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Internships: What I have learnt

Any recent design graduate will clearly remember the ice-water-over-the-head moment of realisation that comes about ten minutes after the final portfolio submission – now what? During the last months of my degree, I was spending time reading up on agencies I admired, updating my C.V, polishing my website (and my shoes). I didn’t really know how the next few months would pan out, and it seemed that everyone had a different plan of action for what they’d be doing when we were let loose in London, but we all knew the rite of passage: Internships.

I’d say that after a fairly grueling but equally amazing 10 months of interning, I’ve built up a few experiences that would be worth sharing with anyone about to embark on the same journey. Here’s three:

  1. Know what you’re worth

To be blunt, one of the most telling things about whether or not an internship will be a positive is the pay. If an agency expects you to work hard, carry your weight and contribute as part of the creative team, they will be happy to pay you a working wage.

If your employer does not pay you they do not value you, if they don’t value you, they are unlikely to take time to mentor you, and if they don’t mentor you, what on earth are you doing there?

From my own experience, studios just offering to pay ‘expenses’ do not have much interest in your output, as it costs them nothing to keep you there making tea, and performing mundane tasks.

London is an incredibly expensive city in which to live, and anyone offering you a job for less than minimum wage either has an empathy deficiency, or is simply not that bothered about your wellbeing.

  1. Speak up

Internships offer a unique opportunity to really push yourself, make mistakes and improve because of them. If you don’t know how to do something, ask; If you want to weigh in on a project, speak up. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to prove yourself, and wanting to appear totally capable, but you will miss out on valuable lessons if you keep to yourself and don’t stick your neck out. Great intern programs create a safe environment for you to give things a go without worrying what people will think if you’re not yet a dab hand at baseline grids.

  1. Find a great community

Design is a social profession, and working among an interesting and inspiring group of people will really make a difference to the way you work. If you find yourself in a studio with great people, diverse projects (and possibly a foosball table), it’s definitely worth staying.

I have had an incredible time interning at The Team. The welcoming and vibrant atmosphere has really set the bar high in terms of studio culture, and it’ll be hard to beat! Being treated as a Junior Designer is something I’ve appreciated most, and because of this responsibility I’ve really felt like a part of the studio, rather than an add-on.

interns, intern programmes, design interns

I’ve had the opportunity to work on a diverse set of projects, from film, to branding, to marketing to illustration. My work has always been taken into consideration, and the designers and creative leads are fantastic teachers whose constructive criticism I highly value. There aren’t enough superlatives really, and if I try to fit any more “fantastic”s and “incredible”s in, it’ll start to look like a sponsored ad, so I’ll end with this: if you’re looking for an internship to set you on the right track, and a bunch of friends with a wicked sense of humour, I’d recommend The Team any day.

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