Reflection on the Internship Experience

The cabin offices (c) Jhoanna Dimapanat

My experience as an intern at Highlights Foundation has been nothing short of inspiring and fulfilling. Working closely with passionate individuals dedicated to promoting arts and literature to children has been an incredible opportunity. From assisting in organizing book donations to participating in storytelling sessions and hands-on illustration activities, every day has been so eventful that I was always looking forward to what’s next.

Collaborating with authors and illustrators during workshops and events has allowed me to see firsthand how their creativity and dedication bring characters and stories to life, leaving a lasting impression on young readers.

This internship has not only enhanced my knowledge of children’s literature but has also reaffirmed my commitment to the importance of storytelling in shaping the minds of the future generation. I want my illustrations to be a part of this movement.

Although I am not a writer, the people I have met at the workshops were very supportive and motivational; making me want to pursue not only to illustrate but also to author my own children’s book someday.

I am also grateful that I was able to network with authors and illustrators who were already established within the industry and gain more knowledge along the way. I think was able to hone and improve my social skills ever since I started my internship. I used to be shy and in my own bubble, but now I push myself to be out there and to be not be afraid of conversing.

Overall, my internship at Highlights Foundation provided me with a platform for personal and professional growth, nurturing a lifelong appreciation for Childrens book literature and laying the foundation for the beginning of my career as an illustrator.

Accessible formats:

Link to my final video presentation

Illustrated Campus Map

Highlights Foundation Map digital sketch (c) Jhoanna Dimapanat

The very first illustration-related task that was given to me was to illustrate the Highlights Foundation’s campus map for the Illustration workshop. The idea for this project is to create a simple map drawing that would be filled out by the Illustration workshop students and faculty; a collaborative art piece.

Highlights already have a campus map which I used as my reference. I wanted to create a “cartoony” and a very minimal look to it while still having clear identification of the main buildings. As for the cabins, I made them into simple house silhouettes since I wanted the students to add the details themselves.

I did my first sketch in digital to know where I would be laying out the buildings and the road paths. I proceeded to do a pencil sketch on an 18 x 24 paper. Once I was done and satisfied with the overall look, I did the final ink lineart on an 18 x 24 watercolor paper so it could withstand whatever drawing materials students will use.

Below is the final traditional inked piece of the campus map (Unfortunately, I was not able to take a proper picture before I sent it out to the faculty)

Highlights Foundation Campus Map
18×24 – Ink on Watercolor paper (c) Jhoanna Dimapanat

….and the image below is how the map looks like so far with the other illustrators adding their own touch into the piece.

Role Model/Mentor Figure at Work

Photo by Antoni Shkraba:

My main role model at the internship is one of my professors at city tech. She is staying here at the Highlights as an artist resident and faculty. She was also the one who told me about the foundation, so I feel very lucky to have such a connection. I still learn about new things from her even though we’re not at city tech anymore. She has been pushing me to showcase my artwork and also put myself out there. I’ve also learned about the technicalities and nuances that comes with publishing a book and starting a commission.

That being said, I also find the rest of the faculty and even workshop guests/students as mentor figures. Once they find out that I am graduating soon, they gave me feedbacks and suggestions on how to approach my career path in different ways. One workshop guest in particular has given me so much information and knowledge regarding getting into Children’s Lit. in the Philippines; we’re planning on keeping in touch and continuing our chat soon over Zoom.

Second Design Assignment

Highlights Foundation intern sign (c) Jhoanna Dimapanat ’23

The second design project I worked on was creating the “Intern sign” for our information board at “The Barn.” I was told that this would be put up for guests to know that there are interns in-campus in case they need help or have questions.

The first thing I did was acquire the brand identity of Highlights Foundation. The company’s main colors are green and blue. Highlights Foundation uses four different types of fonts for its overall identity. The heading font is Roboto Slab, and then they use Open Sans for the body text. Beth Ellen or Avenir Text can be used for accents if needed.

The company also incorporates a blue+gray color combo if the subject of design or layout is serious or business-related, but since my design assignment is an informational matter, I stick with their classic blue/green.

Once I had the brand identity laid out, I decided to keep the overall design simple and minimalistic. I decided on this approach because I want it to be direct and clear for guests. I was told by my supervisor as well to keep the fonts a bit bigger than your usual 12pts to accommodate those with poor eyesight. I went to the company’s website and took inspiration from the geometric shapes used on the logo and the overall web layout.

My Responsibilities

Photo by Anna Shvets:

My role as an intern within the Highlights Foundation is to assist during workshops and also help out with creating design works for branding. My supervisor is the guest services coordinator of the company, but I also do some tasks under the Development Manager and Executive Director.

Some of the tasks that were not related to design/illustration were updating and organizing the inventory of the campus’ bookstore. It took multiple days for me to check each book and keeping track if the numbers were correct. It wasn’t a heavy work in my opinion and was actually very therapeutic because I was able to discover new authors and artists to check out during the process. The other task that took a good amount of my time for a week was scanning and archiving donated books to be put in the sponsored cabin libraries. The reason why this was a bit of a process was because some of the books were not available on the market that I had to input each information manually.


I learned about this internship through my Illustration professor. She talked about how working for the foundation creates a lot of opportunities for me to network and also gain knowledge from the workshops I will be assisting. The main thing that attracted me to the foundation is its focus on children’s literature which I want to be a part of as an illustrator.

I reached out to the foundation’s contact page and asked about their internship opening around January 13th. I immediately received a reply the same day, letting me know that there is no definite date yet on when they’re posting calls for applications, but they will be keeping in touch with me. There was a bit of a delay regarding the opening, but I finally heard back from the foundation around April 18th, and I applied immediately. I did not receive an invitation for an interview that was scheduled for May 16th.

The initial interview was done virtually. I was interviewed by the executive director and guest service coordinator. I remember the interview lasting around 30 minutes. One of the main questions was about my ability to work in teams and also if I had any prior experiences that I think could help me for this internship. I was also asked if I was familiar with programs such as adobe suite, slack, and Canva.

Ethics in Graphic Design 1b

Photo by Sora Shimazaki:

For the most part, I try to use my own resources instead of utilizing someone else’s work on my own creative designs. But, I do have some moments where I have to use other works that are not mine in order to complete a project.
An example of this is when I create timelapse videos for my illustrations. I would normally use a piece of background music in the video in order to make it more interesting. I usually post these videos on Instagram, and I make sure I mention and give credit to the composers in the description or sometimes even include a link to the actual source.
Another instance in which I had to use another person’s work for my design was for a Converse design mockup for class. I honestly just acquired some of the photographs through Google Images without credit or citing the source. This was before I started learning more about copyright laws. I only used the images for personal class work and have them as a sample design work on my portfolio. Since I do not remember where I acquired my sources, I made sure to put a disclaimer at the bottom of the images. (Although I think after reading AIGA’s Business Ethics – Use of Photography, I might have to take it down from my portfolio site since I did not acquire the original photographer’s permission, nor have I paid for licensing fees and such. It was not a royalty free or a free stock image either. )
After reading the Shepard Fairey vs. A.P. case, I was happy with the outcome. I think it was fair that A.P. was able to claim their dispute because Fairey received so much recognition and profited from the image he used as a source for his infamous “Obama Hope” image. Before reading the article, I did not even know that he sourced his reference for the poster design from another person’s creative work. I find it rather suspicious how he denied it at first but later admitted his mistake. While I still think he is a good designer, I just see him in a somewhat different light after learning about this dispute. I think this is an important thing to learn how mistakes could easily taint our name as an artist.


Kennedy, R. (2012) Shepard Fairey Is Fined and Sentenced to Probation in ‘Hope’ Poster Case. The New York Times

Design business ethics – American institute of graphic arts. (n.d.).

Newberry, C. (2022, July 19). Can I use this photo on social media? understanding image copyright. Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard.

First Design Project

First design related task that was given to me

While this is not the first project that was assigned to me, this is the first one that is design related. The project is not a big one, and I found it rather quick and simple to do. I was told to create one design layout for an upcoming workshop sign. I did not have to look for the design motifs nor for a font exploration since it was all provided to me already in a brand identity packet; I basically just had to lay them out in Adobe Illustrator and make sure the final file was in eps format.

The supervisor that assigned this project to me was so responsive when I had questions, and I think that was part of the reason why I finished this so quickly. The only reason this work took a little bit of time was to make sure the motifs were placed in the right spot.

Ethics in Graphic Design 1a

First workshop I assisted (c) Jhoanna Dimapanat

I started officially working for the Highlights Foundation last June 14, 2023. I had to relocate to an in-person internship at their Pennsylvania campus base. Besides being a paid internship, the foundation is also providing a place for me to stay and meals as well. I was really happy that I did not have to worry about looking for a sublet for the summer and also figuring out how to do my grocery shopping when I can’t drive at all.

So far, I am really enjoying my new environment, and the staff of the foundation has been so wonderful to me. While I was nervous at first, everyone was really understanding and gave me enough time to learn my new job.

The first project that was handed to me was not design related. I was asked to update the inventory of all the books in our campus bookstore. We thought it would take a while for me to finish this, but surprisingly I was able to finish the project quickly. What surprised me, though, is that in order to buy books or merchandise from our store, customers have to do it through their phone and scan a barcode. There is nobody keeping watch of the store, so the whole thing relies upon a “code of honor.” The foundation puts its trust in its guests to the community that they are going to pay for their purchases. Some guests who had no idea how to do the barcode purchase come to me for help; they go out on their way to look for me or another staff to complete their purchase. I thought it was pretty neat how much trust they have built in this community of authors and artists of the foundation.

The second project I had to work on was to create a simple design layout for a cabin sign. I was provided with some native motifs and a design mockup by one of my supervisors. I was told that I should make sure the motifs are laid out in a certain way in order to make sure we are not disrespecting the meaning behind them. The foundation uses its own specific type and logo design.
I was asked to take photos as well for the marketing team, and as far as I know, they take their photos for their own ads. (it seems like they ask either an intern or a retreat assistant to take photographs during retreat workshops with the permission of the guests)

I did not have to sign any non-disclosure agreements, and I don’t think any future projects will require me to do so.

Landing the job

Photo by Teona Swift:

My search for an internship that I really wanted to be a part of was quite a ride. I started applying for summer internships as early as January 2023. My plan was to get into a paid internship, and at the same has something to do with children’s book publishing or children’s literature.

I began building my portfolio around 2022 to give myself enough time to curate and have a good collection of my works. As for my resume and cover letter, I had one of my professors go over it for me, and I also asked my siblings to proofread it as well.
I did not initially start at children’s book publishing companies with my internship search ; I also went with a variety of options that I thought were interesting. Around February 2023, an art gallery in Manhattan offered me a position the day after the interview. I decided not to continue with the job, though, due to a scheduling conflict.

By February 2023, I shifted my focus solely to children’s publishing. I did most of my internship search online through Google. I also scoured organizations such as SCBWI and AIGA.

After shifting my focus, I received an interview offer for a graphic design internship position for MacMillan Children’s Book Publishing. It was nerve-wracking, so I asked for advice and help from my professors. Even though MacMillan chose another candidate over me, I was still grateful for them since it was a learning experience.
After that, I then received a few more opportunities for interviews with other publishing houses, such as Hachette’s Little Brown Books for Young Readers and Barefoot Books. Hachette, unfortunately, had to cancel their internship program while Barefoot Books, although they didn’t choose me in the end, they mentioned in their letter that they “strongly encourage” me to reapply for the fall or spring semester and that they would love to work with me in the future is possible. Although it was a bit disappointing, I felt very lucky to get an opportunity to have these publishing houses recognize my work and give me a chance.
The final interview offer I received was from the Highlights Foundation, an organization under Highlights for Children magazine. At this point, I was more familiar with the interview process. After a week or so of waiting, I was offered a paid internship at their Pennsylvania campus that will run from June to August.

About the Organization

For summer 2023, I will be interning at the Highlights Foundation based in Milanville, PA.

The Highlights Foundation is a not-for-profit organization running under Highlights for Children magazine. The organization is supported by individuals, publishing companies, and writer’s organizations who are committed to improving the quality of children’s literature by offering a range of topics and types of courses, from no-cost webinars to week-long workshops to online intensives.

The foundation also runs a scholarship program to serve those who may not be able to afford the cost of their workshops and such.

The foundation programs provide education, support, and encouragement for authors and illustrators who are either just starting out or maybe have some experience already. The children’s publishing professionals range from editors, authors, illustrators, art directors, publishers, agents, academics, and others who are there to support the students in any way possible.