Criteria for Internships/First Jobs

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Career / Internships

Criteria for Opportunities

  • It offers a variety of work experiences, if that is what you are looking for.
    Smaller studios will be looking for people willing to do many things, so keep that in mind.
  • It offers the opportunity to dive deeply into a subject, if that is what you are looking for.
    Larger studios will slot you into a team where you may not get to do a lot of different stuff, but you will get to have lots of specific experience in one or two things.
  • There are great people with whom you can network and connect.
    This is the true benefit of these early experiences: the network you build, the sources you cultivate, and the source you become to others. This is your community. Develop into the citizen you aspire to be and it will absolutely take care of you.

Once you are there, here are some ways to tell if you want to stay:

  • It is fulfilling.
    You are not just there to get coffee, you are an acolyte of a large and world-changing discipline, worthy of respect and cultivation.
  • It is challenging.
    You deserve to be challenged, not just handed the crap work.
  • It leads you to a deeper understanding of what you want (or don’t want) to do with your next five years.
    Have some perspective–start plotting out a course for the next five years, concentrating on a general trajectory without getting too bunged up in details.
  • The culture of the organization is nurturing, meaning you will get useful feedback on your efforts, not just be treated as an indentured servant.

Bad reasons to pursue a certain internship/job:

  • It’s with a big name designer or studio (i.e. the “name-whore syndrome”)
    If this is the only reason, this is not great. It leaves you open to being exploited by someone who may be a luminary (or once was) but who is also going to exploit you.
  • You didn’t find anything else.
    This happens, but just stay open to finding other opportunities if the one you ended up with is crap. You can quit an internship without too much damage to your rep, just do not use them as references or even leave it off your resume.
  • You want to make massive amounts of money.
    My socialist roots are showing, I know. If you are only in it for the money, I think you will end up terribly unhappy. I speak from experience–the pull of the market often does not lead towards true innovation or admirable work. It leads to what sells that is cheap to produce. The corners that end up being cut are often little tee-tiny parts of your soul and they add up pretty darn fast.

Beware of the following

  • “Startup” can be code for “no money, no business, no nothing.”
    Be very careful when being offered work or opportunities from startups. I have nothing against small business, but honestly, these sorts of gigs are by and large a crap shoot: if they have no money now, they probably will never pay you. If you still feel like taking part, get the agreement, goals, deliverables and compensation plans all in writing. You could ask for shares or such, but just know that this is a gamble. Of course, there is the cautionary tale of the Nike logo(sorry for the poor quality of the article behind that link)
  • “This may lead to a full-time position.”
    Be very suspicious as this is an empty promise, chumming you into giving way more than they can ever pay you for. If there is the potential of further employment, the terms for that being a possibility must be in writing at the start: when will they reevaluate you? How will they determine your worthiness? If they cannot give you a contract with these items spelled out, keep looking.
  • “No pay, but this will look great in your portfolio.”
    No. Keep looking for studios who can offer you portfolio-worthy opportunities and a paycheck. What you do is worth money. Your skills and abilities are worthy of pay and these people cannot do what they want nearly as well without you. They need to offer fair compensation. This line is literally telling you that your time is worth nothing now, but may be to someone else later on. No!
  • “$15/hour”
    No. I pay my babysitter that. Yes, she is marvelous and yes, she is taking care of my lovely child. However, you have advanced technical and aesthetic skills (and soon a degree) from a great school. You deserve to be paid more than this.

Here is a list of places to start looking.

This is a search of NYC using the Internmatch site.


This is an okay resource, but consider the source: it’s free and so is attractive to smaller places with less of a budget. Nevertheless, you can look here, just choose your area, then “art/media/design jobs” as the area, then search within those results for internships.

Brooklyn Tech Triangle

Don’t limit your search to Manhattan: Brooklyn’s DUMBO area is one of the hottest tech areas out there, with loads of small and rising studios doing great work. I teach really close by, so if you get an interview, maybe we can meet up for coffee before or after to talk about the experience.

New York Foundation of the Arts

Working for non-profits can still be paid, as can positions for arts organizations. It’s a great way to combine your interests in design and art in a way that pays rent.

AIGA Job Board

This is a great resource as it is a service that the employer must pay for, but everyone looks at it.

Designer News

Join this and read the feed! There is a great job board as well.

This is a service that offers free and paid levels of service. Try it out for free first and let me know what you think. I do not know it well.

Once again, this is a service my students have used in the past. Try it out and tell me what you think.

Class Eleven

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Class Notes

Homework due today:

The homepage of your secondary piece: be it on phone or full-sized screen, have your homepage rendered.


Short Crit of Secondary Pieces:

We need to compare and contrast the work you have done and troubleshoot and go over successes!

Looking at the secondary versions:

Beginning to weave your pieces together into a pitch:

  • Going through the artifacts
  • Designing an approach
  • Storyboarding the pitch
  • Spotting gaps or bottlenecks in your narrative


Begin working on your final presentation. Next week I want to see your outline, or your rough draft of your slideshow. These can be rough, but I want to start seeing it develop as the last weeks of class progress. Also, continue on your sketches.

You will be expected to present a slideshow which you can compose in InDesign, Keynote, Google Docs Slides, or god forbid, PowerPoint. The final presentation will be on the last day of class, and you will have up to 10 minutes each to present. Minimum of 5 minutes.

Here are some videos you need to watch:

Here are some things to think about:

Designers are increasingly being seen as part of the strategy team. When I started in the industry, we were held off in the background, brought in at the end to make whatever had been decided upon pretty. This usually resulted in a lot of lipstick on pigs: the sites were poorly structured and terribly conceived from a usability standpoint. Now, we get to help at every stage, and this is a very good thing for you if you are willing to be articulate and proactive. You can rise much faster in a company structure than before. Of course, we will talk about priorities and such because not everyone is gunning for a corner office. Success is defined many, many different ways.

When you present your idea, you will need to have the following details covered:

  1. Your elevator pitch: the one sentence wrap up of what your idea/site/product can do and for whom. I always start with this, just to make sure everyone knows where we are going
  2. Your conclusion from your competitive analysis: remember the initial research you did? Have some key examples ready to back up your claims. Show why your idea will solve a problem better than what is out there, prove it.
  3. Illustrate your knowledge of the target audience: tell a little bit about what you know about who you are trying to serve. Show respect and compassion.
  4. Walk through your sketches, being sure to highlight features or moments where you really serve the audience/user group well. You can talk about any surprises or challenges you encountered here.
  5. Wrap up: tell us how your solution solves the issue at hand. Once again, remind us of the elevator pitch and tie the whole presentation up as a lovely, resolved narrative.


Class Ten

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Class Notes


Go over pages designed so far
We need to start discussing how to proceed into the landing pages or phone versions of your sites.

Intro to HTML and CSS, continued:

Here is the code for the responsive demo. We will take a look at it today and start walking through what is what. Here are some handouts: HTML and CSS.

Meta Moment:

Portfolios you can build your early career upon.

1  |  2


Start on the second version of your site. You only need the home page or initial view of this second version.

Class Nine

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Class Notes


Intro to HTML and CSS:

Here is the code for the responsive demo. We will take a look at it today and start walking through what is what. Here are some handouts: HTML and CSS.

Small Group Crit:

Discuss screens and user paths so far, start sussing out the details on your secondary presence.

Meta Moment

Asking for Rec Letters


Finish the major screens for your main presence and be ready for a crit next week!

Class Eight

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Class Notes


Refine your sketches you have done so far to accommodate the edits we go over today. Try to get a few more


Intro to HTML and CSS:

Here is the code for the responsive demo. We will take a look at it today and start walking through what is what. Here are some handouts: HTML and CSS.

Some nice things to have:

Assets you may find useful:

Cursors  | Samples of Web Form Assets

Animated Gifs

We will be doing a quick demo that will show you exactly how much fun these are. Awesome!

Download this file and prepare to have a blast!

Contact Forms

We need to cover some basics of form construction. Here are some examples:  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

Just remember, you have immense control over styling, Make the form work as a part of the brand message as this is an interaction between you and your user. Make it useful, simple, and inviting.


Refine the pages for your main presence.

My Parsons work day:

November 2, 2015 10:30-2pm

Class Six / Seven

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Class Notes

Homework due today

Refine your homepage and develop your next level page/scroll down. Be ready to meet with me next week for a small spot check-in.


Today we have our first critique! Send me your jpeg of your homepage as soon as you can.

Each person will get 5 minutes:

  • Tell us about your project with one pithy sentence (the elevator pitch).
  • Describe your target audience with one sentence as well.
  • Walk us through what you are trying to do briefly:
    • No need to explain mistakes
    • No need to make excuses, let us tell you what we see and what you are doing well
  • We will  give suggestions about how you can do things better, or other solutions you might try.


Here are some working files I found to share with you. Please note: you need to install Lato to see them working properly.

Intro to HTML and CSS:

Here is the code for the responsive demo. We will take a look at it today and start walking through what is what. Here are some handouts: HTML and CSS.

Web Typography and iconography

Functionality and behaviors:


Refine your sketches you have done so far to accommodate the edits we go over today.

Class Four/Five

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Class Notes

Class Plan

I need to talk to each of your today, so I will do a little lecturing, then we will work. I promise that we will do the following throughout today’s class:

  • Go back over IA, make sure everybody has a good grasp to proceed.
  • Lab time: work on site maps, wireframes
  • Lecture: visual design! At last! See notes below.
  • Sketch out rough draft with pencil/pen on paper.

Overall, I need to get through this material to help you get started with your sketches:


Begin translating your sketch into PS. Next week, we will really dig in and solve issues you may encounter this week. Keep your PS file organized for your own sanity. We will have a class-wide critique soon, so you need to really lay down some ideas. Do not go with your first sketch, be sure to play for a few hours, then settle in on a direction.

Class Three

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Class Notes


Today, we will take all the thinking you have done and start figuring out how this site of yours will work.

  • Look over the projects you are proposing so far
  • Card sort
  • Information Architecture
    • Sitemap
    • Wireframes
  • Color: Psychology and Choice
  • Lab time



  • Create your sitemap for your entire site and wire frames of your homepages using any of the following: Illustrator or Indesign. Send these to me as pdfs by next Wednesday so I can try to get commentary to you before class.
  • Pinpoint your color scheme using any of these tools:
    • Color Scheme Designer 3
    • Kuler
    • Think about the effect you want the colors to have on your viewer, what you want it to teach them about your intent.

Card Sorting

Basically, you need to decide how you will section up your content into separate pages. The best way I do this is to do a card sort.

In web design, you want each page to be a bucket for information about the selected topic ONLY. Use links to guide the user to other related material. You want your copy to be clear and concise: no one likes to dig through loads of badly organized copy for what they seek.

Look at the site you want to build and think of your targeted user:

  1. What information does she need first? Second? Third? And so on. This helps you determine what the pages should be
  2. Write out the name of each page on a card.
  3. Place the cards on your desk in the order you think they need to go. Write this down, as this may very well be your primary navigation.
  4. Mix the cards up and turn to a fellow student. Explain your site’s purpose, the target audience, and any other variables at play.
  5. Give the cards to your fellow student and let him come up with a potential navigational scheme.
  6. Talk out any differences with him, and adjust your proposed nav to reflect the thinking.

Sitemaps and Wireframes (Information Architecture)

First of all, let’s define the term Information Architecture or IA:

An IA is the structure of a system. It is the model produced when a website’s content and functionality are organized so users can easily access everything in the final site. Its main purpose is to optimize the user experience, meaning anyone visiting your site will be able to intuitively navigate to the information for which she is looking.

Your website, however small and simple, is actually a system for delivering information and facilitating task completion to an inquisitive public. The more carefully you structure your site’s navigation, the better and more quickly it will deliver content. There’s nothing more frustrating to a web user that a confusing or misleading navigation.

If you take the time to create an IA for your site, you will know what content you need, how the user will be guided, and how the site will be structured. This is hugely helpful information to have before you start designing.

A Word About User Experience

The web development process should be user-centered from start to finish, no matter which step you are on. In the early days of the internet, design tended to be about the designer, and what he could imagine was cool or new. Now we know that unless the user finds the experience useful, compelling, and satisfying, she will simply leave the site probably never to return. This means that even if the interface is beautiful, a site is a failure if its information architecture is garbled, or its coding is subpar.

Also, if you are working for a client, never forget to keep his objectives in mind.

“As user experience designers we have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the business goals, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand.”
Whitney Hess

Creating an Effective Information Architecture

You need to take the following into account:

  • Your end objectives
  • The constraints you have to deal with
  • The content you have or will generate
  • The requirements for the people who will visit your site (this depends on who your target audience is).


Once you have taken note of the way things and tending to be grouped, create a sitemap. A sitemap is a high-level chart where each topic (or page) is represented by a box, and the basic relationships between pages is drawn in a simple manner. Take the time to draw a couple of sitemaps and get it right.



Once you have established the overarching relationships between content areas, it’s time to go in and create detailed wireframes of each individual page type. Wireframes are simple, unembellished diagrams of the page structure. They help you figure out how each element on the page relates to the others, and provide invaluable insight on how the page should look and function.

Color Theory

I know, I know, I have said I can’t tolerate this woman’s voice, but she has produced some great and helpful videos. Alas.

Some great readings on the subject: