internship

 

If you’d asked me 12 months earlier, I’d have referred to myself as a “Designer.” I was knee-deep in my internship at The Second City, and loving every moment of zaniness it presented to me. I was also putting out branding suites for Harvard College Faith & Action, my own freelance shop, and preparing to take on a couple of wedding design gigs.

Then Disney happened.

Okay, I love being dramatic. I don’t mean, the Disney internship fell into my lap – I mean, I did actively pursue it. People I speak to regularly might even say that I was obsessed with getting it. So at some level, I knew even then that I wasn’t just a designer, since the gig that I really wanted (and ended up getting) was one in media relations & issues management, not in graphic design. The job description sounded challenging, which made me want it even more. So what changed?

I guess I knew that at some point, I had to diversify. Design has never been my only skill, although it was one I had the most fun with. I realized, however, that the projects I loved most continued to be the ones I could build and manage on my own. And then it became clear – I loved challenge. I loved planning and managing as much as I loved design. I was happiest in gigs that could stretch me and allow me to think strategically. This was an important realization for me, and one that allowed me to learn as much as I did at Disney. Because I felt like the skills I needed to succeed at this internship didn’t come as naturally – writing, for instance, and research – I knew I had to work twice as hard. I asked questions, read up extensively, and tried not to be daunted by expectations. And occasionally, I volunteered my design skills. I’d say that it is entirely to my team’s credit that they took a chance on someone whose latest job on their resume was a design one. I wonder what they saw in my application – I still wonder – but I couldn’t be more grateful.

“Because I felt like the skills I needed to succeed at this internship didn’t come as naturally – writing, for instance, and research – I knew I had to work twice as hard.”

And then I fell in love with it all – the thrill and gravity of managing important issues, the fast-paced nature of problem-solving in a business context, the exhilaration of being “on the ground.” The writing got easier, I gradually gained the trust of my team, and I found opportunities to put in my two cents. My strong software skills – the ones honed by years of graphic design – even made me a technical resource. At the same time, I saw how members of my team (they have, combined, more than 100 years of expertise) managed complex situations with confidence and ease. Proverbial teddy bear clutched to my chest, I wanted to be like them someday. 

I think I finally have some semblance of clarity: an understanding of visual communication, i.e. design, can only make me a more well-rounded communications professional. Those skills don’t run counter to my career; They serve to enhance it. The more tools I can put on the table for any future employer, the better off I will be.

So what do I call myself now? I don’t know. I still design. I also write. I have planning skills. I can’t ignore the fact that I will be a civil servant soon. I guess I’ll leave it open-ended for now. :)

 

This blog post was originally written for Northwestern University’s EPICS Blog.

Walt Disney famously said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” For me, picking up and leaving Evanston had been one of the most intimidating things I’d ever had to do. But doing it led to one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my life – interning for Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Team-Disney

Since I’ve been here, many of my friends have asked me what is like working for Disney. “For one, I never have to explain what the company does,” is what I usually say. In truth though, I’ve been having a blast. As part of the External Communications team, I’ve been actively engaged in writing, research, and content planning – all the things that make up a solid media relations internship.

But what’s made my time here truly one-of-a-kind has been the opportunity to be part of such an incredible variety of meaningful experiences: I’ve produced a video featuring Disney employees (here called Cast Members) talking about their moms. I’ve assisted in a live broadcast of Good Morning America. I’ve written a story that got picked up by a local TV channel about Princess Belle reading to preschoolers. I even helped build a neighborhood playground as a Disney VoluntEAR. And, as of earlier this month, I can officially count myself one of the first to ride Magic Kingdom’s highly anticipated newest attraction, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as part of an international press event attended by more than 250 media.

“The one thing that ties it all together is the desire to tell compelling stories with humor and heart. This… is the driving force of what Disney does.” 

I suppose the one thing that ties it all together is the desire to tell compelling stories with humor and heart. This principle is the driving force of what Disney does, and stems the legacy Walt himself left behind. For me, it meant learning early on how to write a press release or a Facebook post with an understanding of what moves people. Here, the power of a good story is never underestimated.

One last thing – I’ve found it amazing how easy it is to reach out to other Cast Members, despite the company’s sheer size. In fact, it is part of the corporate culture to allow for opportunities to meet other professionals, something I’ve seen people do with much enthusiasm. After all, the range of roles at Disney is so broad and diverse that there is great deal of interest in what others do. There is almost a sense of kinship in the way people within Disney regard each other – I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Ultimately, my time at Disney has been immensely energizing, and an unmatched experience. There is just so much to learn here, and the best part is, your work makes a real difference, both within the company and out in the community. I suppose it isn’t unexpected that Walt Disney himself said it best:

“Most of my life I have done what I wanted to do. I have had fun on the job.”

 

Posted by geneve in internship, thoughts Read More

Here’s a recent post from the Second City Network written by Andel Sudik and visually conceptualized by me. The blog post came to me as a regular list, but the Editor was looking for something they’d never before considered: incorporating artwork into the humor. I proposed a solution – what better way to say-something-without-saying-anything-at-all than with an infographic? See if you get any smarter after reading this one.

This was originally posted on The Second City Network.

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Two months at The Second City as of today! Again – I am so fortunate to be here, and it’s a great feeling knowing that you’re actually getting to do what you signed up for. For just being one company, the scope of work ArtCo takes on is astonishing. In the past 8 weeks, I have done some awesome things, some really cool things, and some downright hilarious things, but really gets me going is that every project is so different from the last. Here’s a breakdown of my highlights:

  • Web ads for SNL Stars Aidy Bryant, Tim Robinson & Cecily Strong
  • Title treatment for Second City’s Holiday Spectacular (Miracles Not Included) – felt Christmassy all week
  • Ultra badass superhero logos for a possible new series Hero Squad
  • Resurrected the Playwrights Theatre Club logo from a 50-year-old mailing brochure
  • Smoothed out countless actors’ uneven skin tones, VPLs, silhouettes and chin fat (oddly satisfying)
  • Sorted through head shots of every. single. alum. of The Second City – old photos of famous people!!
  • Built a spinning Super Mario gold coin from scratch (see it in action in Mario & Luigi In Therapy)
  • A totally hipster shark poster
  • Designed a business card for  bogus company ProfanovationsInc (“Taking You Beyond Fuck You”)
  • Slider cards saying “Your XBox Can’t Wait To See You Naked”, “Suburban Sex Party News”, and – to my horror – “How To Celebrate National Masturbation Month”, among others

Because I worked really hard on the Hero Squad stuff, and because it’s so different from the kind of work I usually do, but mostly because I adore superheroes, here’s some of the illustration I did for the series, without giving too much away:

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Official Hero Squad Title Treatment

 

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CANARY: Veteran hero, faints in the face of danger

 

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GEMINI: She can split in two, but so does her mental ability

 

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LOCK: Opens locks. Works part-time at Best Buy’s Geek Squad

 

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TANKED: Gets stronger the more he drinks. But also gets drunker.

 

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: Actually just Ben Franklin. Kidnapped from the past.


And  a poster I did today for a new Training Center class that I think qualifies as hipster:

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I really love that I get to use different styles on different projects. Will share some work again when more stuff comes my way. :)

Today – actually, late last night – I built my resume from scratch. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and something I admit I’ve been afraid to begin to do. Perhaps it is a symptom of my Northwestern education, but I’ve never even considered any other option aside from the Word-formatted, serif-fonted, power adjective-ridden resume I’ve seen in all the career counseling books. Don’t get me wrong: that has served me – and no doubt, a million other college kids – well, and is the standard for most industries, especially high-flying ones like banking and consulting that the bulk of NU kids apply to.

But then I started looking at resumes for creatives. And boy were they a whole different ballgame. As I found more and more (you can find my favorite ones pinned here on my Pinterest board), I realized that for a designer, a resume represents not only a written summary of one’s experiences and credentials, but is also an excellent gauge of his or her creative judgment. By this I don’t mean the ability of a designer to make his or hers the most beautiful resume around, but his or her ability to to solve the one problem of anyone trying to cram their life’s work into one sheet of paper: How can I best represent myself with this little space?! And so a designer’s resume is, fundamentally, both form and function, content and formatting. What’s the best page layout to use that will be aesthetically pleasing as well as read smoothly? What font is best to convey personality as well as make text readable? What visual symbols – icons, if you will – can I use to indicate that this is an e-mail address without actually saying it?

And so I opened InDesign and set about re-working my resume from scratch, incorporating elements from the fromthisdesk.com brand structure. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t go to crazy with the design, but also wanted to step it up from my old, boring formatting. Here is my before-and-after:

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Same content, totally different style. I’m happy with the result for now, but I’ll still have to test-run and refine it. It’s tiring but exciting to realize that a resume is always a work-in-progress, and so I expect I’ll be coming back to this before I know it and changing it up once again. But for now, it’s good. You can see the full version of my new resume here.

I just wanted to do a short post updating everyone on what I’ve been doing away from fromthisdesk.com. As some of you may be aware, I am so lucky to be doing an internship with The Second City, arguably North America’s most well-known improv group. Their list of alums reads like a who’s who of comedy… I may or may not have lifted that phrase from their website.

Working at The Second City is a real breath of fresh air because I can actually see that my work matters. Not that my previous internship experiences have been fruitless, of course – the impact of my contributions perhaps just less immediate. Here, I can design a slider card for their website and see it on the web in a matter of hours. That said, I’m working mostly with the Second City Network, their online comedy arm, so the topical nature of the content necessitates that everything moves quick – including design. I’m also slowly learning the ropes of the Art Department’s online client request system, which is infinitely useful for the avalanche of projects we receive on a daily basis.

I’ve been here 2 weeks and I’m pretty psyched at what I’ve been allowed to do so far. Here’s a small selection (warning – bold humor up ahead):

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(Btw I also get to do spoofy things like fake Craigslist posts – click on the pic above)

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Also check out SCN’s Facebook page – I designed their current cover photo! And the Network promo slider on secondcity.com. Times like these I’m still amazed that people would let a college kid anywhere near their websites. Oh well. Not complaining. Excited to do more.

Til next time! :)