Rejoice! Summer is coming. Though some see summer’s arrival as grilling every meal and attending countless festivals, it is also a time when internships crop up across the country like all those people who now inhabit the beach. Now’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on my summer/fall design internship at Clique Studios. (I happily joined the team full-time in December).

I promise this isn’t going to be one of those feel good posts about how the Clique internship “isn’t about getting coffee,” (though sometimes I did in fact make the coffee­—more on that later) or picking up my boss’ drycleaning. It’s about how I was given the opportunity to get my hands on real projects for real, yes real, clients.

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Doing real world work at Clique is a huge draw.

Like I said in the introduction, Clique had me do real work. It’s so much more than having mini assignments or doing the grunt work that nobody else on the team wants to do. Getting to sink or swim (or having full ownership) on a project really gives you the experience to carry on and do great work. It allows you to be accountable for your work.

You have to make sure the culture fit is right.

Having the same or similar ethos in a work environment goes a long way in creating great work. Going the extra mile helps. Take out the trash. Make the coffee and ask your boss if you can top off their coffee (I’m not ashamed to admit I did this, and I still do). When everyone pitches in, it creates a sense of community and a culture that people will be envious of.

“Make something I’ll hate.”

This is a line, made famous to me by our co-founder Derek, that really stuck with me. It means push yourself past your comfort zone and get reactions out of people. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try something new. This is how you break out of ruts and how to make a portfolio that doesn’t look like you used the same WordPress theme for every project. Don’t settle for the “Good” when the “Great” is out there.

You begin to hate slow periods.

Real world timelines are a lot different than those you have whilst you’re still in school. It’s this sped up process which forces you to be a time management ninja. When you have multiple projects all competing for your attention, you have no other choice but to be efficient. That said, there will inevitably be some down times. It’s imperative to raise your hand and help out your fellow coworkers when you can. You might be light, but your fellow designer might be drowning–which really isn’t good for anyone.

Be an entrepreneur.

Continue to learn. If the rarest of instances happens where you’ve got nothing on your plate, and the other designers can’t push anything your way, make sure you’re staying plugged into the design world. Get inspired by going through sites like Awwwards, Site InspireDribbble, etc. Keep up to date on industry trends so you can use them (or avoid them!). If development is something which interests you, give some coding a go.

Your internship is a time to explore, hone your craft, and ultimately succeed.

If not, we’ve got your back.

If you want to know more or are interested in a design internship here at Clique Studios yourself, hit me up on Twitter @agolownia or reach out to the team through our contact form!