IMM Internship Blog: Final Thoughts

Two and a half years ago, I thought I’d never use Photoshop for anything real.

For sure, I knew how to group layers, apply multiple strokes, and match colors to each other. But it was all in a vacuum. I had no people to answer to, no audience to keep in mind. My design work, which at the time was merely a hobby in the wake of the engineering degree I was attempting to get, reflected only my own whims. I made things my way, even if it meant making choices that basic tenets of the field would indicate were horrible — a blurry photo here, a shoddy kerning job there.

Then I failed two classes.

I realized fast that I was going to have to do something else with my life. Not that I was apprehensive to get started with graphic design and TCNJ’s interactive multimedia major — if anything, I was lying to myself by staying out of it for as long as I did. Even my parents and sister had always asked me, every time I complained that the long hours in mech labs just didn’t inspire me, if I was sure I didn’t want to pursue what was clearly my real passion. But this would mean dedicating myself to a kind of design that was larger than myself.

Enter News-O-Matic, in mid-2016. By this point, I’d taken a good several classes in which I’d learned more about the field in one way or another. I knew I needed experience and that an internship would provide me with just that, but I naturally had no idea what it would mean for me to have it. Even from the first time I walked into the publication’s tiny office six stories above Madison Avenue, everything felt so in control of itself.

It turned out that design was a much more complicated process when done in, as they say, “the real world”. I had principles to learn, style guides to follow, experts to listen to. I had to abandon my first choice for a typeface because it wasn’t easily legible to children. I had to spend twenty minutes at a time perfecting details I first thought wouldn’t matter. I had to justify my aesthetic choices to an art director. I had…deadlines.

All of this made me a better and more mature designer. I grew from seeing the craft as something I only did because I felt like it to something done in a specific context and for a wider purpose. Design is not just self-indulgent art, it’s a solution to a specific need of others. Thanks to my internship, this is something I can finally say I know.