We all know what it's like working during this pandemic. Doing remote work can bring constraints to creative pursuits, let alone contribute to mental exhaustion and many other new issues we might need to adapt just as suddenly. But if there's one thing that we believe, the practice of learning knows no boundaries, and it is something that we constantly do despite the circumstances. And by saying we, it takes into account the youngest members in our team, the interns, to whom the needs for learning felt most essential. For us, an internship program has always been crucial as it is bound in our working culture. It is through sharing knowledge that we believe conversations reside and fuel us forward. As challenging as it is, we strive to keep the program going and just as pleasant of an experience for the interns despite the physical limitation. And that is how Internshift was born.
Internshift is an explorative program by three partnering studios of Thinking*Room, Tokotype, and Visious, where interns undertake a series of multidisciplinary design curriculum to be presented by the end of each month, all performed entirely online.
For the six interns who called the shot to join Internshift last year in 2020 and made it through the whole selection process, three months of learning screen-to-screen were anything but a sit-back-and-chill experience. In this interview, Buda Patrayasa, Calvin Wijaya, Febe Tobing, Kezia Christyfani, Maria Christina, and Vania Jocelyn shared their experience learning in three design studios from their respective homes across the provinces and even from abroad. Together they set off a wondrous journey of learning various design skillsets and building a bonded friendship, one that made Buda said: "2020 isn't so bad after all."
Febe – I was really excited! Given the pandemic's impact on the job market where opportunities were limited right now, gaining quality experience—particularly in design—was such a blessing.
Buda – So happppppyy, I literally jumped out of happiness. Yeah, this is definitely going to be one of the most crucial points in my life.
Maria – Honestly, I was shocked. Suddenly all my friends and seniors were congratulating me.
Vania – I was shocked and cried when they invited me for an interview alone. I felt like these three studios were very distant and out of my league. I didn't feel competent enough even to try, let alone to pass. So once I got accepted for the program, I was again shocked and cried out, good tears tho.
Kezia – Feels like a dream. I cried after reading the email.
Calvin Lowkey jumped and fell down the chair.
Buda – It was me who gathered them all in an Instagram group chat, initiating the conversations so we can know each other better. We started as complete strangers. We were shy at first, introducing our names, university, interests, etc. Then we moved to LINE group because it's more convenient. Things just happened then after. They all have interesting personalities and are fun to befriend with. If anyone was shy at first but then laugh the most, it's gotta be funnnyyya.
Vania – Shy shy cat ^_^ lucky we got adopted by Buda. They're all so cool and undoubtedly own a special place in my heart. Class clown, hmm, I think it's Calvin? Or me? Can I do that? Anoint myself?
Calvin – It was quite awkward during our first time chatting, but eventually, we started to open up as we gossip and help and support each other. Almost everyone except Buda was shy, Vania is the weirdest, Maria is so gullible, Kezia looks innocent, and Febe is Febe. Love the team tho.
Kezia – When we first had a conversation in that group chat, I thought it was so awkward. But through countless small talks, I realize that we shared the same goal, which was to learn something here.
Maria – We started with having routined calls and came to know each other better each day. When the first rotation was complete, we shared our experiences from each studio with one another. Often when we got too burnt out with the tasks, we'd cheer each other up. We loved sending memes and laughing at each other's silliness.
Febe – It was not just discovering common interests between one another but also making an effort to get to know parts that were different from mine. We learned a lot about life in Jogja and Surabaya from Kezia and Buda, for instance. I felt like I was also able to share my experiences being in London with the gang. The chat was flooded with memes that range from design humor to the latest scandal on Twitter or the news. For the most part, our conversations are all full of banter and wholesome support if one of us is ever stressed from our projects.
Vania – They are all very supportive, even though we all came from different backgrounds. I feel like we just clicked. We played Gartic together, even shared a Google Drive filled with e-books, assets, and other knowledge. Other times we would gossip about our mentors. JUST KIDDING
Buda – To be honest, Thinking*Room was my dream studio since 2017. I was so excited to finally be able to learn from the people behind T*R. The mentors are nice, and they've done great jobs. I was glad to have yet the chance to know the process behind their incredible works.
Febe – My initial thought was that the team was so intimidating (but in a good way) and powerful! Thinking Room has quite a reputation for being known as the game-changers of design in Indonesia, so that was pretty pressuring to work under their mentorship. I had a bit of impostor syndrome coming into the internship, but everyone was very helpful and open-minded to me, so I quickly got comfortable.
Vania – INTENSE! In a super good way, though. I like challenges and the atmosphere. I enjoyed the whole process, and it's so inspiring to see how they always manage to think beyond. I love how Thinking*Room provided the most learning materials with lots of interactivity in it and how the whole process was done while we explored together. It's like I was free to explore by myself while being guided at the same time.
Kezia – It was hard for me to do some visual explorations, given that my school major is more specialized in branding strategy, data-oriented, kind of like advertising. It was challenging to do graphic design work for me.
Maria – I had difficulties in translating ideas. To think of a concept for branding wasn't as simple and easy as I had thought. So I need to relearn and shift my creative process from the very beginning, learn to be open with countless possibilities and expansion that can happen during the process.
Calvin – I wouldn't say mishaps, but it wasn't easy when you had to brand a business in an enclosed theme. But on the other hand, it's a great exercise to find interesting ideas that don't usually come to your mind, and I've learned many new things along the way. No communication difficulty at all. We sort of clicked.
Kezia – Right before the presentation day, the mentors gave me encouragement that made me feel confident. They always put their trust and see the potentials in me.
Febe – There was always a right balance of fun and seriousness in our meetings. I always left the session feeling refreshed with information. The team also recently sent me KFC for my birthday, which references one of my projects (inside jokes have formed), so I'd like to think that I've formed a connection with the mentors outside of the work setting, which I truly appreciate and hope to keep nurturing.
Vania – When I picked the brief cards! I was pounding fast. Also, when they sent me Kokumi for my birthday. Every meeting was so special. I always felt like we really bonded together.
Calvin – I'd say the way they teach and our interaction. I can't remember anything in specific, but I really love how "receh" they all are and easy going no matter how tight their work schedule is.
Febe – Every skill I learned from Internshift was a form of self-improvement. I specifically learned the details and technicalities of telling a story with a logo and creating a mood and vision through visual branding from Thinking Room. Moreover, through branding, you're not only selling a business but a whole experience. The overall lesson was maintaining a community and good collaborative relationships with the ones you work with.
Maria – One that came to my mind is that we may not have guessed how the branding results will turn out. I learned that we need to hold onto the main idea before exploring the visuals and to treat every media differently as they have their uniqueness. Lastly, I learned to be more open to any possibilities.
Calvin – A lot, but what was most memorable for me is how we presented and packaged our brand as a story since I've never thought of it that way. As for self-improvement, well, this is the first time I've done design without actually meeting people for revision in a studio. So that's a new skill, maybe?
Maria – I've made a display typeface once before, but I'm curious to learn more in-depth knowledge about type anatomy and the how-tos of developing each shape.
Kezia – I was hoping I could finish the task well. I thought it would be a stressful month filled with tears.
Vania – Everything about type! Honestly, I wasn't that aware of this field before, so I wanted to learn the role that typography plays in the creative industry. I was always curious about how people execute and craft a working typeface.
Calvin – How the Shifu (Kak Gumpita) comes up with ideas and how he works, what does he do.
Buda – Typeface is complex but exciting. It was so fun that it influenced my decision to take typography as my final college project.
Febe – I felt that type design eliminated the scale of design as I could just focus on perfecting the letterforms. The conceptualizing came after finishing the font, a new structure of work that I had to adapt to. Overall, the curriculum was the most eye-opening to me as it was the newest form of design that I've worked with.
Vania – It's super enjoyable! I never thought that learning type could be this fun. It may also be because it's one thing that is very new to me, so every moment feels like enlightenment. Kak Gumpita made the learning so fun and relaxing.
Febe – The constant struggle was trying to make the letters look good next to each other and feeling stuck on a weird shape but unsure how to fix it. Luckily, Kak Gumpita is like a wizard with Glyphs, and the software was one of those "practice makes perfect" moments in design. A lesson to take moving forward to all other programs and technical design skills.
Maria – Kak Gumpita provided some tips and tricks to help the drawing process faster. I had difficulties forming the numbers as they have different proportions compared to letters. As for the letters, the lowercase is harder to make because of its many distinct forms.
Vania – To be honest, the process was relatively smooth, thanks to Kak Gumpita. The software was pretty easy to learn, and Kak Gumpita provided us with many references to figure things out on our own. What's quite troublesome for me was the refining process, as I believe my font was still messy here and there. But Kak Gumpita was very patient and considerate in guiding me to reach the balance where my ability could meet his expectations, considering the limited time.
Buda – Kak Gumpita adjusted my font spacing in less than 5 minutes. Calvin wore an Ironman mask on his birthday.
Kezia – Kak Gumpita always helps us patiently and instantaneously. When he fixed or developed some letters with fantastic speed, Febe and I would clap our hands.
Calvin – Our meetings tend to be fast. We only hit the one hour mark once. That, I can't forget HAHAHA. But I hugely appreciate how Mas Gum still tried to dedicate his time to this project amid his tight schedule.
Calvin – I learn to appreciate type designers and little details more. How hard is it to get things right, and what research has to be done to create something exceptional in the type design industry. Most of all, the lesson of perseverance, because kerning, getting the details right, and gut feeling for spacing is tested more than anything in type design.
Vania – I became more aware of typeface designers. I became so appreciative of type that I kept checking every font I used, whether the license is for personal or commercial use. I honestly fell in love with type.
Buda – I learned a lot about design thinking through Febe's process. She is so excellent at gathering data, doing research, and turned it into a great concept. That's what I learned the most besides learning type design.
Febe – My biggest lesson was not to be afraid to make mistakes. Type design requires a lot of cleanliness and consistency, which requires practice, and I felt that my eye for detail had sharpened thanks to Kak Gumpita's nitpicking of details in my font. I also discovered my potential in continuing type as part of my personal design style.
Buda – I thought visual narrative was about creating illustrations that could successfully deliver our messages or ideas. It turns out we'd learn about editorial zine, which is even better.
Maria – I love Visious's Daily Report zine, and I have followed their social media since my second year, although I haven't had the chance to buy it. So through this Internshift at Visious, I was hoping to explore deeper my interest in zine-making and learn every process that goes behind it.
Calvin – Honestly, I just wanted to learn how to draw and animate like they do HAHAHA.
Buda – The mentors are "gokiiiiil."
Calvin – Those people are crazy, but I love the team vibe. There's no team meeting that goes by without any laughter or stupidity. Everyone is professional at the same time very funny. It made me enjoy my last month when I was really burned out in Internshift.
Kezia – It was fun, yet probably the most stressful internship for me.
Febe – My experience at Visious was super fun! The mentors always greeted my progress with excitement, and I really felt that I was able to be personal with this brief. Another impression was that they were a team of jokesters and are all super skilled at creating visually stunning work with witty copywriting, which was something that I tried to channel whilst my time at Visious. I had this curriculum as my first, so it definitely took some time to adjust. Still, the environment and community they created with me definitely helped me feel comfortable to think freely in my process.
Maria – Probably when I had to brainstorm the concept and find ideas for each of the spread. Some contents need further researching, and as I took the supermarket theme for the zine, I need to visit some local stores to collect the photographs and prices. It might be a bit tiring, but it was all worth it in the end.
Vania – Software-wise, I didn't really have much problem as I am pretty comfortable working with InDesign. But I wondered if I should have made the zine differently. Instead of being comfortable with the style that I usually worked on, I should have made the most by learning illustration from Visious. I am still quite happy with the result, nevertheless.
Calvin – For me, it was the style, content-wise, and layouting. I wanted it to be illustration-heavy, but I had difficulties to make it happen because of my lack of skills. So I had to scrap that and turn to my comfort zone, which is experimental type. Content-wise, it was hard to figure out what to put in each section, should I go all out or be conserved because my parents like to see my work. In the end, I chose to play the safe game and not be too explicit with my work, HAHA. In terms of layout, since I want to make it unusual, there were many changes and testing, which was really hard but eventually, with the studio's help and never-ending support, I've got through it.
Kezia – Visious always has their way of making the atmosphere alive with their sarcastic yet super funny jokes.
Febe – Since my zine narrates my experiences dealing with the pandemic abroad, I felt that I was able to open up through my zine and the mentors' were able to get to know me on a personal level. I also always appreciated the team's humorous way of giving feedback. Not to mention the inside jokes about Buda's turbulent internet connection.
Buda – When they told us stories about Artbook Fair. That was a valuable story to share.
Buda – I learned to utilize stylescapes and fontsinuse, develop a narrative flow and copywriting, print product gimmick, and use limited uses effectively.
Maria – I learned to seek and discover the uniqueness of things from our everyday experience and turn them into something that can be shared with others.
Calvin – The way they look at a project from every angle in ease, like material, concept, budget, the public's opinion, and that the problems I might face can even open up a broader perspective for me in approaching the project.
Buda – Internshift really changed my views on how to design. Ideas do matter, craft your design wholeheartedly, and always push yourself to learn new things. The final report was really useful to reevaluate our weaknesses to improve more in the future.
Kezia – I never thought I would try to apply for Internshift at the very beginning. I thought I was just an ordinary student who was forced to take Visual Communication Design as my major. But during the process, I saw many things that I didn't know and got to learn more about them. It sparked a little fire inside me and gave me the courage to believe in myself more, to create more, and finally inspired me to really pursue as a designer.
Febe – Before starting Internshift, I had a very individualistic mindset in my working style. But the biggest gain of all was forming this tight-knit design community I believe I can always turn to from now on. Even as established designers in the industry, the mentors always emphasized the importance of exploration and learning, which I believe capture the essence and overall philosophy of Internshift. In times of crisis, I never would have thought to gain a sense of community through remote working, which shows how technology knows no boundaries. As for my self-reflection, confidence in my identity as a designer was a considerable quality that I feel has grown throughout my time. Of course, adding more to the CV is always a perk. Still, experience does not always bring sentimental value, and I'm glad to say that Internshift gave me sentimental values and vast knowledge that I will carry with me.
Vania – I think amid this pandemic, Internshift is one my biggest blessing in disguise. The past three months were bliss. I'd never thought interning and learning would be this fun, and this program has brought so much contentment to me. Joining this program was like riding a roller coaster: full of adrenaline, lots of ups and downs, but in the end, the ride was so worth it.
Maria – During the Internshift, I kept asking myself what design really is. I kept questioning my ability and my experience in designing. And yet it was true that the more you learn something, the more you realize that you don't know anything about it. The creative process is not easy, but once you go through the process and reach the final result, there is always contentment. It might not always end beautifully, and it might not be an easy process, but the lessons make them all valuable.
Calvin – When I made my mind to get a design degree after spending two years learning entrepreneurship in uni, I really thought I wasn't up for this kind of work. Being accepted in Internshift is like a gift from God that says all my hard work and sleepless nights have paid off. There's a lot of great things that I've learned from my peers as well as the seniors. But going through this journey has really shown me that the design world isn't only about working hard and being great at what you do. It's also about how teamwork can really make the dream work. I'm really grateful and honestly thankful to everyone in the studio for giving us the time to have a piece of you. But most of all, the thought that there's always going to be people better than you will help me a lot in never being enough of what I can do for the country and community. So thank you for the opportunity.
At the industry's most precarious and grueling, it was through nourishing the creative environment and preparing future talents that we gained our hopeful spirits. As we embrace each challenge, we realized that often it opens up new opportunities we didn't see had we not try pursuing it. Internshift has allowed knowledge sharing to be accessible for people living outside our areas; it promotes participation and cultural exchange in a more diverse and broad context. While the experience has been meaningful for the six interns, we'd say that we have enjoyed the overall process just as much as they did.
So, what are your thoughts about Internshift? Would you agree on Internshift's season two this year? For more information about Internshift, visit internshift.fyi or check out @intern_shift on Instagram.
Cover Artwork by: Ira Carella
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*Image courtesy of Microsoft. All rights reserved