Josh Emerson on internships

I can still remember the moment when I saw a tweet from Clearleft asking for an intern to work with them. My heart skipped a beat.

This was a huge opportunity for me and I really, really wanted to get to work alongside some brilliant minds at Clearleft. Had it been an unpaid internship I would probably have had to turn it down, but fortunately for me, it wasn’t.

After an interview (more like a friendly chat in reality) with Richard Rutter, I was offered a three month internship. Two weeks later I was working at Clearleft as part of the team. As well as performing my intern duties by making cups of coffee and tea, I got to update the design of Fontdeck. I was well supported in doing this and learnt a lot about working as part of a team.

In my opinion, the single greatest aspect of being an intern is immersion. I acted like a sponge the whole time, picking up tips and tricks from everyone around me. The guys at Clearleft are really good at running workshops, communicating ideas, managing client expectations, usability testing, etc. I got to sit in on all these activities and learn by experience. No book, blog post or course can rival first hand experience, and so this aspect of internships is invaluable.

Clearly I enjoyed my time as an intern at Clearleft as I’m still with them, now as a permanent member of the team. Two years have passed and I’ve had the opportunity to work on a whole variety of exciting projects. I feel I’ve come a long way since starting that internship and I can’t think of a better way to get this kind of experience and knowledge.

I’ve watched various interns come and go at Clearleft. We try to make sure they get involved in everything and explore their own interests while they are with us. I think we learn almost as much from them as they do from us. Afterwards, they go on to do exciting things such as working for the BBC and GDS.

In my mind, internships are the physical manifestation of the openness we seek so eagerly on the internet. They help us to remain open minded and to seek new solutions, they encourage sharing.

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