Internship 101

June 12, 2013 / Culture

Hand crafted illustration

While en route to my first day of my five-month internship at ecentricarts I received a tweet from the Creative Director, Linda Nakanishi that said, “Excited to have @CassKaiser interning here at @ecentricarts #noFetchingCoffeeHere”. Her mention of not having to fetch coffee was correct! My internship involved working on real projects, dealing with real clients and tackling real design challenges. Not one coffee order!

My time at eca taught me a lot about the industry, about office life and about myself as a designer. I was able to overcome my fear of presenting to a client, improve my design skills considerably and learn about the intricacies of creating user-friendly, accessible and beautiful websites. I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by such immensely talented people who patiently answered my (many) questions, offered me constructive feedback, helped me adjust to this new environment and made me excited to come to work each day.

I’ve compiled a list of five things I learned during my five-month internship at ecentricarts. It was difficult to pare it down to such a short list but I selected those I found had the most impact on me:


An internship is a great opportunity to grow and learn

It is important to enter your internship with an open mind and willingness to learn. If you approach the opportunity bearing those things in mind you will not only have an easier time adapting to the new environment but also find the experience more enriching. As an intern at eca I was lucky enough to be assigned to work on client projects. Having the opportunity to work on client projects allowed me to learn about the cycle of a project and what roles the project manager, designer and developers all played. I learned how to interact with clients, work on a team and work towards a deadline. Whether you are working on client work or internal work for the company you are interning for, if you approach your internship with a positive and eager attitude you will prosper from the experience.


Company culture is an important factor in driving innovation

When looking for a place to intern or a place to work it is important that the company culture is the right fit for you. I learned at eca that a great work culture helps people deliver their best work and promotes innovation. Creating and nurturing a strong company culture is important because when a team shares the values of that culture it creates a positive environment that people want to be a part of. One thing that I really appreciated were the ladies lunches at eca that encouraged the women in the office to step outside the workplace and get to know one another through a casual lunch. This time was invaluable to me because it allowed me (and still does!) to better acquaint myself with the people I work with and form a relationship with them that goes beyond the office. When the company culture is the right fit for you, you will enjoy coming to work each day and put your best foot forward.


PM, QA, eca…The industry lingo

Every industry has its own unique vocabulary and seems to abbreviate that vocabulary into its own unique set of acronyms. At the beginning of my internship I realized I would have to learn a new lingo that my coworkers were using! PM, QA, eca were all new terms to me but before I knew it I was using them too! I quickly learned that these abbreviations added clarity and efficiency to our communication within the company.


The greater the transparency, the greater the trust

Transparency is a large part of the ecentricarts culture. At ecentricarts, transparency is about being open and honest in all communications, transactions and operations. I learned that success in this industry is determined by the ability to deliver outstanding products and services that impress and delight the client. The ability to succeed relies greatly upon a high degree of trust between the client and the company and this trusting relationship begins with transparency. The greater the transparency, the greater the trust!


Time is golden

Time is a very important commodity and when you’re working towards a deadline it is valuable to be conscious of how efficiently you are using your time. My desk neighbour, Michelle Claessans who is a designer at ecentricarts (and quite possibly the most organized person I’ve met!) taught me many useful tips for being productive at work. When you’re managing your time well it allows you to get more done in less time, produce more quality work, prioritize your work and keeps you on track.

My time as an ecentricarts intern was a very rewarding experience and it prepared me to enter the workforce with confidence and enthusiasm. If I could offer a piece of advice for future interns it would be to approach their internship with a proactive attitude and take as many opportunities that are handed their way. At the end of my internship I was offered the opportunity to join the eca team as a junior designer. I’m really looking forward to my new role and am excited to be part of one of Canada’s fastest growing companies!