Student Shares Product Design Internship Lessons

by April 18th, 2013

Sometimes, the lessons learned in the field are the ones that stick the most. Geoff Ledford, a graduating Art Center student in Product Design, recently wrote an article for Fast Company detailing his experiences interning at Soulcake Creative in San Clemente, California.

“As a designer, I draw and work in 3D – communication via pictures and sketches,” said Ledford. “But prior to deciding to become a designer, I was a writer. My thought was that if I shared some of these lessons, they might help someone else.”

Product Design graduate Geoff Ledford.

Geoff Ledford talks about his design internship experiences in a recent Fast Company article.

His lessons boil down to four points:

  • Kill your ego. “A tinge of hubris can quickly contaminate an otherwise good relationship,” said Ledford. “And with so many capable design consultancies all ready to do the same job, it’s important to stay humble.”
  • Bring passion to your presentation. While working at Soulcake, one of the partners at the studio explained, “A good presentation shouldn’t just give me information–it should evoke emotion.” Ledford realized that his work could not solely rely on analytical justification, but rather worked best when it incorporated emotional elements.
  • Find your own voice. No matter what kind of work, this advice is crucial to anything creative. Ledford makes his case with jazz musician Freddie Hubbard who had to find a voice that was his own instead of being an imitation of Miles Davis. Likewise, when Ledford said he tried creating work he thought his boss would want, “the result was a bunch of concepts that lacked my voice and, consequently, weren’t authentic.”
  • Work will always be there.Wanting to make a good impression, one day Ledford opted to go in the office early to work rather than surf with one of the owners. Instead of pushing Ledford into the office, the owner responded that he thought Ledford should surf: “There is always work and the waves aren’t always this good.” Like any creative endeavor, exploring opportunities outside of design (like surfing) gives fresh perspective.

Besides these valuable lessons, Ledford learned a great deal during his internship, like how to relate to clients, how to take a design into actual production and the business behind running a design studio. He also discovered more about what makes him a better designer.

“I’m at my best when I have time to invest in things outside of design,” said Ledford. “My goal is to live a simple, balanced life, do the best work I can with any given design brief, and inspire others to do the same.”

Ledford is excited to graduate, but also amazed at the time that has gone by. “Graduating from Art Center is awesome – but at the same time I can’t believe it’s actually over. Soulcake recently offered me a job, so I’m excited to get started with that chapter of my life. It’s going to be great to be back at the beach where I can surf every day.”

Congratulations to all our Spring Term 2013 graduates!

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