Open Lab is proud to have internship placements as part of their service offerings to the wider design industry. We use our connection with Massey University students and alumni to allow companies to experience their creative potential first-hand. This is the second instalment of our interview series catching up with our interns where they share their thoughts, feedback, and overall experience.
Meet Neve Linforth, who has recently completed her internship as a Service Designer at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Hi Neve! So I’d like to begin by asking how you heard about the internship?
I heard about it through Open Lab. They gave me a call and asked if I wanted my name put forward and organised an interview. They had already put me forward for quite a few internships but I finally landed one at MBIE!
Interns can cover a wide range of tasks, depending on the business need at the time of placement. What did your internship involve?
I would describe myself as 'design support' to one of the teams at MBIE. It was my role to make their documents look professional and to make infographics/diagrams when they needed them. A lot of what I did was information or editorial design.
As one of New Zealand’s largest government agencies, MBIE’s mandate is to grow New Zealand’s economy. How did you find working within this environment?
I found working with MBIE really great. Everyone was supportive and I learned a lot about what it's like to work within a government agency.
Our goal with placements is to help students gain industry experience. Do you think your internship helped you grow as a designer?
Interning at MBIE helped me learn how to work with a whole lot of different people. I learned how to take a lot of complex information and distill it down into one or two A3 pages. My information design skills have definitely improved.
Open Lab aims to create a smooth transition for students into the internship workplace. Did you find the process easy and stress free?
Having Open Lab facilitate really helped to make everything easy. I didn't have to worry about anything but turning up to the interviews and signing the contract. Without Open Lab's assistance I would have had to set myself up as a contractor and learn how to pay my own tax, which would have been a hassle.
We also assign an Open Lab mentor to check in with each intern along the journey to ensure each placement is going well. Did you find this support useful?
Open Lab mentors helped me feel not so alone. It can be pretty daunting starting a new job where you don't know anyone, so it was good to know that I had support outside of work that I could rely on if I got stuck.
With such variation in the organisations that approach us for interns, every internship is unique. What was the best part about your internship role?
The best part of the role was getting to apply everything I had learned at uni into a 'real job'. As the only designer in my team, I was treated as an expert – it made me realise the value of the skills I have. I also loved my team and had the most supportive manager in the world.
The shift from being a student to working in an office environment can be an adjustment. What did you find the most challenging?
It would have to be juggling the opinions of a lot of different people and balancing these expectations in the resulting work produced. That, and not being around other designers.
When these placements come to a close, some of our interns go on to be employed by the same company, while others prefer to use the experience as a stepping-stone. Where do you see yourself heading career wise?
I really enjoyed my time at MBIE, however I also realised that working as a designer in the government sector is not where I want to be right now. I have since been hired at an agency here in Wellington and I'm loving it, but undoubtedly my work experience at MBIE helped me the land the new role.
Undertaking an internship might be viewed as a daunting prospect for inexperienced students. What advice would you give students and grads who are considering Open Lab’s internship opportunities?
Do it! Every bit of work experience that you can put on your CV and talk about in interviews really helps. Internships also help you figure out what you do and don't like, so you know what jobs to go for in the future.
Thanks for the interview Neve and all the best for the future!
Check out Neve's work at: