As I was approaching my graduation from design school, I knew that for every design skill and theory I picked up in the classroom, there was so much more that I could only learn through experience. So I was thrilled to be offered a summer internship at Noise 13. Of the design studios in the SF Bay Area, I was particularly compelled by their aesthetic and voice, which seemed the most real and relatable.
I was also pretty nervous—what if I wasn’t good enough? What if all of my ideas were bad, actually? Do these thoughts sound familiar to anyone out there? It can be intimidating to start something new, but I have found that the only cure is to dive right in. With a lot of excitement and a little anxiety, I joined the team at Noise 13.
That was a big question I needed to answer for myself before beginning my search for a full time job, and through my internship I was able to find out. As an intern, I had opportunities to work on several internal projects with some production for client work thrown into the mix. However, being present for the day-to-day work, participating in the group critiques, and seeing the amazing work other designers were creating was just as instructive. It really was humbling to work alongside so many talented and experienced designers. I could see that there was so much further I had yet to go, and was inspired by how much further I could go if I continued to learn and develop my skills.
Over that summer I faced and overcame a lot of new challenges. I planned a case study photo shoot for the first time. I had never set up and framed a shoot before, and that experience opened the door to thinking of photography in a much more nuanced and detailed way. I had never designed a case study before either, and now I’ve confidently designed a number of them. I had never prepped files for print production, and now I use the principles I learned every time I hand off a file to a developer or another designer.
I most enjoyed working on fun graphics and promotions for the studio and their annual design seminar Invisible Talks, but even smaller tasks, such as working on ad production for the local food festival Eat Drink SF, were valuable, because learning to work within a system and find interest in little details is so often the primary work of a designer. It was also the first time I got to see the ads and signs that I worked on exist in the real world outside of my computer screen and classroom. I felt like I was becoming a designer, and not just a design student.
Because the team is small, every member, even an intern, has opportunities to be heard and to contribute. The entire studio will gather to discuss work as a team, or take an hour to do an arts and crafts project during creative flow. These practices reinforce an idea that seems so simple, yet is easy to forget when you spend your days in front of a screen—that hearing different viewpoints, exploring diverse interests, and creating things with your hands just for fun can enrich the design process and feed into what we bring to our work as designers.
When I look back on my internship at Noise13, I think of the technical skills I learned (and I learned a lot), the projects I worked on, and of course, the fun team lunches and creative flow sessions. I also think about how far I‘ve come since then. Many of the things that seemed a little intimidating at first are now just part of my everyday job as a designer. We all have to start somewhere, and I’m proud to say that I got my start at Noise 13.