Forget the Coffee, Open Auto CAD!

One of the most important parts of design education is the opportunity to get hands-on experience working with professional design. Bridgette Aliberti, a student at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design, set sights high by contacting one of the best—Morgan Design Associates.

Although new interns are often pegged as coffee-getters, paper-filers, and copy-makers, Aliberti sure doesn’t fit that description. When she began her work at Morgan Design Associates, she was given the title of “designer” as opposed to “intern,” giving her the rare opportunity to work side-by-side with William Morgan himself. For the next three months, she played a key role in designing a prototype “store of the future” for a national retail chain, which will be presented and considered for commission this fall.

This extraordinary opportunity didn’t only please Aliberti. Dean of Design + Applied Arts and Chair of the Interior Design Department, Lauren Pillote expressed how thrilled she was with Aliberti’s internship. “This level of involvement in a project is rare and allows young designers to experience their future professions from a perspective that cannot be reproduced in the classroom,” she says. More importantly, William Morgan was incredibly impressed with Aliberti’s contribution to the project, commending her for her computer skills, knowledge of AutoCAD, and her design aesthetic.

Coming from a design student’s point of view, Aliberti’s internship is a dream come true. As Dean Pillote explains, there are some things that a student cannot experience in a classroom. Working so closely with a design professional on a major project is an invaluable opportunity.

What types of internships does your firm offer? How much responsibility are you willing to give a design student in the name of education?

–Zoe Namerow


  1. Wow, what a great story! It's fantastic that Bridgette had such a valuable experience at Morgan Design Associates.

    Here at SmithGroup, we try and do the same – rather than inviting them to warm a chair, we include our interns on project teams and listen to their ideas, since we understand how valuable their contributions are. Depending on the stage of the project when they arrive, they might contribute to the design, participate in a charette, attend a client meeting or visit a construction site – and sometimes all of the above! We treat them like employees, not like students who are temporarily helping out. Not only will they get more out of it by actually doing things, but we get to learn from them in so many ways over the course of their internships. The day in May when our interns arrive is always a happy one in our offices!