How Wray Ward’s Summer Internship FORMed Me into a Designer

  • Categories:

    Agency Life, Creative, Inspiration

  • Date:

    October 5, 2021

How Wray Ward’s Summer Internship FORMed Me into a Designer

Agency Life Creative Inspiration

If you’re a student, maybe you know the struggle well: You’ve picked a major and spent endless hours sitting through seminars, cranking out research papers and studying for exams, only to realize you still have no clue what to do with all of your newly formed, specialized knowledge. Transitioning from college student to real-world worker is tough enough, but what if you’re not even sure you want to work within your field of study?

Wray Ward’s own Marina Gianakopoulos found herself wandering down this path. About one year ago, Marina was a dissatisfied University of Virginia architecture student in need of a trajectory change. Despite uncertainty and even doubt, she boldly transitioned from what she had studied in school to a related field that had always interested her more: UX design.

Today, Marina is a full-time junior digital production designer at Wray Ward. She credits the agency’s FORM summer internship program for giving her the crash course she needed to jump-start her dream career. Keep reading to learn how her skills and confidence grew during her experience with Wray Ward’s 2021 FORM internship class, ultimately resulting in a creative and inspiring job she can be truly passionate about.

Q: Why did you apply for the FORM internship?

When I was looking for postgrad internships, I knew I wanted something that focused more on the design aspects I most enjoyed from my architecture coursework. I had researched user experience and design and determined that path would be a good fit for me. When I saw that FORM offered a design role and that the agency worked with brands in the home and building category, it seemed like the perfect match for somebody with my background. I was able to really sell myself in the cover letter, not because I had the most impressive UX design portfolio but because my studies in architecture made me familiar with Wray Ward’s clients and the general building industry.

Q: What was your initial impression of the internship? Did that impression change over the course of the summer?

Having an in-person internship with other students my age was very important to me, so I was confident going in that I had made the right decision.

Throughout the first week, our FORM team had a lot of onboarding seminars and introductions to various departments of the agency, leaving me to believe that the internship would be mainly learn-by-observation. However, that impression quickly changed once we were handed our own client brief. I was not expecting our team to have full responsibility over a client project, but it turned out that we were going to be producing a lot of real work ourselves, not just sitting on the sidelines.

Q: What is one lesson you learned working among other creative professionals day to day?

The biggest lesson I learned about design is that it is a very iterative process. Sometimes the end product looks extremely different from what you started with, and it’s important not to get too personally attached to your work. There will always be a different perspective that could improve your design. At the end of the day, the direction of the artwork is up to the client, so providing many options off the bat is crucial to nailing down the perfect design.

Q: At the end of the FORM internship, the team had the opportunity to present its plan to a real client. What was that experience like, and what did you learn from it?

It was unique to work together on a project that we all took full responsibility for. Previously, I had interned in architecture offices where everybody had the same background, so being able to collaborate on all the areas of our deliverables was different in a good way.

Working with a real client presented real challenges, such as timeline changes and the rush to put the pieces together at the end of the program, but overall, the payoff felt amazing.

Q: How did FORM prepare you for working full time at an agency?

I think FORM prepares you for the reality of agency life. Working with a real client teaches you to work quickly, meet deadlines and be flexible. Working on a team with experts in different fields gives you communication and collaboration skills to get the job done.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Wray Ward?

Wray Ward is such a creative and inspiring environment. I’m constantly learning from those around me, as my coworkers are all very friendly and willing to help out. However, my favorite part about working here is the diversity of projects. Since being hired full time, I’ve been able to work with multiple clients and produce many different kinds of designs. I’m even starting to take the lead on projects myself, meaning designs that I concepted are out there in the world for people to see!

Q: What would you say to students interested in applying for FORM?

Apply, 100%. You’ll get work experience from any internship, but not all internships will allow you to take on an entire client project and take on the level of responsibility that FORM gives you. Good luck!

Are you interested in paving your own path with an internship at Wray Ward? Applications for our 2022 FORM class open December 1. Learn more and be sure to apply before January 21, 2022.

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