I finished up my last-ish week at Naterra and while I’ve had my ups and downs in this internship, I was sad to leave. The art director was out of the office for the week so I was the point person for all ongoing projects as well as for immediate image requests. I definitely felt like a chicken running around with its head cut off on Monday but it got better as the week went on. Over the course of the week, I realized what I had actually learned over the course of the summer as I was able to do a variety of different tasks without any direction. It was definitely a satisfying feeling, but also a little bittersweet because I felt like I was just settling in.
While I would consider this experience more of a “summer job” rather than an “internship,” I think I definitely gained a realistic perspective of a career in the package design industry. I think calling this an “internship” would be inaccurate because there was no structure for the internship itself. Not to say that I didn’t learn anything, but I was hired more as a junior freelance designer who had never worked in consumer package design.
If I compare my summer to a structured internship and see what other interns are offered (aka Cali), I feel like I would be egregiously dissatisfied. However, the intern culture in Texas and in other places is entirely different. In Texas there is no concept of providing employees with a plethora of benefits so they enjoy their work/stay later to finish. This is due in part to the age range of the employees. Many of my co-workers were older and had families they were supporting, so staying at the office late is not an option. On top of that, it seems like Texan businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Sadly, many employers in Texas aren’t even willing to give medical benefits to full-time employees, much less give other benefits (gym membership, discounts, etc). Even at Naterra, I felt as if the final line came down to making as many sales as possible (even though it wasn’t my department/team). While I think at the end of the day finances are important, the CEO isn’t focused on the environment facilitating creativity. He just wanted products that can sell. And that’s another thing, each industry requires a different amount of creativity. I was surprised that at least the Art Director (in-house and a one-man-show mind you), who is really an irreplaceable part of the company, didn’t really get any special creative space/gadgets. Maybe my generation of designers is spoiled that we’ve had this expectation set up that we will always have cool gadgets and unlimited access to odhwallas/coconut water/beer wherever we work. I know I’m guilty of fantasy, although working at Naterra has also shown me the other side of the coin. I think there should be a balance of both, which I hope to find in the future.
Get Lucky by Daft Punk