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Project Diaries: Steven’s Graphic Design Internships


Written by
Steven O’Neil
Published date
28 March 2018

Emerging new designer Steven O’Neil talks about the value of internships and how working for a company differed from responding to briefs at university.

Internships are short-term opportunities that you can apply for whilst you’re at university or after you graduate. Aswell as being a great way to gain experience of a particular creative industry, many internships these days are paid opportunities.

When you get to university your tutors will be able to guide you as to the type of company or studio that might suit your skills, alongside careers & employability teams.

My internships whilst at university

a screenshot from the 'wired magazine' website homepage
TEMPLO was one of the first agencies Steven interned with.

The work ethic I developed in my first year studying graphic design enabled me to curate a body of work worthy enough to gain an internship at Rose and take those first crucial steps into industry. I returned to Rose again in 2016 and after my second year, I also completed an internship at Bond & Coyne.

During my third and final year at university, I managed to squeeze in two extra internships to help boost my experience and meet new creatives in industry. The first being on (Partner) Harry Pearce’s team at Pentagram, and the second being with Pali Palavathanan, founder of TEMPLO.

Contributing to projects and taking responsibility

a profile studio shot of a person, with the text 'live. make. keep creating'
Steven was involved in design of TEMPLO’s ‘#KeepCreating’ campaign for Plymouth College of Art.

Each and every design agency provided different opportunities for me. From print to web and branding to animation, these internships gave me a chance to work collaboratively on a range of projects and clients. Just to name a few, I’ve contributed work towards projects for the National History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Kingston School of Art, Tesco, Berry Bros. & Rudd, John Lewis and others too recent to share.

As you grow as a designer you will naturally be given more responsibility. The projects I have worked on at these various design agencies are heavily collaborative but I’ve come to learn that this is a necessity in my design practice now—being able to work closely with others to play to each of our strengths and weaknesses.

Preparation for working in the design industry

Video: Bond & Coyne was another studio Steven interned with. Explore their range of work through the company's showreel.

Working in a design agency for the first time can be a bit of a shock. You suddenly realise that it’s not just you choosing the brief, researching, generating ideas, experimenting, creating and presenting, and you might only see one of those stages. Working in a team requires you to trust your fellow creatives, help push their ideas but also be open to them having views on yours. Everyone brings something different to the table and utilising this is essential to creating great work.

Steven was one of Shernette Daly’s students at Uxbridge College before he went onto university.
Explore some of her articles about the world of branding in Related Posts.

Want to find out more about Internships?

Take a look at advice from Careers and Employability (C&E) at UAL

Some colleges offer a Diploma in Professional Studies. This is an extra year (students apply in year 2) and worthwhile part of the undergraduate programme offering 3 terms of work placements. Alternatively shorter internships can happen throughout the BA courses. Find out more via London College of Communication.

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