If you’re in the middle (or later) part of your career, what would you tell your younger self? And if you’re a student or recent grad, what do you wish you knew now that you’ll grind out and learn over the next ten or twenty years? Smpl. founder Elliot Strunk shares some insights for the community being built around our tools.
Thought Fart No. 2:
Get internships in a variety of environments.
Whenever I have an opportunity to talk to a room full of students, I’m always curious about their plans once they’ve graduated. The conversation typically goes something like this:
“How many of you would like to work in-house for a company once you’re out of school?”
One or two hands may go up.
“How many of you are interested in working for an advertising agency?”
A few more hands go up this time.
“How many of you are interested in working for a design studio?”
About half the room will typically jump at this option.
“And how many of you have experience having worked in any of these environments as an intern, volunteer or other capacity?”
Back to the one or two hands again.
When you buy a car, you take it for a test drive. Heck, you can get a taster at a bar when thinking about a new beer. So why would you plunge headlong into a professional decision without any understanding of the dynamics of the work environment? It makes no sense.
Yes, every workplace has its own culture. But these environments still rhyme even if they aren’t the same. Corporate in-house departments have a certain flavor, one that’s different from an ad shop. And the pace and work variety of an agency will be different from a design studio. (Not to mention only one of these three examples relies exclusively on design to pay the rent.)
So don’t wait for an internship, go grab it. The best ones are paid and aren’t grabbing dry cleaning for the team. But even if you don’t have a lot of hands-on time, you’re still networking. You’re learning through exposure to office culture. And all of these tidbits of information (the types of projects, the personalities, etc.) will make my earlier line of questions much easier to answer with confidence.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Gold via Unsplash.)