Two months into my internship, and I already feel the safety bubble of college life diminish. These past months have helped ease the transition from “what you think you know” to “what the real world is really like.”
Things that I’ve learned thus far:
There is no such thing as “you always” or “you never.” In four years of school it is easy to absorb many rules and regulations. Although, learning that “you can never do this” or “you must always do this” is only limiting you as a designer. There are definitely “rules” a designer should be aware of, but a good designer knows how to creatively push the limits and break those rules. Thinking that design is a one-way street is dangerous and extremely limiting.
Clients aren’t scary. It’s a complete myth that client interaction should leave you trembling with fear. They indeed are normal people who eat breakfast and brush their teeth at night. So be genuine and create awesome work.
Printers are your best friends. Printing can be a nightmare in college. It’s full of rushing and scrambling the night before your project is due. So now, when you think of printers you already have a bad taste in your mouth. I have learned that developing a relationship with the people you’re printing with is essential. It rewires your brain in the way you think of the production process of design. Printing is fun.
Shortcuts make your life simpler. Your boss knows much more than you do. Let me rephrase that, most everyone in the office knows more than you. You’re an intern. Let him/her/them give you tips on how to work quickly and efficiently. Learn the keyboard shortcuts because doing everything the long way is painful and annoying, for you and for them to watch.
Organizational skills aren’t just for type “A” people. Creatives are usually pegged as type “B” people who are laid back and contain no organizational skills. Well, throw that generalization out the window, because design requires a whole lot of organization. You have multiple projects, multiple pieces for each project, multiple files, multiple print shops you’re working with, multiple clients, and emails that flow in faster than water. Learn how to organize your thoughts, or find a program to help you do so–quickly.
Timelines in college are like unicorns. The timeline you receive from a professor in college is almost the same thing as a unicorn. It simply doesn’t exist, even though you really really want it to. In college you may get a semester to create a project of your choice…or maybe you get a month or two. Don’t get me wrong, this is still stressful. Although, in a real-life situation you may have hours to complete a project. I remember saying in school, “A professor can’t just tell me to be creative and expect a great result in 30 minutes.” Well, let me tell you, when someone pays you to be creative, you learn how to be creative under pressure.
Smaller agencies means multiple hats. If you work at a giant agency, you may just be the intern/junior designer, and it may have a simple job description. Working in a smaller agency requires you to wear multiple hats. Maybe one day you act as the receptionist, making phone calls, taking messages, typing emails, and then a moment later you’re designing a logo for a client, then that afternoon you’re driving over to the printer for a press check. I have learned to show up and be prepared for whatever that day may bring. It is thrilling to take these various job descriptions (hats) in stride as I work toward my goals.
Popping that safety bubble of college is not only terrifying, it’s exciting and releases you to do so much more out there.