So as the last post says I HAVE MOVED TO LONDON. I have been here for almost two months and I still can’t believe it. I get up, look outside and say to myself, “You’re in fuckin LONDON, man!” It’s a place I never thought I’d really be living in. Well yeah…it’s pretty cool. I had the task from my program manager to write three stories to reflect on my journey so far. These aren’t really stories per say…more like just phases in my journey into internhell. Internhell is the place interns spirits go to die. I have had a journey to say the least. I just want to make it clear that within the advertising/creative industry and working as a creative/designer it is important that one has a place that is nurturing to the creative spirit and that is something that takes precedence over most other things with me.
Phase One: The Waltz
I had found my internship placement in November when Sam Zelaya and I came to visit London with the sole purpose of finding awesome agencies to develop our talents in. London is an amazing city, it’s vibrant and exciting and it had been a really long time since I had felt that gut deep feeling of frenzy from being surrounded by millions of busy individuals out and about. I had several interviews set up and was really excited to get to know these agencies and see which might fit me best. I had talked with Breed & Craft, a small advertising agency that was desperate to take on someone with design focus, they had a CD that was taking on other projects and would only be part time soon. I had the desire to take on the responsibility and really dive deep, learn how it really is out there. So I took it on…and I was stoaked.
I called so many places; embassies, and border controls, even migration control in Sweden to make sure I could go. Booked my ticket, got on the plane, got to the border…and was held. They did an investigation and I was searched about 74 times. It wasn’t like I was a drug lord or terrorist but whatever…I was put into an armored vehicle and driven to a ‘holding facility’ *ahem-practically-jail-ahem* and had to wait for about 20hrs until I could fly back to Copenhagen. It was hell and it was just the start of this journey.
It turns out all the information I was given would pertain to many countries in Europe but the UK isn’t a part of Europe so I was screwed into having to get my visa. Once back in Sweden, I started the process of getting my visa. I talked to an old mobile Hyper, Kaan, who had to go through the same thing. He told me about an organisation that will sponsor it, act as a middleman for me and the UK Home Office. It took 6 weeks, about 12 documents and 7500 SEK to finally get it all.
So the first step was done. Well, it felt more like 1 step forward, pushed back 2 steps and then hoping 3 forward again. Instead of a beautiful waltz into my future, I was clumsily tumbling into it.
Phase Two: Tiptoeing
Once I did get to London there were a lot of personal things to overcome. I was emotionally tired and frustrated by the first stage of my internship and just wanted things to go smoothly, I tried planning every aspect of my life. Just so that I didn’t feel like I was losing control of it again. I realize now that that really affected how I was a work too.
I knew I would be quite stage 1, coming into a new environment and trying to understand my place within it. But the CD I was told would be part-time, was gone and I honestly had NO GUIDANCE. Looking back on it I should have talked up a lot more about it but I kept thinking to myself “Nila, you’re a big girl, you can deal with this.”, “Just figure things out.“, “You asked for this responsibility.” and that wasn’t helping my situation. I felt like I was tiptoeing to keep in with an agency I was learning I didn’t even like. It got me really depressed and I couldn’t see a way out of it than changing where all I was, finding another agency.
After talking to several classmates about how their experiences were going I realized I wasn’t getting enough work, nor was I in a creative environment, nor did I have the support to develop myself. I started looking for other places to contact about placements there. My agency had realized it too and one morning while I was sick at home I get an email saying they are terminating my contract and I don’t have to come in for the rest of the month. Ummm what the fukk?? In their email (A FRICKING EMAIL) they said it’s because they don’t have the staff nor the projects to keep me actively working, all of which I had already noticed. And when I did have a meeting with them about the termination I asked them a question they couldn’t really answer. Why had they taken me on, if they knew they would have no supporting staff and no work for me? Why hadn’t they said something before I got here or even in January didn’t they let me know that they couldn’t support and take me on? Well, apparently they didn’t know. They didn’t know it would change so drastically or that I would need as much support as I would.
…What? HA! Are you kidding? I asked for an INTERNSHIP. Which is what a student or someone with relatively little experience takes to gain that experience and insight. I was more pissed about that. But it wouldn’t have been a good fit for me anyway. I need a place that isn’t so…cold. Not just temperature wise but the work culture and their structure just wasn’t for me. Also they worked a lot with bought media and pushing ‘amplified videos’ which I’m not into.
I’ve learned three things from this:
Talk up when you are feeling uncomfortable and unsure, even at stage 1 honesty is the best policy.
I am extremely user-centric and when businesses try to sell things to audiences as if it’s the 1990s and their consumers are dumb, it frustrates me and then my enthusiasm to work plummets.
Culture is extremely important to me. As a creative, I need to be surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do and an environment that nurtures creativity and innovation.
Phase Three: Finding the Fire
So now, I am contacting other agencies. I had an interview at AnalogFolk with Ben and we are trying to get them to take us on a creative/design team and I’m super hopeful. But learning from the past couple months, I am making backup plans B, C and D. I’m contacting different agencies in London and if I haven’t found anything by the 10th I’m heading back to Sweden (since it will be hard to live here unemployed) and working on finding something there, in Copenhagen or somewhere else relatively close. Or possibly in the States somewhere.
This time in London has been okay but my internship journey has been a bit disheartening. I am finding it hard to find the passion in being here. But I’m trying, I’m always trying to find that fire I know is in me. I know I need to get my head on straight and buckle down, but I have been going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Some days I am on my game, I can focus on things and get them done without a problem, I’m hopeful and excited about which way I’m going in the future. Otherdays, I can barely get out of bed, I can’t focus enough to do basic things and I feel like giving up. I know it’s just depression, I’ve gone through it before, but it’s still something I’ve struggled with. I know that things will work out overall and I need to focus on the bigger picture, but it can be difficult.
I had come so far and I feel like I’ve been knocked down a few pegs and now I’m trying to climb up out of the dark back to where I was. Maybe someday soon.
This is going to be a weird blog. My class has been separate for the 7 weeks of this project and have been keeping everyone up to date via google plus so I’m going to post the updates from my group here. So if there is anything a bit confusing…that’s why.
“My group has been working with Albinsson & Sjöberg for the past two weeks. A&S is a motor magazine publisher, actually one of the biggest in Scandinavia. They have 16 magazines and host a ton of motor events in Sweden and Norway as well as own a race track outside of Linköping. After we were introduced to the head management, we went on a tour and were introduced to the rest of the members of the company. The first week we only researched and interviewed the employees. We gained a lot of insight just being able to talk to the ones open enough to share their viewpoints. The company is really old school, in pretty much every sense. They are in a market that is slowly dying and they don’t seem to want to accept that. They also have an older customer group, and they also seem to focus a lot on just them. They also are very stiff and old school internally. To communicate they phone, email, or walk to the person; they also are very top-down and that creates a hard environment for innovation to flourish. After having a few meetings with our industry leader and a manager at HI about how much of a fossil company A&S is we found that this is such a great opportunity and really dove into thinking of something amazing for them. (Since really anything would be an improvement for the company)”
“We are, I think, on the right track. We wrote a brief for them to review and are going to have a meeting with them next week to discuss and finalize the perimeters of the project. We got advise from employees that everything is very top-down and they tend to not see the bigger picture when it comes to digital so we have to break everything down, over-explain everything and take it all step by step with them. We have talked a little about giving them options, like you would a child, options that we think of that we think would work for them but this way gives them more of a feeling that they are more involved and have the final decisions.
Dunno if that all made sense but yeah.”
“We moved on to interviewing the target audience and current customers. It was really great to find that they have moved online because that was something that our client is really scared of, they don’t see the value of it. We also found other sites and companies that really inspired us to come up with some sort of younger, more tailored sub-brand. Something that would be more geared toward the digitally savy.”
“We held an update/ideation workshop today, only half the people came but it was still pretty good. We checked-in and then updated them about what we have been doing thing these past few weeks, going through research and interview insights. Then talked about our idea of a sub-brand which is only digital and aimed towards a younger user and focused on network/community. After we explained that a bit we did a short ideation with them. We set up 6 ‘stations’ with different potential industries they could look into (like education, travel, etc).
They started of a bit stiff in the beginning and then after ideation they loosened up a lot and were really engaged and positive. We were able to loosen them up and gain their trust. In the check out one woman said that she was a bit stressed and nervous about what was going on but now feels really good about what we are doing. We also got the feedback that ideation was great and something they never do but want to take it forward to generate more ideas. It was fun to see them smile and change over the hour workshop.
We reflected afterward and realized its a lot easier to have one person talking/presenting with text rather than two because it doesn’t pull the eye too much. Its nice to get their ideas and see there their heads are at and how we can co-create something that pushes them even further. We want to take this OS1 company and move it to OS2 but even maybe even pushing forward to create some kind of OS3 agency.
We understand that this is really intense learning experience and we may not have all the right answers but we are really happy with everything we’ve done so far. We’ve progressed a lot in a short amount of time and this can only get better.”
“So we have been prototyping for the past week or so and going through the strategy outline so we know what we want to deliver and finalizing the concept. We just started really producing some stuff and I think we are all feeling really good to have moved on into this phase. We have a racing event to go to next weekend in Linköping to test the concept on current A&S fans (although we are aimed at a different tribe now). Today we converted our paper wire-frames to digital ones, worked on how we implement a sub-brand seamlessly in a company, as well as style and moodboards.”
Now it is October 7th and we have all of our deliverables ready and are trying to wrap them into a nice easy to understand package for the company and our exhibition in Stockholm. We created several mock-ups for the platform, branding, brand guidelines + timeline, the ecosystem, user journey, and the financial aspects. It’s a lot. We have a company presentation next Monday for an hour. And in Stockholm we have 15 mins to present to 200+ industry people, companies and fellow Hyper students.
I’m stressed out to say the least. My group as a whole has been very productive but I’m still concerned we might be too wrapped up in our idea to look at it with a fresh perspective, and thus miss something vital. Not to mention I STILL don’t have an internship yet. Johanna and I have messaged AT LEAST 40 agencies…most don’t even get back to us. It’s so frustrating. I feel like we should have sent candy or something to bribe them. Maybe we still can… I just want things to get better.
So it’s obviously been a while since I’ve done a proper post. I guess the last time was with specialization which is way too effing long. Honestly, the blog has slipped my mind so often I wondered if I should just delete it. But now school has started up again and meeting all the new students who are so full of ambition and questions reminded me why I wanted to do this in the first place; to show others who are starting this Hyper journey into the creative field my own experience and opinions.
Anyway lets do a bit of an update, eh?
After specialization we had a “Running a Digital Agency” module where our groups were twice the size and we would have two clients to deal with. I was quite excited to work with new people and getting through the challenges. We named the agency Wallah Wasta and tried to get ourselves in order.
Our industry leader suggested that we split the group in half and try to handle clients in semi-groups. I was in the half for Good4Gaia. Their brief was the most confusing and incoherent I have seen at Hyper Island. The original brief was that we create a game for 8-15 yr olds and connecting third-world farmers with consumers, cutting out the middle-man. After our first skype meeting we became even more confused because we found out that the couple whose idea this was were interested in selling coffee actually. They weren’t a company but they wanted to become an umbrella company that would have many factions and hands in different pots. So after literally weeks trying to solve what they were, what they needed to do and what they wanted we decided the research would suggest that they just start with SOMETHING. So we decided to just do branding for them and since they were thinking of selling coffee we brainstormed how they could do it in a viable and unique way.
We had some group problems though, one member had really horrible family issue that took him out of the country and another…well, he’s always kind of been a slacker and wouldn’t show up most of the time so we were just 3 people doing concept work, renaming, branding and design for a start-up. And in too little time because we spent so much of it trying to get things straight with the client! [HELLA FRUSTRAIGHTING]
It was basically when I realized I don’t want to ever work with pro bono clients that A) Don’t already have solid business plans and B) the knowledge and passion to work with us constantly. Our clients had personal communication issues. One was in our town and the other in Oslo, the one in Oslo had the final say but worked at a different business and wasn’t really ever invested in what we were doing. He was usually the most logical but the woman who was local had this saving-the-world idea that was unrealistic. They also didn’t communicate with us often and in the end we had basically 3 weeks con conceptualize, produce and present.
In the end we did come up with solid work. I felt good working with Sam and Johanna, we were focused and dedicated and actually did a great fucking job even though our situation was shit. When we presented to a panel of industry leaders and our class they were really impressed with how it all worked out and that felt…wonderful! I want to be recognized more by my peers. I always value their opinion and criticism. And even though the team as a whole could have had a tighter culture and been better we definitely learned more about what it is we wanted to do and what we value.
It was also in this project that I realized I should go as a creative team on my internships. After talking to HI Alumni who worked with W+K Tokyo, I found that I’d have a better time with someone there and someone to support me and vice versa. So Johanna was my first choice. She has a similar educational background and we have similar skill sets but we are so very different and we can honestly bounce things back and forth. Thus JoNi was born (JOhanna/NIla)!
After that project summer hit me like a 84-ton tank! I headed back north, home to Edsbyn and promptly worked on making my website not look like shit and tried to get everything with JoNi, going. Johanna, my partner in crime, was on vacation traveling through the US so it was hard to communicate this summer but we got some stuff done. Lots of research, our branding, our site up and lookin’ good, and even contacted a lot of the agencies we want to do our internships at. Now we just need to get our portfolios from pretty good to HOLY CROWS! level.
Writing this our kind of makes it seem like I was productive this week…*laughs frantically!* NO, I mostly slept in until 2pm and read books (9 of them) with the cat. At the end of July, my sambo’s parents, he and I went on a trip to Geiranger fjord, Norway! It was INCREDIBLE!
Seriously the most beautiful place in the world! It was warm but not too hot, there was a perfect breeze, the water was cold and crystaline and get this…NO BUGS! Paradise.
After we got back Anders and I went to Getaway Rock Festival in Gävle like we do every year and it was again amazing! Saw Slayer for the first time and discovered some really amazing bands.
Now I am back in KNA and school has been going on a week. There are so many lovely new kids around that are so interesting and interested. Our first program manager, Måns, use to tell us to be interesting you have to be interested in others. Genuinely interested in them. And I somehow forgot about that!
But anyway. We had a few lectures to prepare us to work in-house for 10 weeks with our assigned companies. I’m in a group of 4 and are going to be creating a digital future for Albinsson & Sjöberg, a Scandinavian publisher who has 18 magazines, mostly motor mags. I’m excited to break them down and build something amazing with them! It’s only been a week since I got back. I already see it being hectic for the next 5 weeks. JoNi needs internship contracts, visa stuff, and finances out of the way. Not to mention starting to work with new people at a new company…and telling them what they are doing wrong. Nobody likes working with one thing for 30+ years and getting told by a few 20-somethings what to do. I’ll definitely try harder to blog consistently.