As a first-semester junior with zero experience in design outside of school projects, I was unsure of what to expect when applying for internships. As I began seeking out opportunities and was afforded the chance to join the KM&A team as a design intern, I was eager for what the internship would entail.
As I’m now heading into my senior year, I can assure you that an opportunity like this has prepared me for my future and what the life of a graphic designer will be like. In the eight months that I have been a part of the team, I have grown so much and have also appreciated the extensive feedback that I’ve received from co-workers and clients.
Thinking about my time at KM&A, there are so many lessons that I’ve learned. While it would take hours to share every single thing, I’ve provided the most pivotal points below.
Working can be fun
From day one, KM&A has been an exceptional work environment. I immediately realized that the three principle KM&A adjectives of bold, savvy and connected, really fit this team. Working under tight deadlines and on big projects can be intimidating for a new intern, but with the occasional joke cracked and positive attitudes – I’ve realized that work doesn’t always have to be serious. Not to mention, with the help of the PPC (Party Planning Committee) there are always pitch-ins or happy hours to look forward to. A lot of the time people think that a work environment has to be dull and monotonous, but that’s certainly not how KM&A works. Each day presents a unique set of challenges that are always met with a laugh or smile.
I had to instantly embrace the fact that no one is perfect. It’s inevitable that typos, missed alignments and wrong color spaces will happen. As I’ve grown as a designer, I’ve realized the importance of checking your work over and over. The beauty of an internship is that your mentor and team always have your back.
Real work is exciting
As a designer, you’ll find yourself dreaming about making the next great logo or changing the world with your design. Of course, this has always been my goal, but I’ve realized that every day is not going to be a logo design or branding project. In fact, it’s usually not. However, that doesn’t take away from the excitement of seeing your work come to life in any kind of media. There is always something to look forward to as a designer and the fact that my projects are items that real people interact with brings me joy.
The little things add up
The biggest takeaway I’ve learned: tiny details can have a big impact. From the social media posts that need to be on brand to any print advertisements, it is critical for a brand and their messaging to be cohesive. The subtleties in every design matter and need to work together. The best part of being a designer is that I’ve been able to provide little moments of pleasure to people through my work. It could be through wit, beauty or simplicity, but I’ve had the power to place influence on someone’s life and company.
To sum it up, my internship at KM&A has provided innumerable skills to become the best designer I can be. While design skills are key to growth, it’s the practical life lessons that I will remember the most. Being in a supportive environment where people truly believed in me has supplied me with confidence as I head back to school and into a future first job. For those that are in the process of looking for an internship or are feeling discouraged, keep looking. Just as an internship with KM&A came to me, the right one will come to you. Although managing school on top of an internship can be difficult, it has been worth every second.