Careers FAQ

Recruiting Questions

  1. To whom should I address my cover letter?
    This answer comes first, because it is the most frequently asked question! The answer is: “Dear Recruiting” or “To Whom It May Concern” is just fine. Since, chances are, you don’t personally know anyone in the recruiting group, having a name won’t make any difference. We promise.
  2. How should I apply?
    Apply directly for the position you are interested in from our current listings. Please make sure you qualify for the role before applying. It is okay to apply for positions in multiple offices, but applying for positions you do not qualify for will not increase your chances (and will likely raise a red flag within the recruiting team). Include a cover letter and résumé (copy and pasted) on the résumé page for your application. In addition, design applicants should include a PDF or URL of a portfolio of your work. Attachments must be formatted as an Adobe text- based .pdf, PowerPoint or word document. (A physical portfolio doesn’t work well to give you the most exposure to the people who need to evaluate your work.) After applying, we will contact you within about four weeks if we are considering your application.
  3. I really want a job at IDEO! How can I get hired?
    IDEO looks for talented people who have a wide range of interests. Most new hires have advanced degrees or significant experience working in a specific field, but they’re not specialists. We look for people T-shaped people. That is people with at least one deep area of expertise and a broad reach of other skills and experiences to draw on, whether from past employment experience or personal endeavors.

    In addition, great candidates have experience, comfort, and desire for doing their work in teams. IDEO projects are highly collaborative, and project teams typically comprise people from multiple disciplines within IDEO, from our client, and sometimes other partners from our talent ecosystem.

    We hope to find answers to these types of questions: What do you offer? What is your commitment to design? What are your goals? Who else can validate your story? Once we get started in the interview process, we talk to your references, and have enough substantial conversations with you to learn who you are and help you get to know IDEO.
  4. How does the recruiting process work?
    We have a small recruiting team who works with people in each of our locations to manage job listings, read incoming applications, determine fit, and coordinate the interview and offer process.

    A candidate who comes for an interview may meet more than a dozen people. Candidates should bring examples of work they’ve done, cool stuff that they are passionate about, and things they want to do. Interviews range from pointed questions about work examples to casual conversations about life.

    After a series of interviews, the hiring team gets together as soon as possible to review and compare each candidate's qualifications for the role. The decision that a candidate will bring a lot of value to us---and that he/she will get a lot of value out of being here---has to be championed by almost everyone in the room.
  5. Will you contact me regarding the status of my application?
    We regret that we can’t reply personally to each submission. We will review and share your submission with the appropriate people inside IDEO. If there's an immediate match between your talents and our needs, we will contact you directly within four weeks. (If you do not hear from us within that time, please assume that we do not have an appropriate opportunity at this point, but will certainly keep your talents in mind and your qualifications on file for any appropriate openings which may develop in the future.)
  6. Do you require years of experience, or do you hire direct from school?
    We think it is important for our continued success that we bring in people from both ends of the spectrum to keep us fresh and to import new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. In some cases we need a seasoned professional who can hit the ground running and help us push in a new direction, while in others we have a solid, supportive professional network in place that can help a less experienced person grow and thrive.
  7. How can candidates stand out?
    We want to know as much as we can about a candidate, not be impressed by fun fonts or clever gimmicks. Different roles require different presentations: If you have a design background, the aesthetics of your résumé matter more than those with a business background, where your impact and clarity of thinking will be the big clues. We need everything you send to us to be electronic, including your portfolio. There are lots of people who will view your work, often while they travel, so electronic formats work best. Please provide your work in a PDF format or provide a link to a website so we can give you maximum exposure inside IDEO. Degrees are important, but not necessarily because of which school it’s from. We have people at IDEO from all kinds of degree programs around the world. Help us get to know you by including additional credentials and distinctions as you see fit. Design is both aesthetic and pragmatic. Too much information can be overwhelming, while too little leaves others to fill in the gaps, so find a balance by sharing themes and priorities. Attention to detail matters to us greatly, and a résumé with errors can be a big deal.
  8. How do you determine cultural fit?
    We see ourselves as a mosaic of individuals, where the big picture is beautiful but each individual is different. Your passions, your enthusiasm, your ability to collaborate, your travel adventures, the latest book you’ve read, what music you crave, or a movie you hated… You never know when a passion of your’s will come in handy on a project.

    Good candidates offer more than a list of former jobs they’ve had or courses they’ve taken. We sometimes read résumés from the bottom up, because what you’ve accomplished outside of work may tell us as much as what you’ve done as someone else’s employee. Use your cover letter to tell a story that may not come through on your résumé. Help us connect the dots; tell who you are, for real.
  9. What’s in it for me?
    We strive to be an extraordinary and sustainable workplace for world-class professionals. We’ve applied the human-centered design process to our own organizational structure and processes, and we continually fine-tune our system to ensure that we effectively address employee growth and wellness. We think it’s important to examine all the factors that are valuable to a relationship between you and IDEO, not just the obvious ones like pay and benefits. We’ve learned that while money is an important component of offering a great place to work, it’s not the single most important aspect. Here are four aspects of why we think IDEO is a great place to work:

    Unique work opportunities: IDEO attracts the most interesting, diverse, and difficult set of design challenges in the world, in both the private and public sectors. We offer opportunities to work across a variety of products, services, industries, clients, technologies, and experiences, in a volume and scale that is hard to match anywhere. We give teams the power to build relationships with influential clients and organizations and we provide a high degree of autonomy to guide the work and generate excellent, appropriate, and delightful design solutions.

    Talented and diverse people: e hire talented design thinkers who represent many perspectives, disciplines, nationalities, and points of view. We believe a civilized workplace is a more rigorous and sustainable place to work, so we don’t hire jerks. (Please see The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton, Stanford professor and IDEO Fellow, or read his blog.) We provide ways to share knowledge and projects among our people, believing that we all work better and learn more when we freely interact and collaborate with other talented people.

    Supportive and inspiring spaces: People thrive when they work in stimulating, comfortable, and well-located places. We try to be in cities where people like to be and that offer facilities and workspaces that promote collaboration and inspire great design. We provide resources and leaders who craft community as a primary element of their jobs. We believe this is far better than working out of your basement or in a corporate cubicle!

    Compensation and benefits: Ah, money! We offer competitive base compensation and paid time off in addition to a variety of employment benefits including discretionary profit sharing, sponsored healthcare, dental, vision and disability insurance, retirement benefits, and other employee assistance benefits. Other perks may include public transportation benefits and wellness programs.
  10. I still have questions. May I talk with someone?
    Unfortunately, due to the volume of applicants we cannot give informational interviews. If you have a specific question that isn’t answered above, please send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Please do not email other people from our Contacts page for job inquiries.

Internship Questions

  1. Is there an application deadline to apply for an internship?
    Different studios recruit for interns at different times of the year with different application deadlines. That said, most studios post internships opportunities around the start of each year. Please check our careers webpage for our various internship opportunities across our company. The deadlines for each position will be noted in each internship posting.
  2. What’s this I hear about IDEO’s internship program?
    IDEO brings on dozens of interns from a variety of academic backgrounds throughout the year. Different offices have different requirements for internships. Please read the job posting carefully before applying to make sure you meet the qualifications? We accept international students on visas in most of our locations. We truly value our interns, who often make real contributions to IDEO’s projects and culture. Many have later become IDEO employees, though there are no guarantees. We think you’ll learn a lot and you’ll have fun as well.
  3. How long are the programs, and when do they run?
    The majority of our interns join our somewhat formal and structured programs that run from June to the beginning of the school year. We also have six-month programs we fill throughout the year on an as-needed basis.
  4. Which offices have internship programs?
    All of our offices offer internships, but the number and duration vary each year due to changing workload.
  5. Are any internships unpaid?
    All IDEO internships are paid. We also offer $100 per month reimbursement for public transportation in some of our locations. We do not consider applicants who want to work for free.
  6. What kind of students do you look for?
    Typically, our interns are entering or within a graduate degree program. Successful candidates display exceptional skill and can demonstrate high-quality work in the domain of the internship they have applied for. All candidates must be passionate about their area of specialization. We look for students who demonstrate a clear point-of-view relating to their work, especially as it relates to the world of design. IDEO has a team-oriented, collaborative culture, and we want students who play well with others—but you need to be self-directed toward excellence. An ability to thrive in ambiguity will help, too!
  7. Can I intern at IDEO while on sabbatical or during a career transition?
    We regret that we can offer internships only to students pursuing degrees.
  8. What kind of projects will I work on?
    Our interns work alongside senior staff within the mainstream of IDEO projects. Your time will likely include participation in brainstorms, prototyping, in-context observations, and other aspects of human-centered design. It may include client meetings, presentations, and travel. It will not involve sharpening pencils or pouring coffee (unless, you know, you want to.)
  9. Are there other benefits to interning at IDEO?
    Interns are fully part of cultural life at IDEO, and are included in all company-wide activities. This exposes the team to a range of people and spaces at IDEO, and involves presenting a deliverable to your colleagues. In addition, each intern has goal-setting check-ins, and an exit interview when you leave, because we want to learn from your experience here as well. Interns are assigned mentors, who provide guidance and answer questions.
  10. How should I apply?
    Apply directly for the position you are interested in from our current internship listings. Please make sure you qualify for the internship before applying. It is okay to apply for positions in multiple offices, but applying for positions you do not qualify for will not increase your chances (and will likely raise a red flag within the recruiting team). Include a cover letter and resume (copy and pasted) on the Resume page for your application. In addition, design applicants should include a PDF or URL of an electronic portfolio of your work. Attachments must be formatted as an Adobe text- based .pdf, PowerPoint or word document. (A physical portfolio doesn’t work well to give you the most exposure to the people who need to evaluate your work.) After applying, we will contact you within about four weeks if we are considering your application.
  11. I still have questions. May I talk with someone?
    Unfortunately, due to the volume of applicants we cannot give informational interviews. If you have a specific question that isn’t answered above, please send an email to jobs@ideo.com. Please do not email other people from our Contacts page for internship inquiries.