I'm constantly aware of passing time and its relation to personal growth. However, my understanding of time is often clouded by the looming fear of complacency. The more time that passes where I'm not pushing forward, the greater I'm at risk of falling behind. I imagine two, five, ten years down the road, where I could be “if…” and where I could be “if not…”. When I applied to the World’s Greatest Internship, I didn’t think anything would come of it. I never thought I’d end up quitting my job after four months, giving up my apartment, and agreeing to this journey that would ultimately change the course of my career.
Time does crazy things when you let it guide you. I see this experience as a opportunity–a shift in my predetermined schedule to recenter, refocus, and reestablish a direction. I couldn’t have ever guessed that I’d be selected to participate in this program, traveling all over the world and working at some of the greatest studios I’ve known. I can't predict what the next year holds either. What matters most is how I spend the every day. Every day is an opportunity to take more risks, challenge your ideas, work more efficiently, work better with others, and (maybe, just maybe) be more of a morning person.
This website will update periodically with a growing collection of data from my time during World’s Greatest Internship from October 2018 through March 2019.
October came and went in a flash, but what a great way to begin. These types of opportunities just don’t exist within the creative industry and it takes a really special group of people to have a wild idea and actually see it through. Between travel and work, the month was filled with many opportunities to set an intention. I started to realize that this is more than just my personal growth, but an opportunity to learn something new from every place I go.
During this first month, the greatest takeaway was how important leadership is. I thought a lot about the leaders in my life and the kind of one I want to be in the future. At Butchershop, there’s a lot of great leaders. In fact, the office is filled with the kinds of people you look forward to seeing every day. I realized that environments like this don’t just exist. They’re set with an intention, a vision about what a workplace should be like and approaching every action with that in mind.
November. We started at Collins and wasted no time diving in. To be honest, this experience is what I’ve been craving for months, maybe even years. We (by we, I mean Maddy and I, the other WGI intern) always say, “give us an occasion, and we will rise to it.” I saw this month as an opportunity to learn as much as possible, and give as much as I possibly could in return. I loved every second. The endless iterations, the harsh critique, the piles upon piles of references. Through it all, I came out a lot tougher and sharper than before.
I got coffee with Brian one morning, and the conversation quickly became the theme of the entire month. “You need to be tough,” he said, “when anybody pushes you, what do you have to do?” I hesitated and then said, “you have to push back,” giving him a shove as we walked down the sidewalk. If anything, that’s exactly what Brian Collins wants from his designers. A strong point of view, the willingness to fight, the determination to stand up for the work.
I’m sure many people can relate to having worked in environments where they felt they didn’t have a voice. For the first time, I felt liberated from the fact that having a strong point of view doesn’t mean you’re subordinate. It means you have the gumption to stand up for yourself and the work. I mean, if we can’t even do that, what’s the role of the designer anyway? We have the incredible responsibility of creating work that influences behavior and shapes perception. With this in consideration, we have to acknowledge that nothing is sacred until the solution is absolutely spot on. Not our egos, our art boards, our shiny mockups–not even Brian Collins himself.
The next day, Brian pulled Maddy and I into the library and told us to sit down. It’s one of those conversations where you wish you could have recorded the whole thing, but in it’s distilled version, this is what he told us: “Talent is not enough if you don’t know how to ask for what you want. The world will demand things of you all the time that you won’t want to give them. You need to fight. You need to demand what you want from the world”. The elevator rang and Brian stood to grab his bag and scarf. Before he left the room, he turned to us and said “and you need to do the same, and do it now.”
So here’s to a future of absolutely zero compromises, of standing up for yourself, advocating for others, and fighting like hell for the work you believe in.
London! The last time I was here, I was on an orientation for what I thought would be my first job out of school. I stayed an extra long weekend after our scheduled events ended and soaked up the city I’ve loved from afar, and now I’m here again for an extended time. I love the experience this program brings–the opportunity to take your time and let everything sink in. When people go on vacation, they want to pack in as much as possible in a short amount of time, but I know that you can learn just as much by stepping back and watching the people around you.
Our first day at Made Thought, we were practicing our morning commute. When we entered the station, a flood of people poured in behind us and rushed towards the stairs. I noticed the silence. Nobody said a word the entire three-minute exchange from platform to platform! All you could hear was the footsteps of a hundred people all moving in the same direction, complying with one another to ensure a seamless morning.
That Friday, we were invited to a pub across the road to celebrate the weekend. At midnight, I checked my clock and asked, “how in the hell did we just spend the last 6 hours outside that pub?” Who knows! The time flew. Rounds of pints, shattered glass, and rowdy banter seemed to melt the time away. We realized what a fun and sociable group of people were surrounded with, and wondered how this sidewalk of boisterous strangers could have started their weeks in total silence.
There are pros and cons to being a tourist. We become immersed in a place, but still hold ourselves at a distance to observe from afar. I found myself asking a lot of questions I maybe wouldn’t consider if I wasn’t here for such a short time. I have written down in my notes, “elevation in design is restraint,” but I wonder how that statement applies to culture. The dichotomy between precision and inhibition is so evident in London. I wonder what would happen if someone shattered the glass and invited everyone to join in too.
The New Year is in full swing. Stay tuned for some lofty resolutions.