Being an intern is tough. No matter where you work, whom you work with or what you are doing. You are dropped into an unfamiliar environment and expected to produce design content at a high level, and rather quickly.
It’s almost become a rite of passage for design students to have an internship. Experiencing the way the design business really works is an important step. You will quickly find what you want, and more importantly don’t want in a future employer.
It might help if you know a little bit about me. I’m a product designer based in Boston, and yes, I have been an intern. I have also had the privilege to work with dozens of design interns, and see them grow and develop as designers. I want to share a few words of advice on how you can get the most out of your internship opportunity.
Know what you want out of your internship before you take it
Be honest with yourself and your goals. Sure, it’s easy to accept an internship for the sake of having an internship. But, realize that you do have some control. If you are getting an offer, they clearly see something in you. It’s important to have a list or guideline of the skills your want to learn or improve. The more honest you are with yourself about your proficiencies and flaws, the better you can know what you need to learn. None of us know everything, so never lose the drive to learn.
Study and Prepare for your new role
This may seem like a given when you are starting work at a new company, but it never stops being an important step. The more you know about your future employer at the beginning, the more you (and they) will get out of the experience.
Never stop asking questions (no matter how annoying you may think it is)
This one is simple. If you don’t know something just ask. Many people can get the attitude that if they show a lack of knowledge in an area, then they won’t be respected or taken seriously. I can guarantee you that this is not the case. It shows more weakness when one does not actively seek an answer to a question or concern. Many times the person you are asking might not even have an answer. I can recall several instances of an intern questioning something, and me realizing that I/ our company didn’t have an answer or solution. This caused us to change and improve our design process…. Yes, an intern can have a big effect on a design team and company.
Get to know your co-workers
Its important to feel like you are a part of the company you are joining, and the easiest way to do this is by getting to know your co-workers. Just a simple introduction and conversation can create a connection that you can use throughout your career. Hey, some day they may be even using you as a contact or reference
Stay In Touch
Your co-works and employers care about your development, and that doesn’t end when your internship ends. We are interested in how your next steps work out, whether that is more schooling or an opportunity with a company or firm.
About the author: Jordan Maurice is an Industrial designer based in Boston, currently working for Symmons Industries. He attended Iowa State University for his Bachelors in Industrial Design, and is currently perusing a Masters Degree in Design Strategy from SCAD. For more information please visit: http://www.coroflot.com/jmaurice