Lessons from a BatesMeron Design Intern

May 9, 2018 | by Adam Barkley

My time at BatesMeron has been an enlightening experience. In this agency setting I have been able to put classroom concepts and tools to practice in the “real world.” Like most new things, it was a mixed bag of emotions: excitement, nervousness, eagerness and fear. I went in expecting a few things, like I’d get a glance at this world my professors love to preach about and make use of the skill set that I’ve been working so diligently on. There are also a few new things that I’ve learned from my time as a BatesMeron intern that I can take away with me moving forward.



The Art of Presentation. It’s All In the Detail.

Going into this experience, I thought I knew what it was to be a perfectionist. Being a part of our capitalistic society, one misstep or error can result in losing potential business or damaging the reputation of a company. Here, I’ve learned the value of attention to detail, even down to an extra space on a document that no one might ever see. It’s all about marketability and putting your best foot forward. Don’t leave anything to chance or risk damaging your image.


Work Hard, Play Hard

During my second week as a green intern, I was asked to help restock the company beer mini-fridge. This was not something I foresaw doing but certainly made an impression. Something I really appreciate about the people here is the unparalleled work ethic and drive, but taking time to have fun after.



Failing is Learning

You will fail numerous times. It will be extremely frustrating, disheartening and make you want to give up. It’s your choice to try to learn from these slip-ups or allow it to become a downward spiral. A lyric from the musical Hamilton comes to mind, “I am the one thing in life I can control.” Regardless of what happens to you or around you, it’s up to you to decide how to react to the situation.


Willingness to Learn

This is a good transition from learning from failure. You’ll never grow and evolve as an artist, creator, copywriter, entrepreneur, individual etc. if you’re not receptive to learning. Throughout my internship, I got a reality check that there will always be room to improve and skills to be gained. The point of an internship is a learning experience at its core. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—you’ll look back and only see a missed opportunity.



During my 140 hrs. at the office, I found myself being left to my work while everyone was in meetings with clients for several hours. I learned quickly to do the best with what I’m given. In the real world, you won’t have someone holding your hand every step of the way. Regardless of how frustrating it can be, independence is a valuable asset. Don’t get me wrong, teamwork and collaboration are equally if not more important, but finding the perfect ratio is what I found to be the key to success.



My biggest takeaway from being a BatesMeron creative intern is the insight into a design firm dynamic; the team of designers, copywriters, account service and fellow interns work together and allow specialties to complement each other. The scurrying of multiple dogs was also a huge highlight of my week and will be missed dearly. I’m appreciative of my time at BatesMeron and the opportunity given to me.

I will be ending my junior year at Columbia College Chicago at the completion of this internship. I will be finishing up my degree in graphic design and photography next year. I am very excited and nervous. I’m always hesitant to talk about future plans because it’s never certain, but I would be thrilled to establish myself in Chicago, a city I fell in love with.

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