5 Things I’ve Learned as A Graphic Design Intern

5 Things I’ve Learned as A Graphic Design Intern 

The dreaded Summer between your junior and senior year…. the “intern summer”.  Everyone has to do it. That is, if you actually want a job upon graduation.  But just the thought of it! Trading in beaches and concerts for computers and cubicles. No thank you! But what they don’t tell you (and by “they” I mean your overbearing professors and predecessors) is that having an internship CAN and SHOULD be fun.  Especially if it’s in a field you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be the stereotypical pencil-pushing, coffee-fetching drudgery that everyone pipes it up to be. Farmore Marketing has truly surprised me this Summer.  It taught me about the fast-paced, ever-changing, whirlwind, rollercoaster that is: Graphic Design.

Here’s a short list of 5 of the many things I’ve learned from working with and observing the passionate and dedicated team at Farmore Marketing:

Clients are People Too

Coming out of Graphic Design School, we are asked to make projects and portfolio-work revolving around a “Client Brief”.   We are given a task to complete for a fictitious and hypothetical coffee shop, record label or {insert boutique company seeking a rebrand here}. What you don’t get through a university, is real one-on-one experience with the owners of these companies.  People who have dedicated their whole lives to something they’re passionate about. These people put their whole life’s work in the hands of someone who can brand it! ‘These people’ walk in and out of Farmore Marketing every day! Whether it’s the owner of a construction company or a boat paint company, their brand is their baby; and it’s Farmore’s job to sell it! That being said, you must handle a baby with care.  Here at Farmore, “professional” and “personable” seem to be two sides of the same coin.  CEOs and marketing managers walk through our doors and are instantly greeted by a familiar face.  Someone they’ve been working with from day one to define their company values, and uphold their brand guidelines. Heck, I’ve only been here for three short months and I could tell you the exact fonts, color hex-codes, and photo-styles for each client we have. A marketing team’s job is more than just banging out the aforementioned “Client Brief” a­­nd moving on to the next one.  It’s getting to know the person behind the phone call.  The person who believed enough in their company’s success, to hire someone to promote it.

Quality > Quantity

Quality obviously trumps quantity when it comes to creating graphics and digital imagery. That’s a given. But what I’m talking about here is the quality of a team as a whole. Farmore Marketing is six people.  Yes, you read correctly, six people.  When comparing to the glamorous, top-floor, executive-suite, 200-person ad agencies, that doesn’t seem like much.  However, each of those six team members at Farmore know everything about every client in the books. In my first week as an intern, I had a lot of catching up to do.  Every hour or so a conversation would spontaneously combust into first names, scheduled promotions, weekly video shoots, social media calendars and everything in between.  While I was flipping through my notes trying to keep up, these six were completely fluent in the language of marketing. If I were the owner of a business that needed rebranding, I would much rather put it in the hands of six people that are familiar with my concept and core-values, than hand it off to a larger-than-life-agency that will file my brief in the “rainy-day column”.  Every Tuesday, our whole office meets to discuss every single project we’re currently working on to a full extent. I’m not sure many agencies can say the same.

Companies have Personalities

My first task was to design Mother’s Day social media graphics for four different companies.  Easy.  “Happy Mother’s Day”, pop the logo in there, on to the next one! … Not quite.  Each company has a different personality. From the grungy home-repair company to the strong-silent construction company and back to the free-flowing boating business.  It’s as if Farmore got a hold of my middle school yearbook, picked a handful of my many teen phases and said, “CREATE”! When making graphics for these different clients you have to flip a switch when bouncing back and forth from design-spread to design-spread. You can’t create a piece of content for one company’s social media with another client in mind.  While this seems remarkably obvious, it did take some adjusting. In school, you get to design things the way you are feeling in the moment.  Whereas at an internship, you may have to design how a 50-60 year-old man with a fishing pole on a boat would feel on Father’s Day right after a cold beer. Through this internship, I learned that the best Graphic Designer’s wear many hats (and wear them well), even though these hats may not always be their own. 

 Celebrate the Wins

As everyone with a 9-5 desk job can attest, a career in any industry can become a hum-drum routine of day-to-day keyboard-clicking and number-crunching. Moreover, “internships” aren’t universally deemed to be sexy or exciting by any means, but rather a stepping stone in one’s long-term career.  Through this internship, the team at Farmore Marketing has taught me to celebrate the wins! No matter how small.  Whether it’s getting a mailer approved that’s been on-hold for months, or completing a how-to YouTube tutorial in illustrator for the fifth time in a row, the little wins make all the keyboard-clicking in the world worthwhile.  Without the wins, there would be no purpose and without purpose you lose your passion. So, recognize the Wins of you and your teammates when you see them and don’t let them get lost without a silent applause, a gif in the Slack group message, or an audible office-wide cheer.

Break Down the Cubicle Wall

Lastly, and probably the most import thing I’ve learned about being a part of a creative team, is that you will quickly become friends with your teammates. If there was a Venn Diagram of “Creative-Minded People who work in Marketing Agencies” and “Genuinely Nice People”, alas… the circles would overlap completely.  Sadly folks, it simply comes with the territory.  Marketing is all about hearing what people are trying to say and getting other’s to truly listen to it.  It’s a communicative industry. Therefore, it was only a matter of days (ahem…hours), that I learned about Amanda’s lifelong love for otter habitats, Daniel’s contagious religious passion, and Luke’s interest in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you think about it, you spend most of your time in an office with the same people trying to achieve a common goal.  That’s some real Lord-of-the-Flies stuff right there. If you don’t take the time to appreciate the people you’re working with for who they are outside of the office, you won’t have a good (or successful) experience inside the office.  Fortunately, at Farmore, the silent-intern-experience wasn’t even an option for me.  The team quickly taught me to bust down that cubicle wall and start bouncing ideas around. Such is life at a creative agency. 

So, as I’m about to enter my Senior year in a Graphic Design education, I can honestly say that I’ve learned more from three months in this office than I could from three years in a classroom. And it’s safe to assume I’ve learned more than just font-pairings and logo-marks. I’ve learned that the scary, boring, fetch-me-my-coffee-peasant “internships” don’t really exist.  At least not at Farmore Marketing. Here, they treat you as a team member and they truly invite your ideas and collaboration.

And don’t worry. Speaking as the true Summer Intern I am, I can assure you that this is not a paid promotion. ;) 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Kaylin Ingram
University of Florida - Class of 2019
Major: Graphic Design

Check out her Graphic Design Portfolio! 

Web Design and Development by Farmore Marketing