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Toronto-based boutique agency specializing in web design and development, identity and print design.
Jul 17

9 Things I learned as an Intern

During my internship at Mouth Media I found everyone to be incredibly warm and welcoming. The office has this really great friendly atmosphere and everyone is incredibly funny. I don’t think one day went by without me almost spitting water on my keyboard because of a joke. All of this, combined with the amazing skill that everyone posses, just leads to what a truly fantastic company that Jason has created and what the entire Mouth Media team continues to cultivate. It’s a company that I can say that I am proud to be a part of and hope to continue being a part of in the future.

1. Do not be afraid to ask questions (good questions).

When I say good questions, I mean make the effort to answer the question yourself first – of course. Google it, check documents and your emails and really give it the ol’ college try. If you still can’t find the answer then just ask the question. Often it takes your boss/ mentor two seconds to answer and since everyone wants work to go as quickly as possible it’s usually no problem. Also, don’t spend all day looking for the answer – but a fair effort shows that independence.

2. Be Bold. Suggest ideas, speak out, join the conversation.

Seriously, if you’ve got an idea they want to hear it. You’re there to help them out, and a lot of time an intern can bring fresh ideas to the project. Also don’t be afraid to take a couple risks in your design work, it can pay off in the end.

3. You can learn a lot by just being there.

Sitting in silently on meetings, or listening in on conference calls gives you the inside scoop to how these dealings actually go. Even if you have no input in a meeting, you can learn something. And if you really think anything is worthwhile to mention to your boss, say it. They’ll be impressed you paid such detailed attention, and maybe your suggestion can be used to enhance the client’s experience.

4. Check it twice, then check it three more times.

The one thing I know that Greg has mentioned to me a couple times is that I tend to be a bit hasty with projects. I know this about myself, and so hearing it made me really take it into account. I still tend to do things quickly, but give them the  once over – and then check again – before sending it along.

5. Write it down.

Another amazing thing that I love about Mouth Media, is their use of lists! I have always been a major list person, and I was thrilled to realize that everyone here works from one big Google doc list. It keeps everything organized, lets you plan out your day, and the shared document allows you to see what everyone else is doing too (Another habit I’ve gotten into is making a busy list. This is a list I keep of tasks that I don’t have time to do in the immediate, but that I plan on doing when there is a lull in business.)

6. Learning how to talk to clients is a MAJOR skill.

It takes a special kind of person to talk to 20 different clients in one day. Pay attention to the people handling the accounts (in my case it was Greg and Jason). There’s a way to bring up unsavoury subjects like budget, invoices, missed payments etc. and the only way you can learn how is to listen.

Additionally you’ll find that clients speak a different ‘language’ most of the time. Figuring out how to get specific feedback about processes, timelines and design is an art. The only thing you can do is practice, and if you’re ever unsure of how to phrase something just ask your mentor, that’s what they’re there for.

7. Don’t take it personally, kid.

The one thing you’ve got to be in this field is fluid. You’ll see projects that you’ve worked on for weeks get shot down, you’ll see amazing projects that you think are the most brilliant things you’ve ever seen get dismissed with an idle wave of a hand. Get over it, have backup plans B-Z always and don’t take it to heart. Yes, what you create is a reflection of yourself, but it is more important to do something that the client likes. After all – the customer is always right.

8. Find ways to improve their business.

It can be as small as staying on top of web trends, new marketing ideas and local events. Share the good stuff with the office. They’ll be impressed that you are taking the time to do the research – because most of the time they’re so busy with day-to-day business stuff, they don’t have the chance to.

A major goal of mine for Mouth Media is to expand their social media presence. I keep track of what is going on in the design world, and together Greg and I have come up with a fairly comprehensive social media plan for Mouth Media. The more I get into it, the more I learn, and the more I see social media as this really amazing tool that we can use to attract new clients, agency work and other design enthusiasts.

9. Have a good time.

Interning in the summer is ideal, I got the chance to talk with my co-workers about work, their life, their careers and more. It is always really interesting to learn about the experiences of someone else in your field. Letting your personality out is a big deal – being friendly and likeable will increase their chances of them wanting to keep you within the company.