Matt Currie, design intern at Jacknife, shared with us an intern's perspective on breaking into the design industry, coping with feeling deflated when you're job-hunting after graduating, and how valuable it is to intern in a studio that will push your skills, where you can soak up as much as possible.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

I planned to go straight from school and into a position at a studio! I thought the transition would be quick and seamless after 3 years of design school. It turned out to be a couple of seemingly long months of making connections and knocking on doors before an opportunity presented itself, and I started my internship with Toronto’s Jacknife.

The toughest part was dealing with the initial deflation of not landing anything, and trying not to get discouraged when nothing seemed to be coming my way. I was so excited to finish school and to finally get out into the industry, and then suddenly school was over and it started to sink in that landing a job was going to be a whole new mountain I had to climb.

What’s your take on internships?

Interning has been my door into this industry, and I’m incredibly grateful for everything it’s making available to me this early in my career. To me “intern” is only a title, and if a studio that does the kind of work you want to do is willing to take you on AND to compensate you, then I’d say get in there!

If it came down to a cozy junior role with fantastic benefits, but the studio’s work didn’t excite me, vs. an internship at a great studio who will have me push myself to get up to a junior level, then I would take the internship every time.

Design work by Jacknife The Design Kids interviews Jacknife work-2

What are some of the best and worst parts of your job, day-to-day?

The best part is being surrounded, day in and day out, by people who’ve been living design for longer than I have. I learn so much from seeing how others think, operate and approach the work. A five minute chat with one of my seniors can completely change how I’m approaching a project. Collectively, 5 months of being in this environment has been shifting my entire perspective on design and the role I play within it.

There are no “worst” parts, but rather, challenges. Initially, I expected these to all be super design related but there’s so much more involved. Everything from learning how to effectively communicate with my team, to organizing myself and my time, to how I deal with my own self-doubts and fears. All of this can feel tough or overwhelming when I'm in the moment, but I’ve found that the most challenging days are the ones that I learn from the most.

What are your top 5 local design things our readers can check out?

Toronto is full of creative people who are doing work that inspires me. Fidel Pena and the work of Underline Studio, the Leo Burnett Design team, Ryan Crouchman the team at LG2 Toronto, Vanessa Eckstein and the people at Blok Design, and Monnet Design are all at the top of the list!

Design work by Jacknife The Design Kids interviews Jacknife work-4
Design work by Jacknife The Design Kids interviews Jacknife work-4

I’ve found that the most challenging days are the ones that I learn from the most.

Are you involved in any teaching and if so, how does it shape your practice?

We started this thing in school last year called the Salon. The Salon is a space for students to be in the conversation of design outside of the regular classroom structure. A space to talk about the every day things we go through as creative people… Stress and burnout, what gets us stoked, getting help from each other and talking through the things that we are all dealing with but aren’t talking about enough.

Having the space to be open and to share with like-minded people made me realize that my problems are not unique, and that we are all dealing with the same challenges in one way or another. The Salon has evolved into a community of people that get in communication with each other whenever we hit stumbling blocks in our creative and/or personal lives, and together we are able to work through whatever.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

The next 12 months look like continuing to live and breathe this creative work that I love so much. Everything from my studio work as a designer to expanding on my outlets of lettering and painting murals, to starting from ground zero with new skillsets like studio photography and learning to shoot product. Really, I’m just out to soak up as much as possible, and to get my hands on as much as I can! If I’m able to do that, then I’m satisfied for now!

Design work by Jacknife The Design Kids interviews Jacknife work-6
Design work by Jacknife The Design Kids interviews Jacknife work-6

Where to find Jacknife online.

Instagram: @mattocurrie

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