During the weeks leading up to my internship as an account manager at Glantz Design, I binge-watched Mad Men. Although Glantz isn’t an ad agency, there are many parts of the show, like the creativity and ingenuity of their work, that made me very excited to begin my internship this summer. Fast-forward 7 weeks (and 5 seasons of Mad Men… I’m a little ashamed of my lack of self control). Were my expectations accurate?
If you eliminate the typewriters and copious amounts of hairspray, the values of what makes companies like Sterling Cooper and Glantz Design successful are similar. Clear communication, creative yet purposeful design, and a passion for challenging and developing one’s skills remain just as relevant today as sixty years ago. These lessons greatly influenced the way we, as interns, approached writing, collaborated with others, and viewed creative design.
Whether you are reading this as a prospective intern, client, or fellow designer, we thought the best way to illustrate the experience of interning at Glantz Design would be to walk you through some of the highlights of Glantz’s internship program through the eyes of an account management intern (me, Sarah N) and a design intern (Sarah W).
As a Northwestern student, it was great to have the opportunity to work locally. Glantz is submerged within Evanston’s community, whether it be supporting nonprofit organizations in the area, sponsoring community events—such as Evanston MashUp (a project I was able to help plan) — or doing business with local companies.
Coming from a post grad design background, I was given the opportunity to work as a design intern. Glantz is a smaller sized agency with designers and project managers who wear multiple hats. The overall atmosphere is welcoming and the team is supportive of one another and their clients.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
I got to witness the design process from start to finish. Due to Glantz’s small size and collaborative values, there are a number of projects that get touched by almost everyone. From drawing on our dry-erase board walls during brainstorming sessions to the detail-oriented process of proofing an annual report for an anti-tobacco organization, I was able to see strategy and design unite to create compelling content. A significant amount of thought and energy go into each project at Glantz, which constantly pushed me to improve and learn.
The design process at Glantz was eye opening coming from a heavily print influenced design background. As a design team, Glantz thrives in creating functional web designs for their clients. During my first two weeks, I was given the opportunity to sit in on a variety of meetings and white-boarding sessions to begin creating a concept and wireframe out potential ideas for a site. This taught me how to view a site as a user would and experience firsthand how designers work with one another.
Website design and development surprised me in being one of my favorite projects. I loved that I got to collaborate with people I didn’t usually work with and gained an understanding of how websites operate, which was far outside my comfort zone. My coworkers taught me that yes, website development can be complex and laborious at times, but the finished product is well worth the sweat.
In accepting the design internship at Glantz, I hoped to build on my previous work experience by designing web-based projects and enhancing my print design skills. While working as part of the design team, I was assigned a variety of projects such as designing a template for an annual report, collaborating for the Glantz 10 Year Anniversary, and wireframing out a site’s redesign. Throughout the summer, one of the projects I enjoyed the most was collaborating with Sarah and another designer in researching design resources to update a previous Glantz blog post. I loved creating hand-drawn illustrations that would cohesively become a visual system as well as asking designers for their feedback and suggestions.
Unlike many internships, I had the unique opportunity to work with every single employee at Glantz. Everyone was welcoming, receptive to my questions, and patient as I became acclimated. Glantz Design knows how to make work fun. Every day, two people get to DJ whatever music they want for the office. There are only two rules set by Keith: 1) No Justin Bieber. 2) Country is permitted, but tread lightly. I was trusted with an afternoon slot my second week, and thoroughly enjoyed writing copy to The Police and Foster The People.
The Glantz team welcomed me from the start. During the first two weeks I was eased into meeting everyone and sitting among them to hear what projects they were working on. During my experience, I participated in Glantz Lunch n’ Learn presentations and was given the opportunity during my last month to present a topic to the team. This presentation gave me the chance to practice my public speaking skills and feel comfortable sharing my insights with my peers.
Not many interns can say they immediately interacted with clients and contributed to projects. On my first day, I participated in the weekly status meeting by taking notes and was proofing page numbers for a food catalogue index all before noon. I felt entirely comfortable taking risks and stretching myself, thanks to my coworkers, and ended up learning a lot. I never expected to be in charge of creating social media posts for a community event or writing blog posts for Glantz’s website.
Throughout the summer, I was trusted to apply my design skills to projects. One of the projects I worked continuously on was an extensive annual report. I worked independently from the beginning to the middle of the project, and then collaborated with another designer to finish up the project. This project really helped me grow: to trust myself as a designer, to think independently about my creative process, and to better understand working with a client.
Glantz gave Sarah W. and I the opportunity to observe and participate in the design process from the moment a client communicates their vision to writing it as a “win” during status meetings. Whether it was matching colors from the Pantone guide, brainstorming on the pool deck, learning WordPress in our “super pod”*, or researching design inspiration for the Glantz blog, each task was assigned to us with a purpose.
We never went on coffee runs or got stuck with meaningless work, which was significant because it gave Sarah W. and I the confidence to believe our work had value. It helped us communicate and become more comfortable sharing our ideas. Most importantly, my work at Glantz taught me that with an open mind and the right team I can push myself to learn new skills and create content that can positively impact others. Thank you, Glantz Design team, for providing Sarah W. and I with a summer full of creativity, companionship, and plenty of coffee.
*Super Pod: noun. A group of designers that lock themselves in the conference room and work to the Harry Potter soundtrack to spark creativity.