Thursday, July 15, 2010

My first job: Shocked, I was.

My first real job was a marketing/graphic design intern position with a local construction company.

Like many growing companies, these guys were sick of paying the relatively high prices to outsource their design work. They would spend a pretty penny having someone else put together their project books and print ads.

So they decided to bring all their marketing and design in-house...and I was it. Design department? Marketing? Me. The intern who was still in school.

Wet behind the ears is understating the cliche. I was soaked from head to toe, but it was exciting and now as I look back, I couldn't have started my career at a better place.

You see, I came into this internship from a job where I answered phones and figuratively changed the diapers of those attempting to fill out their college financial aid forms online. Out of all the jobs I've had, the freaking phone-answering job had to be the craziest and most stressful.

If I had to go to the bathroom, I had to "punch out" of my phone so that management knew I was not available, and I had TWO (2) minutes to get to the bathroom and get back or I was in trouble. It didn't matter if I had to go number 1 or number 2, I had to push fast and sit my half-wiped ass back down to answer the phones.

I worked at this place full time to get me through design school. When the opportunity presented itself in the form of an internship doing design work for a construction company, I jumped at it. I was overjoyed that it was a paying gig and I could quit my hectic job with Big Brother.

Imagine my shock as I left a job where I didn't have time to piss to a place where they sat me at my own desk to perform a couple week's worth of...web browsing.

They wanted me to design a new web site for the company and they wanted me to take a look at other construction companies' sites to see what I thought worked.

I was shell-shocked because after the first couple of full days, I had sketches and notes up the wazoo for a new web site. The rest of the week was just cruising the net. They didn't have anything else for me to do just yet, so I was to simply sit tight.

Well, I at least wanted to get started building the site, even if they didn't have all the information I needed ready to go.

Since I knew both diddly and squat about coding, I told them I needed...haha...I told them that for me...hee hee...for me to build the web site, I would need...I would need...hahaha...Microsoft FRONTPAGE....


Yeah. Intern.

Anyway, after my first week there of noodling around on the internet and eating candy, I started to feel guilty about getting paid to do this "job". I mean, after almost two years of getting hammered day in and day out on the phones by people who didn't know how to clear their browser cookies, I felt like I was stealing from my new employers.

I told my brother, who works as a web programmer, about my feelings. He laughed and told me to chill and soak it up because the slow pace will come and go, and when it goes, I'll understand why the company hired me.

He was right. The slow couple of weeks came to an end and suddenly I had a ton of construction project books to design, as well as the site, print ads, newsletters, and press releases.

Then a couple more slow weeks. More internet noodling and candy.

I was sad to leave that company (although the money I was to make at my new job would cheer me up considerably) because it was a great first job that yielded much time for me to learn my craft.

One last thing. Those of you who are starting late in the design profession, or it is taking longer than usual to finally get through school, know that when I accepted my internship, I was 30 years-old.

Yep, a 30 year-old intern working in FrontPage. Don't let that image make you sad because I am now onto better things in my career. If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.

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