Saturday, 7 December 2013

From the Other Side

Having worked at my company for a year now, I have had plenty of opportunity to see internships from the other side; gaining a new perspective. We don't get many interns in (I am ashamed to say) but when we do we have had a variety of people. We have seen everything from new graduates and students to young teenagers, with all varieties of experience. As the least experienced member of staff (and near enough the youngest) - the Junior, I guess the interns (especially graduates) see me as their next step, their confidante and I love getting to know the graduates and their stories. These are some things I have noticed from the other side:

We recently had one guy in who started on time but left dead on clocking off time. Those of you who know my blog will know that when on placement I had a big problem with the whole concept of this. I have not worked in a single design studio where the majority of people have left on time; there are always stragglers and late workers, it is (to some extent) the nature of the job. I didn't mind that he left on time because I knew his work was deadline-free but it was the whole awkwardness of him leaving. I think it would really show dedication and kindness to offer once in a while to help out of it is clear people are in need of it. But essentially, when he left the office he never said "Good bye" of "Have a nice evening" or "Thanks for today" and that really bothered me; he just snuck out. This bothered me especially because he left on time. It felt a bit like his attitude was wrong: his intentions were self-centred and he didn't want to become part of the team. I would never expect someone to stay late whilst they were on placement - but if they did, it would show true dedication and selflessness - even to offer. It shows that you have the right attitude, especially if staying later (even by 10 minutes!) is an occupational hazard in this industry and it shows you understand that.

Air of Desperation 
We had one placement in who pretty much jumped on me straight away; asking me if I was the Junior, and was I a placement and did they offer me the job whilst I was on placement... 
I was keen to get to know her and where she'd been, as was she with me, but it soon became clear that she wanted to know if their was a job in this for her. I completely don't blame her for wanting to establish this early on but understand that the Junior is not the person to ask. Also, once this has been established, it is key to not mention that you would like to be paid more or offered permanent work at every available opportunity. It is off-putting, awkward and frankly - rude. Jobs are earned by hard work and dedication. You cannot start asking within minutes of being on your first placement, if there's a chance of a job. It is different if you have the skills after maybe a year's experience as you would be useful to a company so it would be good to highlight your experience, but it is important to channel this message of your availability to the higher powers. It just annoys everyone else. Especially if we all know you are not ready yet; like this girl. She just seemed kind of desperate and a little like she thought she was ready and so wasn't willing to learn any more. Not a good attitude.

Get Involved
Having been the intern many times (and twice in the company I am in, with the people I now work with) I know how important it is to get to know everyone. Your time there will be much easier and productive if you are not afraid to get stuck in and get to know everyone. It really bugs me when interns (who are there to absorb the environment they are in and learn as much as possible) are sat there with their earphones in. This closes a lot of doors for them - for example they don't overhear interesting issues/company politics/company banter and there is no way they can learn anything either about the process in our industry or our people if they are sat there in their own world. Now if we are busy, we can sometimes be very quiet and almost stand-offish - we don't always have enough time to sit down and chat with interns, but regardless of how busy we are - there is always lunch time. It is the perfect time to get to know people personally and more about the work place in an informal setting. If you are sat with your headphones in all day and eat lunch at your desk when you are here to learn from us, then you will walk away with a fraction of what you could have learned. 

We have had interns that just don't stop moaning! It seems obvious but Please and Thank-you's do not go unnoticed - and their absence even more so. At the end of the day, our company is doing you a favour, so at least pretend to be grateful. The company I work at now, is the company that while on placement I felt I gained the most experience so I know a bad placement when I see one, but when interns moan to me about the work they are given - I just think - it could be worse, and that they don't know how lucky they are. It annoys me a bit but they will realise. I appreciate that not all placements are enjoyable, but if you want to be invited back, you need to have the right attitude, and no P's and Q's and a whole lot of negativity means you have a funny way of showing that you want to work here.

Seeing internships from the other side has given me an alternative insight. I think I was guilty of doing a few of these things, which is why I have felt the need to mention them. It is important to understand that the Junior is your best friend - in that they have the most recent account of your experience so it is more likely they will understand you and your needs - they understand how difficult it is to find work in graphic design at the moment and they will probably be the least patronising, so use them. Get involved, get to know everyone and give off the right attitude and you are on to a winner.