When I found out three years ago that I would be in the first graduating class for the new Product Design and Innovation major, I was so excited. My freshman year in the major was an important time to learn, grow and make connections. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make connections with people who are already in the industry. Most of the connections I made were at MIX events and with professionals coming to talk to us about their company.
The summer after my freshman year I knew wouldn’t be the time for me to obtain an internship. Most companies are looking for sophomores or juniors with well-developed portfolios. So, that summer I built my sketching skills by watching videos on YouTube and kept improving my knowledge in the Adobe Suite. Even though I didn’t have an internship after my freshman year, it was important for me to work somewhere that would speak volumes about who I am as a person outside of product design so I worked as a camp counselor with young women, emphasizing personal growth. Employers aren’t just looking at your work, they want to know about who you are as a person since they could be working side by side with you.
This was definitely the time my portfolio would grow, and I could start applying to internships more confidently. Our class projects were displayed on our Behance pages to show to potential employers. We were also very fortunate to have two of Newell’s product designers teach our design drawing class. While in their class, I began to fall behind in sketching. I was worried about my grades and my opportunity to get an internship. This is an example of why connections are super important. One of the Newell product designers became a mentor for me.
I spent some of my lunches at Newell learning how to improve my sketching. It improved exponentially, and I became more confident as a designer. After that help, my projects were looking better than ever, and the internship hunt became less nerve racking.
Through conversations with Mike Elwell, the head of the Product Design and Innovation major, I voiced that want to design shoes one day. Thanks to Mike’s big list of connections, he got me in touch with a men's dress shoe company. They looked over my portfolio and we interviewed over Skype. The next week I found out that I got the job and I would be in El Segundo, California, for two months in the summer working for Wolf and Shepherd men's dress shoes.
When I started junior year right after that successful internship, I entered my classes with new skills. Later I was able to include two of the projects that I had done at Wolf and Shepherd into my portfolio - one is a product that is on the market.
Because the internship was so much fun and it advanced my skills, I wanted a second internship at a larger company during the summer before my senior year. I applied to about 25 companies and had interviews with five. I applied to HASBRO in Pawtucket, RI, on a whim. They contacted me at the beginning of spring break to set up an interview.
Two days later I was offered an internship!! I was worried that the internship would be cancelled due to COVID19. I recently heard the good news that it is still on, but it has been moved to online. I’m so grateful that I will be able to have this experience.