Thoughts from a Design Intern in a Development Firm

I didn’t know what Ruby or Rails was, and I’d never heard of GitHub. I never watched Game of Thrones and I wasn’t a fan of Top Gear. And my bike doesn’t have a motor or more than one speed. Nevertheless, I spent my summer as the design intern at Software for Good.

Going into this internship I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. All of my classmates interned with print-heavy design firms, so I was the first to work at a digital firm. Well, six months have passed, and today is my last day here at SfG. So I thought I would share a little bit about my experience.

I learned a lot of what I hoped to and expected to. I learned small tips for Photoshop, the kind you pick up from working with new people; everyone has their own set of neat tricks and cheats. I learned how to design with both desktop and mobile in mind. This may seem small, but it used to seem like a daunting task to create something that can benefit both devices, and now it’s like second nature. And I learned simple things like how to name and nest your files so you can find everything easily, as well as how to set up your Photoshop files so someone else, probably a developer, won’t want to kill you when they try to navigate your PSD.

However, there’s a lot of stuff I learned that was completely unexpected.

I’m a person, not a number. People have dogs who need to go to the vet, children who get the flu, children who give them the flu, grandmas who need a ride to the doctor. We lock our keys in the car, our babysitters bail, and our grandparents die. I never felt penalized when life got in the way of work here at SfG, and I don’t think anyone else did either.

I don’t need to work somewhere where everyone lives and breathes design. Throughout college that’s where I thought I belonged, but I was so very wrong. That’s not what it’s like here. Here everyone loves what they do, but they have lives outside of work and are passionate about something else in addition to their job. Jamey can talk your face off about space. Erik #1 has chickens. Kevin really likes beer, good beer. Saying Andy loves motorcycles might be an understatement. Kyle longboards like a champ. Shannon has some mad hand-lettering skills. Sara really loves books. Peter has a serious Hawaiian shirt collection. And Brad just really loves Rebecca Black’s Friday.

I also learned some minor but life-changing things in my time here. Joe made me realize why having my own server is something I need in my life. Eric #2 taught me that if something you want doesn’t exist, you should make it. Being the youngest one in the office means half the time you don’t know what anyone is talking about. Being the youngest one in the office also means you have the benefit of making everyone feel old, and who doesn’t love free entertainment? Ryan taught me, and Joe confirmed, that developers love it when you design with them in mind. And Kevin taught me that it’s okay to ask questions about things I don’t understand (which is basically everything they do). And Sara inspired me to go back to school for development.

So, I now have a basic understanding of Ruby as well as Rails, but there’s still room for learning. I’ve become incredibly familiar with GitHub, but I don’t like the Octocat. And I’m wrapping up season two of Game of Thrones; I want to be Daenerys’ best friend and Joffrey can suck it. However, my lack of love for Top Gear has not changed, I’ll probably never own a motorcycle, and I like my one-speed cruiser bike. I am, however, currently shopping for the perfect wicker basket to go on the front.

I don’t know what’s next; but going back to school for web development has been tossed around a lot. If you wanna keep up with me as I leave the intern nest, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @iamlizlewis, or shoot me an email at iamlizlewis@gmail.com.