s particular complexities to our recent graduates for a mutually beneficial collaboration
- Where needed our staff will coordinate with other RMIT schools and disciplines to provide a team of interns to deliver the required capability mix
- An internship project may start at any time during the year, and will require a financial contribution to the design graduate
- The DAP Coordinator will work with host organisations on client led industry projects that require design capabilities and have Government funding options available. Projects under 12 weeks in length may be eligible (see the Innovation and Technology Voucher Programs, under RESOURCES)
Practicum Work Experience
- Host design students who have a good design foundation and are enthusiastic about gaining real design-related work experience of 70-80 hours, for their professional development
- Host organisations who wish to offer an opportunity can advertise through RMIT Careers, or register it with the DAP Coordinator, who will match it to an appropriate student (see How do you initiate?)
- If you have already been approached by a student, the DAP Coordinator will advise you how to proceed
- Practicum Work Experience must be structured where possible to meet minimum course requirements (such as minimum contact hours) and be undertaken during semester
- Due to visa conditions, international students are limited to a combined total of 40 hours per fortnight for their placement and any employment being undertaken elsewhere
What can host organisations gain from this experience?
A snapshot of what our host partners say:
- Creates tangible design outcomes including new intellectual property and injects new knowledge and fresh ideas that we can use
- Enhances our profile as a forward-thinking member of the design and business community
- Addresses our research and development issues in a way which develops our reputation and sharpens our competitive edge
- Meets our short-term design or technical skill needs in an affordable way.
- Our staff get updated technical skills as part of the skill exchange
- We get the opportunity to work with and mentor new talent, to see who is a good fit with our organisational culture and values
- Helps our staff develop skills in mentoring and fostering career aspirations and professional development.
How do you become a Host?
Step 1: Find a student or graduate to suit your project
If you have a possible project opportunity, contact the DAP Coordinator to discuss what you are offering, and complete an online Expression of Interest form to be listed in the DAP database.
Depending upon your needs, the Coordinator will suggest an approach to finding a suitable student or recent graduate. For example, you can advertise the project opportunity through RMIT Careers, an online job listing allowing for easy electronic distribution.
Step 2: Negotiate the design activity with the DAP Coordinator
It is particularly important to determine whether the opportunity you offer is best suited to a graduate internship, a student placement, or a student work experience.
Work experience and placements – design activities offered to current students rather than recent graduates – need to be design-based activities in order to be accredited. If offering such activities, your preparation will need to include planning that course learning-goals can be met.
Step 3: Formalise the arrangement by signing an agreement with the student
RMIT provides standard agreements (and schedules) for paid and unpaid design activity (see RESOURCES).
The agreements cover such practical matters as insurance, intellectual property and confidentiality, and professional ethics and workplace rights. The formal signing may also provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify mutual expectations. Each party to the agreement (the student, RMIT Industrial Design, and yourself) should retain a signed copy.
What makes for a quality host?
Step 1: Induct the student or graduate into your workplace
Brief the student about the organisation, its history, structure, culture and values. Explain your expectations in relation to start and finish times, dress code, professional conduct and confidentiality, and what the work will involve.
Step 2: Allow for regular progress meetings
Meeting with the student provides opportunities to discuss how theory and practice come together in your workplace; and also to share constructive feedback on how the student has performed their work. Encouraging the student to offer feedback is an opportunity to receive fresh ideas and observations that may be of use in the workplace. For some Design Action projects, the Coordinator may be involved at least once in scheduled meetings between host and student.
Step 3: Hold a final debriefing
This is to sum up what has been learned and to provide an evaluation of the student’s work.
Step 4: Share your experience
Take the opportunity to share your experience as a host with your colleagues, RMIT Alumni, business networks, and the design community.
Place a brief account on your website, or allow RMIT to share your insights on the RMIT website.
Participate in the Design Action Program bi-annual forum to share the experience with students and other hosts.