As a graphic design intern at Pacejet LLC, the main activities I held this summer was a combination of marketing research and the development of infographics, company merchandise, and social media posts. Additionally, I also worked closely with the CEO, learning about what it takes to run a multi-million-dollar company.
One lesson I learned this summer at my internship was about professional work culture. At the beginning of the internship, I felt unprepared from the transition from classes to an 8am-5pm schedule. Over the next three months, I learned more about work-life balance as well as professional communications that alleviated some of this stress. I felt more comfortable interacting with my coworkers, adjusting my workload, and asking for feedback on projects.
My internship also transformed my view on shipping and the logistics industry. The other positions I have held during my undergraduate career have been in the government or focused on the college demographic. At Pacejet, I communicated to a wide age range of business professionals both visually through graphics and verbally through social media. I also undertook a marketing research project, establishing the vertical markets of the company and helped tailor our branding for each segment.
Sam Bush was my main mentor and the content manager at Pacejet. With a background in graphic design and marketing, Sam has worked at the company for the last two years. She took more of an agency approach to the internship—starting with brainstorming and drafting sketches to working together to create the final outcome. This method aided our creative process and made me more engaged with the work I was creating. I felt more artistic freedom and usually created a few different drafts before presenting them to her.
Since this was my first time as a professional graphic designer, I was able to implement the skills I gained from my class COMM 2511: Visual Communications and apply it to important visuals for the company. My favorite project I worked on was an infographic based on a survey from an email campaign we had sent. The biggest struggle I had was how to effectively convey the information but also still fit in with the current brand standards. With Sam’s help, I learned a lot about layout design, the pattern of the eye, and most importantly, to ask as many questions as possible.
Another mentorship that was integral to my growth was with the CEO, Bill Knapp. Unlike Sam, who was more focused on the creative aspects of the company, Bill was based in sales. For the majority of our projects pitched, we had to justify to Bill how this would benefit the company and how it would ultimately generate more revenue. This interaction taught me the importance of being able to voice your opinions as well as take constructive feedback. As a department, we realized we were lacking research on our current customers and with Bill’s help, I was able to generate a thorough analysis of our client base. I presented the research to my department, the company executives, and the board of the company. This was a wonderful opportunity to engage with the thought leadership of our company and I gained a lot of expertise in the planning aspect of marketing.
Over the last three months, I have evolved my design capabilities, professional communication techniques, and networking skills. While I am still unsure of the path I will take after graduation, I feel more prepared to transition into a professional career. I have a better grasp of what the typical workload will be like and how to find balance in a new company. My coworkers at Pacejet were always very welcoming and willing to answer any of my questions. One piece of advice the majority of professionals gave me was to work in a place that makes me happy but also to work somewhere with a supportive work culture. I do not think I would have been able to execute my projects at the level of design needed for a professional company without the leadership from my mentors. In the future, I will also take into account the experience that previous and current employees have had with a company before applying.
Another reason why my internship was incredibly significant to my professional and academic goals is that I gained confidence in myself. Because of Sam’s agency approach, I was able to oversee a project from start to finish. At first, this was overwhelming, since I was used to the majority of my projects being assigned to me. However, the supportive atmosphere leads me to take advantage of my new insights into the industry. I researched, proposed, developed, and disseminated my work internally or publicly. Through this process, I gained a holistic view of the marketing process and of a successful business. Instead of simply just completing a task, I found passion in the learning and creative process. I now feel more comfortable in my abilities to take on leadership roles and to justify my ideas to other professionals.