Through luck or curse, I got an intern at work. I’m not really sure how, but I’ll give credit to Human Resources for keeping my name high on their list when a random multimedia student came across their desk looking for work. I don’t really consider myself manager material and really don’t desire to be responsible for people…yet…but having an intern is great practice for when that day comes.
The biggest surprise is that I actually have enough work to keep an intern busy! Despite all the games and fun I have at the office, most of the time does go towards business goals. One thing I promised myself when I agreed to take on the intern was to give him real work. I’ve seen too many interns fly through the office that end up not learning anything to help them on their way into a career. There’s just too much data entry, making copies, standing and smiling, etc…all of which is honestly part of the real job they’re interning for, but in the end they have nothing to show for it besides a line on their resume.
Of course, working in web design you will always have something to show in the end. Whether it’s any good or not is the trick. And so far I’m pretty impressed with Mr. Intern. He has a good eye for design. He’s a little rough around the edges when it comes to executing a final product, but hey, he’s an intern. That’s the hardest thing for me to keep in mind – he’s an intern that has no previous design experience – but that also makes his mind somewhat ripe for molding (hehehe). He’ll be with me until December, at which point he’s responsible for a full site redesign that will actually get used (no throw away work here). That site is one I’m not personally proud of, so I’m glad it’s getting a fresh pair of eyes. It’s also the first time I’ve ever had any design “partner” as it were, so this whole idea of delegation and “teamwork” is somewhat foreign to me, but I’m liking it so far.
One reason I don’t see myself as a decent manager is I have doubts in my ability to teach. Since I was never formally taught any of my graphic design skills, I don’t really know a good way to teach it. I learned by trial-and-error, so I see myself as a Q&A resource for the intern, not a lecture resource. If you just come up and say, “teach me design,” I can’t do it. But come to me with an honest question and I’ll do my best to give you the answers and tools to help solve your problem. I try not to give you the answer or do the work for you (my elementary art teacher did enough of that). Sometimes I think that pisses people off (at least the lazy ones), but I think that’s the only way people gain any valuable knowledge.
You might say design can’t be marked as “good” or “bad,” but let me tell you that when it comes to web design, graphic design, and logo design, there is a such thing as bad. Design is all about communicating and if the product/site doesn’t communicate well to the customer then it is a failure. But web design is about a bunch of parts working together, so there are places where design can suffer in favor of other things.
I’ve only had this intern about a week, but it’s at a point where he doesn’t have to ask what to do each day. He can just come in, sit, and work. If he has questions, he asks and he listens to my suggestions…I can’t ask for much more than that. I try to be a nice and positive as possible, but let’s face it, the real world of commercial design is all about someone being unhappy with what you make. Unfortunately you’re a slave to the client, thus making the most important skill to learn is how to convince your client why your design decisions are correct…and even then, you’re usually wrong. Welcome to the real world, dude.