So I’ve just started my placement year at uni where I can take a year out and explore the graphic design industry. I have to do at least 6 months worth of internships in order to gain the Diploma in Professional studies. Up until the the 26th September, finding an internship was basically an endless pit of nothingness, full of my sent ‘please hire me’ emails and nothing in return except the odd rejection email. I felt disheartened, rejected and useless, everything I’d hoped the placement year wouldn’t be.
I received an email from Sarah ( our course leader) about DK needing some help with a book fair, I was quite nervous about delving straight into graphic design so I felt that helping out with a book fair would be a nice way to introduce myself to working in an office environment. I knew I had to get on with it because I’d had no luck with anything else so I told myself anything positive to get myself back on the right track.
One thing that always makes me nervous about starting an internship is that I’m not a fully graduated designer, I find that all my worries overcloud my better judgement and all of a sudden I’ve got no idea how to even turn my mac on because I’m so nervous.
Luckily for me, this particular internship was more manual labour and there was a large group of us all from my uni doing the same course. Even though I still didn’t know anyone at first, it filled me with delight knowing that we were all from the same uni and all had the same worries.
The main office is at 80 Strand, a huge building filled with all sorts companies and a tonne of business men and women gliding through the revolving doors. I entered through to the Penguin Books reception (DK is part of Penguin) where I saw a bunch of students that were there for the same reason as me, I let out a huge sigh of relief that I’d made it on time and joined them on the sofa where I began to ask the others questions about the dreaded placement year. We all at least had something in common – the fact that our placement year wasn’t quite working out so far, it made for a much less boring introductory conversation and made me feel much less of a failure.
After going through a standard tour of the office and getting security passes to gain access to the building, we met the main people we’d be working with each day and discussed the Frankfurt Book Fair in greater detail. Our job was to to prepare material covering a varied range of titles to show at the book fairs. This involved printing out existing spread and jacket designs, carefully trimming (with scalpels) and fitting them into blank book dummies. It wasn’t the most exciting job, and I never knew I could get so stressed over a book, but it was a first internship working in an office, and that was all that mattered to me.
I spent a solid 3 weeks cutting things wrong, re-cutting, sticking pages wrong, and re-sticking, but weirdly, I enjoyed it. I loved the office atmosphere, I made really great friends with a girl who’d laugh at everything I’d laugh at and document our time there through snapchat. I ate a serious amount of biscuits and drunk a serious amount of tea. I was even ill and went through around 4 boxes of tissues, but I somehow managed to laugh my way through it and just get on with it. The actual job was hideously hideous and so not what I want to be doing with the rest of my life, but the working environment was completely up my street, I loved walking though the office and being able to see the dozens of computer screens being used to design new spreads for the books. I was working the full 7 days a week, 5 days at this job and 2 at my weekend job to pay for rent, I think, I didn‘t mind because I had purpose again, I was doing something near-ish in the area that I eventually want to end up in, and that was enough for me to be happy.
Throughout my time at DK, I not only made a new friend (who I’m always snapchatting) but I also started quite an extensive book collection. Each day we worked, we were allowed to take home 2 free books from the library, which was another perk that thoroughly made my time there. Overall, I collected 22 books, each of which I plan on reading on my commutes to all my future internships. I definitely don’t think I’ll be making a career in cutting and sticking books but needless to say I needed that push of motivation from that bustling office environment.
I really want to continue working in big offices similar to DK, onwards and upwards!