Getting It Right (Through Trial and Error)

This semester I achieved one of my goals that I set way back at the beginning of high school, which feels weird to think about! For a while, I knew that I wanted to work at WXPN in some way, and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity this semester to be their graphic design intern. WXPN is a non-commercial public radio station broadcast from the University of Pennsylvania. Non-commercial means that WXPN doesn’t have the typical ad spots that you’d hear on Radio 104.5 and instead the station gets funding from other sources, like memberships and sponsors. It might seem like a non-traditional place for an Advertising major to hold an internship, but as an Art Direction student with an interest in graphic design, I can say that it’s giving me lots of useful experience with applications for any type of design position.


As the graphic design intern, I work closely with the marketing department. Most of my projects so far focus on the promotion of WXPN, which I expected. It’s a mix of working with existing graphics to meet the needs of the marketing department as well as projects that give me a lot more creative freedom. I enjoy both and they both have challenges. I’ve created flyers to get students to apply for internships, web graphics, created labels for a photo exhibit installation, and laid out a t shirt for a 5K run. The logo was created by the previous intern, but my job was to design the sleeve graphic and typography, lay out the design with the sponsor logos, and prepare the file for printing.


It might sound surprising, but the t shirt was definitely my greatest challenge thus far. I hadn’t created a t shirt before, but it didn’t matter because that was my given task and the marketing department needed them really fast and the 5K was in a little more than a week. I knew the basics about printing and some more specifics about it. However, I ended up having to send files back and forth to the printing company more than I would’ve liked to! Preparing files is nobody’s favorite part about designing. It can definitely be frustrating, especially when there isn’t a design team in the office to ask for help! But through all of my trial and error and mistakes, I learned which file types work with for this sort of project. While it felt a little embarrassing to have a printing company contact me multiple times saying “hey, this still isn’t right,” it pushed me to dig deep and analyze the issues with the files and research a solution. In the end, the t shirts were printed with plenty of time before the 5K and they ended up looking exactly right! I was really happy to see hundreds of runners and volunteers wearing them the next weekend and knowing that I’d worked my way though something new to make that happen.


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