Joana’s recipe for an all-inclusive internship

Joanna Intern experience

Internships are like a big potluck lunch. Everyone has their own delicious dish they can share, and you get to not only eat a bit of everything but also bring the recipe home.

I was a design intern at the Berlin office of Edenspiekermann. I wanted to learn more about interaction design and here I did just that while I worked on many projects and saw the results of my work on the final product. Sweet!

However, what was really great about this internship was that I got to explore things other than design. I was interested in frontend development and how it is done in a professional environment, and I should say in the interest of full disclosure that I know HTML and CSS, but I was not comfortable at all with Javascript. I still told my mentor and Project Manager Drew that it would be a “nice to have” experience and then I forgot about it because I didn't think there would be an opportunity.

I was wrong!

It turns out Edenspiekermann is pretty open to letting people try new things and explore different areas of work, and Drew found me that opportunity. I was put on the Helios project, got my introduction to GitHub (🧐) and using the terminal (🤓). Pretty soon I was building new components and page templates, also banging my head on the table every once in a while. I had the full support from the Helios team, especially Moritz (Creative Director) and Dimitri (Senior Frontend Developer) who patiently sat next to me and made sure I understood what was happening and why. And hey, now I can say there are a few lines of code somewhere that I wrote myself!

Being able to participate in projects in so many different ways made my traineeship a much richer learning experience, and I now have a more diverse recipe book with chocolate sprinkles on top. So I'll leave a few pieces of advice that I tried to live by during the last six months:

Tell people about your goals, even if they don't fit your internship description

If you are vocal about your goals, they are also taken into account when finding a project that fits you. So you really just need to say "Hey, I want to do this kind of thing"! Chances are there will be something you can help with.

Try to figure things out yourself first...

I have also been learning German and the process is very similar in a way – you will never get the hang of it unless you try to speak it. Sure, Javascript is not as forgiving as the person behind the counter at your local späti, but there are loads of resources online where you can find some direction. It never hurts to look for all available information before you make a decision and try to write it yourself.

... but don't be afraid to ask questions!

Yes, you have been taught how to push your changes to GitHub three times but there's an error and you're scared - ask again! It's easy to be afraid of expectations when you are an inexperienced intern, but the truth is that no one expects you to be a pro, especially if you're doing something for the first time.

It is also super important to talk with other people. Go around the office, check out what other people are doing, ask for feedback, pick everyone's brain! You have unlimited access to the knowledge of many highly competent people so don't let it go to waste.

Lastly, have fun!

You have been looking at that screen for hours. Take a break, have some chocolate and play some ping pong!