For many internships, the focus is on the skills you are going to learn throughout your time there. However, my graphic design internship at Smokin’ Hot Solutions provided valuable lessons in workplace culture, collaborating with colleagues, and my future in the industry going forward.

When new graduates are starting out in the industry and applying to entry-level positions, workplace culture is not exactly at the top of our list of requirements. However, workplace culture is very important and sets the tone for how your experience will be at the company. This is something that I learned is very important through my internship. I have learned that it is important to trust your gut instinct when going into a position. Some employers will ask you to come in for a trial day, which I think would be great for both the potential employee and current employees to see if it’s a match for both.

Collaborating with colleagues is another important part of a job that can set the precedent for how your supervisors evaluate your performance. I learned that it takes compromise and pushing yourself to be a bit uncomfortable sometimes in speaking up about ideas, critiques, and other aspects of the work. In a smaller company, employees touch many aspects of the work that may not be their official responsibility or title. This provides room to learn, but also a challenging aspect of communicating about topics your colleagues may not have as much knowledge in, or vise versa. 

I learned very important lessons about the somewhat unspoken aspects of workplace culture and collaboration. I learned to set boundaries for myself and what I expect to gain from an employer in exchange for what they expect from me. I am eager to try out a workplace that is a bit larger so that I can experience both ends of the spectrum. Smokin’ Hot Solutions was very small and start-up like, so it had some unique challenges and lessons to teach. It helped me narrow down what I will be looking for when applying for design positions in the advertising industry in the future.