Work Experience, Networking & Freelancing in Interior Design


Unpaid internships should be for no longer than four weeks.  The company should provide you with a meaningful training programme designed to help improve both your sector specific and generic employability skills. An experienced member of staff should be nominated to act as your mentor for the duration of your time with the company. Travel expenses should be reimbursed and flexible working hours should be on offer. 

Paid internships normally refer to placements of more than four weeks. However, a paid internship also applies if you are required by your employer to work specified hours or undertake specific duties. You can expect to receive a salary equal to or more than the national minimum wage of £6.70 per hour for employees over the age of 21 years.

The UniHub vacancy database is a good place to start looking for internships, but the suggested links also provide sources of available internships.


Volunteering looks great on a CV and is something that employers value highly. It can provide you with opportunities to improve and develop your professional and interpersonal skills, and is something you can do locally, elsewhere in the country or abroad. 

Hallam Volunteering offers a wide range of excellent relevant projects for you to get involved in whilst you are studying for your degree. If you have your own idea for a volunteer activity, why not contact the volunteering team to discuss how they can support you. These experiences will provide you with a wealth of evidence to refer to in your CVs /job applications.

Visit our Volunteering page for more information.

Work shadow / work experience

These are excellent ways to establish contacts in your chosen field. Successful work placements can often lead to offers of work at a later date or generate leads to other opportunities through the valuable contacts made whilst on work placement. Try to use your holiday periods and free time during term times to exploit these opportunities. Use the directories listed under Suggested Links to help source relevant interior design companies.


You have the option to take a sandwich year as part of your course, which gives you the opportunity of applying your learning, developing new and existing skills and increasing your knowledge and experience while immersed in the fashion industry. Your Placement team will you with information about the process of applying for placements with useful information through their Wordpress site and current vacancies via the Placement Portal. You are also recommended to use the specialist links via Finding and Applying for Jobs in Interior Design to source vacancies.  


Getting involved in regional, national and international competitions is another excellent way of ensuring that your work is regularly viewed by the wider art community. Relevant competitions include New Designers and FX Design Awards.

Freelance and self-employment

It is extremely common for people working in the creative sector to be self-employed either full-time or on a part-time basis whilst combining it with employed work; the latter is known as a portfolio career. Designers tend to be independent, creative thinkers and are often self-employed and/or in occupations involving project work and short-term contracts with both small and large organisations. The website Young Creative Council allows individuals (including students) to register for freelance work. 

Being self-employed makes it essential that you network and promote your work (and yourself) as much as possible. 

If you would like to find out more on how to advance your project then why not contact the Enterprise Team who provide lots of free professional advice on a range of topics including writing a business plan and where to find start-up grants. This facility is available to students up to five years after graduation.

NESTA is a UK innovation foundation. It helps individuals and organisations develop ideas through. 

There is further information available on the AN, Own-It and Artquest websites.

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers (Alison Branagan) provides useful practical advice for artists and designers wanting to create their own freelance businesses.

Last modified: 
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 10:52