We spoke to a current intern at design agency forpeople, who was keen to tell us all about what he learnt while undertaking his 6 month internship in Graphic Design. Josh was in the process of nearly finishing this internship and finding out whether he would be kept on at the company. We spoke to him to find out what he'd learnt and how the company had helped him grow.
Tell us a little about your internships, what were the main tasks you were trusted with?
JE: When I started my internship five months ago, I started in quite a Junior Role so I was given a lot of responsibility. This included branding projects, mocking up iPhone apps and lots of quite conceptual ideas, so I had a lot of input. This was great because when I started working on a client's projects they threw me in at the deep end. They also gave me quite a lot of opportunity to expand my knowledge in Film, an area that I wanted to go into. They said they would help me out with that and placed me on those kind of projects. forpeople were really helpful for allowing me to grow in the areas I wanted.
What was the most beneficial thing you took away with you?
JE: The other placements I've been on, I didn't get that much tutoring. Here, I've had Directors of the company help me and give me advice on how to do things, I've had Senior Designers always talking to me and it is a really positive atmosphere for working. There is never any deadline stress, but rather support of how to get around a particular problem and Senior Designers helping everyone out. Everyone has an input, so this has helped my approach to projects and how to get around certain problems.
At forpeople there is a more cooperative approach to projects. Senior Designers come round and suggest ideas for how I can personally improve what I'm doing and it will be things I hadn't thought of. As an intern, it is quite good because you can also provide input into their work too.
What was the biggest difficulty you faced during your internship?
JE: Probably the size of the company, you feel like you have to compete to earn your place within the company. I think this comes with every internship. You've got to compete with other interns and graduates to prove that you want the Junior Role the most. The interns wage is also not fantastic, and living in London it is difficult and it's the sacrifice you have to make. But working at forpeople, I'm struggling to think of a negative, I've absolutely loved it.
Do you feel like a valued member of the team?
JE: From day one they said they wanted me to have an input and they wanted me to be forthcoming with ideas. From day one I felt like a valued member of the team. When the Directors of the company are in and they are talking to you and they are having a laugh and a joke with you, so everyone gets on really well. One of the things I have learnt from doing internships is trying to find the atmosphere that suits you and the atmosphere you work best in.
I've known people that have worked at some really great companies that they've always wanted to work for but the atmosphere in the office is not suited for helping them work the best they can. The work could be great, but the atmosphere could be terrible. You have to strike a balance that can get the best out of the work you're doing.
Do you feel like you gained career long skills from your internship?
JE: When I started at forpeople, I wanted to move more into Film. They offered me the opportunity to do this, working on film shoots, working with editing software and providing me with some great people to work with. This gave me the opportunity to pursue this direction and gain some impressive careers skills.
It has also helped working in a multidiscipline agency. I've known from university that you could be great on Illustrator or InDesign, but in the work place when you're watching other people you get to know the short cuts and little tricks that makes the work easier.
The level is not so much a step up in the working world, but rather the speed the work needs to be produced. At university, you might have a Branding Project that is six weeks long or your dissertation project spread over four months, but now you've only got two weeks to complete a project or you'll have two days to come up with two concepts on a branding project. Within one or two months you to get up to speed.
What advice would you give a student/graduate looking for a graphic design internship?
JE: Don't limit yourself with where you want to work. When I started out looking for Graphic Design internships I wanted to move to Bristol. I looked in Bristol, Cardiff and limited myself for two months. You have to go where the work is. I spent too long looking for jobs that just were not there. I think you have to be prepared to move.
You have to be confident in your work. If a company seems hesitation or a lack of confidence in your work then that will reflect badly on you. You've got to believe you a capable of doing the work.
What advice would you give a student/graduate currently undertaking a graphic design internship?
JE: Be more confident and forthcoming. If you're only somewhere for a month or two, it is really hard to make yourself feel known. If I started again, I would be more confident in my work. Don't hold anything back, look for opportunities where you're working. Make sure you ask as well, I wanted to work more in Film so I asked the company and they gave me the opportunities to develop in that area. If you're in a company that do advertising, photography or film, just say you want to push into that area a bit more, otherwise you won't get the opportunity.
In your view, how important are Internships?
JE: I think internships are really important, because you get an insight into a particular company and find out what message they're trying to put out there with their work and designs. You also get the opportunity to try different places, I tried a few design agencies and a few advertising agencies and you get to try the different atmospheres. You have to find the best fit for you, especially in Design. When you're in university you have your set of friends in the studio and you feel open enough to comment on each other's work. But in the working world, you need to find that and they won't take offence and you won't take offence and you have a respect for everyone's work.
I think internships are essential for finding the right atmosphere, you can't just choose one company because you like the work they produce, because it might not be right for you.