Insights from an intern
04 January 2019
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Grade 9, 2010 - I failed my final maths paper DISMALLY and figured that, if I wasn't great with numbers, maybe it was a sign that I was creative, so I chose Design as my major for the duration of high school.

Fast forward a few years and this girl achieved a distinction in Design. Again, this could only mean one thing: two words - CREATIVE. GENIUS. That was it - I was off to better and brighter things and thought it only made sense that I attend an actual design academy for my tertiary education. I struggled and cried (a lot), but persevered and finally got my degree.

Despite not particularly enjoying what I'd studied, it was all I knew so I decided to head straight into the working world, thinking I'd bag a design job easily. Wrong! For months, I had multiple interviews and the results were always the same; I was "too young with too little experience".

Back to square 1: I decided that if I couldn't change my age, I could change the amount of experience I had and got an internship at Xfacta. I spent my first month in the Design Department; 4 years of studying at a creative institute seemed wasted - I was so out of my depth. But I learned more in 1 month than I had in the past 7 years pursuing my apparent creative flair. I then moved into Client Service and surprisingly enjoyed it far more than I'd expected. I've never known client service to be described as an 'exciting' role, but it was very different to the mould I'd been forcing myself into for years - and it led to a 'lightbulb' moment; I wasn't great at maths nor was I a particularly good designer, but maybe I could fit somewhere in the middle.

Month 3: Strategy - something I didn't even know existed until this internship. Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I felt rather reluctant, but went with it and began to understand the importance of strategy in the creative industry. I learned that without a brand strategy, you have no foundation on which to build your brand, but with one, you reinforce your positioning in the market and build a long-term plan in order to achieve specific goals. Somehow, strategy felt like the common ground between creative and analytical and it challenged me in a way that has boosted both my confidence and competency.

Without this internship, I'd still be unemployed and left believing that I had to make a career in design as it was what I was supposedly qualified to do. Without this internship, I would still be ignorant of the difference between kerning and leading. And lastly, without this internship, I would never have stepped out of my comfort zone, would never have discovered how many lessons there are to be learnt or the amount of experience to be gained.

To anyone who, like me, turned their nose up at doing an internship... don't! I can honestly say it's one of the better decisions I've made to date and I recommend it to anyone who isn't sure where their interests lie or what they should be doing. It's not only a chance to discover or confirm what you do like, but also provides a space to find out what you don't - because if you leave an internship not having enjoyed one thing, you're one step closer to finding out what you do want to do.

"If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done." - Thomas Jefferson

By Caitlin Tearle
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