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 installment of our interview series catching up with our interns where they share their thoughts, feedback, and overall experience.
Meet Alesha, who has recently completed her internship as a Graphic Designer at MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries).
Hi Alesha! So I’d like to begin by asking how you heard about the internship?
Through Open Lab – I was lucky enough to have my name put forward for an internship that linked well with my major project.
Interns can cover a wide range of tasks, depending on the business need at the time of placement. What did your internship involve?
I was helping out with one project in particular and majority research and interviews had been done at that point. I worked alongside the other service designers and looked at precedence, invited to interviews where we gained a lot of insights, prototyping from its earliest stages to exploring this digitally just before my internship finished.
How did you find working within this environment?
The process moved quick and I found it difficult when company terminology was being used. However, I was given a lot of creative freedom with the project I was working on making it easier to come up with radical ideas and prototype faster.
Our goal with placements is to help students gain industry experience. Do you think your internship helped you grow as a designer?
Yes of course! Having experience in a government environment helped me to get a full-time contract after Uni had wrapped up. You learn more about an organisation, their processes and then communicating this information to the general public/target audience
Open Lab aims to create a smooth transition for students into the internship workplace. Did you find the process easy and stress-free?
Yes, it involves being prepared in terms of CV and portfolio but as long as those are sorted it makes the interview process easier. Communication is important too, ask questions!!!
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?
Yes, with some questions I had I felt more comfortable talking to Open Lab. Check-ins are nice so you don’t feel like you’ve been left on your own.
With such variation in the organisations that approach us for interns, every internship is unique. What was the best part about your internship role?
Being able to utilise the research and insights and apply these to my major project (with permission of course!) I also enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the work – we contacted different organisations for interviews and then among the team as well.
The shift from being a student to working in an office environment can be an adjustment. What did you find the most challenging?
Sticking to a 9–5 timeframe that included doing projects, interviews and research. I was (and still kind of am) used to taking work home if I didn’t get it finished at Uni. However, I found that it’s extremely beneficial to make a timeline that works within a 5 day week and the 9–5 timeframe so that projects or meetings are complete on time.
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?
At the moment I am a Digital Designer in the Food and Beverage group at MPI and although I did intern with them earlier this year, I am in a different department and have a different role. I absolutely love it as my job involves publication design and illustration so I’m able to use different skill sets and develop them further too. Taking government documents and turning them into information that is easy to digest is one satisfying aspect of the job.
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?
Go for it!! You have so many more outlets at your fingertips. Expressing interest shows your enthusiasm and talking passionately about the work you’ve produced can help immensely.
Thanks for the interview Alesha and all the best for the future!
Check out Alesha's work at: