I graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Visual Communication in 2012. Since then I’ve worked as an intern for a couple of companies including winter clothing company Howies, and independent retailer Lazy Oaf. Interning at Howies was really varied and enjoyable. During my time there I assisted in some design tasks, visited a wool museum, and even helped out in the print room. It was great to meet people and see the various roles within the company, as well as getting a taste of working in an office. I currently work for Lazy Oaf, and here I have a varied workload. I enjoy the demands of the business and the tasks it presents. I also feel really privileged to work with such a lovely, hard-working team.
Interning is a really great way to get an insight into how a company works from the ground up. I suppose the experience varies company to company but my internship experiences have always been massively positive. I find that although you have been brought in to do tasks, as well as help everyone else in the team where you can, it’s also a great opportunity to show what you can do and what you can add to the company. Working as an intern is as busy a job as you make it, and if you want to make an impact you need to put the effort in. Whilst interning, I’ve presented illustration ideas, which have then been used and featured on products and across social media platforms. Seeing your work in the flesh brings a great thrill, as well as being the perfect addition to a portfolio.
In an industry with a lot of competition, such as the creative sector, you have to show that you are indispensable. You have to do your best to make the lives of everyone in the office around you that little bit easier, so they can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re taking care of the tasks given to you. Four hands are better than two, and it’s a great feeling to help get something done.
I have absolutely loved my internships so far. Every week is different and you really begin to discover your strengths through everything you do. A typical day for me at Lazy Oaf is to get in at 10am and check my emails and online orders. I then pick and pack orders, which usually takes me up to lunch. From there I could be doing anything; helping to pick orders for wholesale, working on an illustration project, or even helping prepare for an event. That said, it changes every day; which is fine by me, variety is the spice of life after all!
Seeing behind the scenes of different careers that I wouldn’t have known, or perhaps even considered before, has really helped me, as well as giving me a better knowledge of the industry as a whole. It’s also been interesting to talk to people within companies on a personal level, to see how they got their role, what they enjoy about it, and what they do on a day-to-day basis.
There’s no formula when it comes to internships, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and you being the right person for that company. The people that make it in competitive industries such as illustration and design, are the ones that keep trying and aren’t deterred by rejection or difficult situations. It took me months of working in a sandwich shop, counting the pennies and applying for jobs at every chance I got before I started to get anywhere. It’s not easy, but when you get a step closer to your dreams, it’s so, so rewarding.
If you’re going to spend most of your life working, it’s vital to make sure you’ll be doing something you love!
This post was written by Katie Bennett, illustrator and founding member of Coffee Club; an illustration collective who this year have financed an almanac and exhibited and sold across the UK, most notably at Pick Me Up, Somerset House in London. The Almanac is currently stocked by Gosh Comics amongst other retailers. You can see more of Katie’s work on her portfolio site supermegalovely.com.