When Marcos Chavez first began his career as a graphic designer he had the opportunity to work as an intern. Working at an established design firm gave him exposure to what real work-life would be like and he found it to be a very useful experience. Today Marcos is the owner of the design bureau TODA and over the years his staff has included several international interns including designers from Sweden.
Marcos’ first connection to Sweden came when TODA was hired by the Swedish brand Orrefors to handle their marketing and advertising in North America. Through this relationship he became connected to many Swedish creative professionals and formed friendships that lead to designers reaching out to TODA for internship positions. By offering internships to young professionals, Marcos feels he is giving back to the design/education community by providing other young designers with training and experience. For some companies having extra staff to help is reason enough to have interns, but for many other firms that is simply not enough of a reason. So I asked Marcos what other positive effects his foreign interns have on his company.
As many of TODA’s clients are global, it becomes important for them to have good understanding of different cultures and ways of thinking. Since its founding, TODA has had had an ongoing internship program which has included students from all corners of the world including Scandinavia, Europe, Asia and Brazil. “Having interns brings a broader perspective for our staff. As designers we are called in to work on brands and marketing efforts for many kinds of people from various cultures. We must be able to empathize with varied audiences including people from cultures outside of the United States. Having interns work with us from different parts of the world strengthens our view point and helps us do better work.” says Marcos.
TODA’s business is all about relationships. For Marcos it is also important that they have both stability and change at the same time when it comes to their staff. That’s why he likes having interns as it ensures that new ideas are always coming into his office. “Without our internship program,” Marcos explains, “we wouldn’t have as strong of a global perspective would be more isolated and local in our way of thinking. We would have less tools to work with and our international interns has made the world a smaller and more exciting place.”
The postitive effects from having interns do not stop when the internship ends. “We try to keep in touch with everyone who has spent time at TODA and many times internships transition to friendships (which is always great). Sometime interns not only become friends but become collaborative partners or clients. We’ve had many interns leave our office and come back to us as established professionals.” Marcos explains.
Another positive effect comes with the fact that interns cost less than regular employees and this is a benefit not only to the host firm, but to the intern. Marcos says, “As interns do not cost as much as a regular employee the expectations are not the same, the pressure to preform is less as the experience is about learning. This extra freedom is enjoyed both by the intern as well as the host company as interns make it possible to experiment with projects, try new things which we otherwise couldn’t afford.”
About the intern’s visa process Marcos explains, “the process of getting an international intern is not as complicated as it might seem. The responsibility is more on the intern than on me. Having organizations like the SACC are a big help in making the arrangements. For me, the applications are quite easy to fill out and well worth it.”
Read an interview with Linda Öström, Graphic Design Intern at Toda New York: http://www.sacc-usa.org/