Be brave, work smart and give thanks: 7 tips on how to make the most of your internship

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Over the summer we took on a number of interns including second year design student Yee Poon. Having spent time working at a number of design studios around Bristol and Bath, we asked Yee to write a post about her experiences and the things she’d learnt. Here’s what she had to say…

With second year over and four months of summer ahead, I couldn’t face another summer working behind the till at my local convenience store. For a more enriching experience, I opted for a series of internships with three very different design studios in Bristol and Bath.

So what did I learn from all of this?

 1. Do your research

Make a dream list of the studios that you would ultimately like to work for. Follow these studios on social media to get to know them and find out what makes them tick. Gain an understanding of what they do and importantly, whether it corresponds with what you want to do.

 2. Keep it snappy

My initial email was brief – it introduced myself and the fact that I’m looking for an internship with a link to my online portfolio. Ensure your work is well documented and remove any work that you don’t absolutely love. Design studios are busy places, so make sure your work is easy to find and well documented.

3. Make a good first impression

Don’t be late. Don’t trust buses. Don’t go out the night before. First impressions are so important, so start as you mean to go on. Put the kettle on and get to know your team. Every good design studio is fuelled by caffeine!

4. Work smarter

In all the studios I interned at, I was lucky enough to have been thrown into the deep end. Interning doesn’t necessarily mean filing and making cups of tea. Enjoy the freedom of getting to work independently on a live client brief – it feels good when you see your contributions go out to the client. Get organised, learn to prioritise what’s important and learn when to push back.

5. Be brave

The fact is, you don’t actually learn anything by playing things safe. Don’t overthink it, just get the work done. If you make a mistake, don’t panic, learn from it. And definitely don’t be afraid to ask for help.

6. Soak up the advice

Remember, everyone in the studio is your mentor, if you let them. The Creative Director is the Creative Director because they know their stuff. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t like something that you’ve spent two days on. I have found that feedback can be brutal but also really constructive. Ultimately, you walk away knowing exactly what was wrong and how to improve it.

7. Reflect & give thanks

Internships have made me realise that working in graphic design is exactly what I want to be doing after I graduate. If I were to be offered a full-time position right now, I think I’d ditch uni. I have learnt to work faster, smarter and braver.

 

Words by Yee Poon, intern summer of 2015.

What are your thoughts on internships? Let us know about what experiences you’ve had. The good, the bad and the ugly(!) Let us know @fiascodesign