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Apply for a Summer 2020 Design Immersion

About Design Immersions

Design Immersions are an applied learning opportunity to connect Smithies with organizations and institutions across the country and around the world who leverage design practices and methods for advancing socially, economically, and environmentally healthy communities.

Design Immersions are 12 week fully funded summer internships.

We welcome applications from First-year—Junior year students. Seniors need not apply.


There are no prerequisites for applying beyond drive and passion. If granted an Immersion, students are required to take IDP 316: Critical Design Thinking Studio in the spring and commit to a co-curricular cohort experience that is designed to prepare students for the Immersion experience.

Summer 2020 Opportunities

Below are a handful of the organizations we already have confirmed, however, additional opportunities can be explored or may arise. If you don’t see something you’re dying to do here, but are interested in the Design Immersion please apply anyway and tell us about what you’re most interested in.

Isla Urbana
Mexico City, Mexico

How would you like to support a dynamic young team of designers, engineers, and community outreach organizers in empowering households across communities in Mexico whom do not have access to clean safe drinking water with a self-sufficient solution for harvesting rainwater?

Seeking self-directed motivated folks who care about environmental justice and are interested in engineering, product development, communications, and social innovation.

Studio José de la O
Mexico City, Mexico

What if you could be part of a small multidisciplinary design agency working in the space between graphic design, product design, research and experimentation specializing in innovations that benefit society?

Seeking self proclaimed design nerds preferably with Adobe or Rhino skills or at least a passion for problem solving with a willingness to jump in and teach yourself what needs to be learned.

Latin American Leadership Academy
Medellín, Colombia

Imagine joining a team whose mission is to promote sustainable economic development and strengthen democratic governance in Latin America by developing and connecting the next generation of principled and socially innovative leaders?

Seeking independent and self-motivated students who are passionate about leadership, education, and the future of Latin America.

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics
Nairobi, Kenya

How cool would it be to join a team of psychologists, anthropologists, economists, health specialists, data scientists and more to lead research for clients across the Global South in understanding human behavior and designing for change?

Seeking curious researchers who have a passion in behavioral economics, communication, or human-centered design.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Can you imagine joining a team of entrepreneurs and engineers working passionately towards the mission of providing high quality, affordable, and sustainable roofing solutions to shelter communities in the developing world?

Seeking adventurous engineers or folks interested in product design/development or industrial design with hands-on prototyping skills.

Hartford, Connecticut

Want to understand what it takes to construct organizations identities with integrity, join this team of designers and thinkers advancing brands that are human-centered and purpose-driven by asking bigger questions and connecting with people in meaningful ways?

Seeking whip smart socially engaged students, interested in art, communications, graphic design, and/or social entrepreneurship.

itdUPM (Center of Innovation and Technology for Development Centre)
Madrid, Spain

Curious about how an interdisciplinary program within Madrid’s world-renowned technical university, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, is helping the city deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals by bringing together NGO, business, academic, and civic leaders?

Seeking self-directed driven students interested in education and the nexus of sustainability, social innovation, government, and community-engaged leadership..

CORCLIMA (the Commision towards Resilience to Climate Change in Monteverde)
MonteVerde, Costa Rica

Passionate about being part of Climate Change solutions led by local communities and working with folks to be a model for the rest of the world by reducing emissions, capturing carbon, and creating strategies for adapting quickly to environmental changes?

Seeking fiercely independent workers and Spanish speaking extroverts who aren’t afraid to tromp respectfully through very damp forests to engage with grassroots efforts to make change.

Asuncion, Paraguay

Have you benefited from meaningful college or career advisement or been impacted by designing your life strategies and can see yourself sharing that back in an international context aimed at promoting mutual understanding between the US and Paraguay in this case?

Seeking students who find purpose in helping open up educational opportunities for young people and who are passionate about cultural exchange and pathway design.

Secretaria Técnica de Planificación del Desarrollo Economico y Social (Secretary of Technical Planning of Social and Economic Development)
Asuncion, Paraguay

Ever wonder what it would be like to work on social innovation from within a government agency charged with coordinating the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of sustainable development through an inclusive approach?

SSeeking Spanish speakers who are passionate about social innovation, international relations, government, equity and inclusion, and engaged leadership.

How to Apply

This is a three-phased application process.
Please Note: Upon being accepted to Design Immersions students will be required to fill-out a custom Praxis Plus application. Students who have already received Praxis funding are still eligible for a fully funded Immersion experience.  

Phase One: Application

Application is due by midnight on 9/29.

Please be sure to submit all of the following information via email to Subject: "Design Immersion 2020"

  1. Application
    Please complete the online application form.
  2. Your Résumé
    Please submit a one page résumé of all relevant experiences, academic and beyond.
  3. Make a 2-4 Minute Video
    Please create and share a link to a video that speaks to and/or shows us:
  • What you are passionate about and why.
  • What kind of change you want to see in this world.
  • What excites you about the design immersion program.
  • What your goals for an immersion are.
  • What makes you a good candidate for the immersion of your choice.
  • What experience and learnings you have from working as part of a team.
  • What has best prepared you for living in a new city on your own.
  1. Something ‘Made’
    Do you make gourmet popcorn, fashion your own scarves, give great haircuts, embellish your own wardrobe, paint fab nails, work on bikes, craft gifts for loved ones, construct your own furnishings, make drawings, sculpt stuff, build robots, choreograph your own dance routines, engineer contraptions, program your own snapchat filters, knit sweaters for hairless cats, curate playlists for every occasion, fix your own shoes, or bake crazy confections?
    Making can mean many things, please show us something you ‘make’ or have ‘made’ that represents something we might not otherwise know about your passions, personality, or life experience.

Phase Two: Group Interview

Phase 1 finalists will be invited for an hour-long group exercise the week of October 7th where peers, faculty, and staff will observe and evaluate how candidates navigate group dynamics. Small teams will be given a quick and dirty design thinking prompt to get them working through a problem together rapidly, it should actually be pretty fun!

Phase Three: 1:1 Interview

Finalists will be invited for a 45-minute in-person interview with the Design Thinking Initiative team the week of October 14th. Selected Immersion candidates will be contacted the week of October 21st in order to confirm commitment by October 28.


Learn More

We will be tabling at the Campus Center during the following times:

  • Thursday, September 12, noon-1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 18, noon-1 p.m.
  • Monday, September 23, noon-1 p.m.

Open Office Hours will be on Thursday, September 26 from 3-6 p.m. where you are free to stop in at the Design Thinking Initiative located at Capen Annex, 25A Henshaw Ave, to visit with Emily Norton the Director of the Design Thinking Initiative to ask any questions before submitting your application.