I began my search for an internship in advance of arriving in Montreal. Working with Gigi Danforth was a pleasure. Less than a week following our initial Skype meeting, Gigi contacted me with an opportunity at an interactive web design firm, by the name of Kngfu. I had some concern in finding the right internship. As a graphic design major, the idea of making bad logos and creating cheap advertising collateral for an entire semester worried me. When Gigi put me in touch with Kngfu my anxieties were calmed. Kngfu was not that kind of firm.
Kngfu’s main clients are public cultural institutions and small startups. This allows their work to focus on truly interesting projects, not just work purely for a paycheck. They have worked with the Centre des Science Montréal, Montréal Planétrium, and radio.ca among many others.
I started my internship the first week I was in Montreal. On the ninth floor overlooking Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, I found a laid back creative studio. Desks were constructed from unfinished planks of wood and life revolved around the espresso machine. Immediately I began working side by side with the User Experience designer at the firm. The first project I was assigned to was a mobile application. My job was to assist the UX designer in designing the user interface and user experience of the entire mobile application from the ground up.
My work with the project started day one and I had the opportunity to be a part of all stages of the creative process. I worked from research phase to the initial sketches. Then from sketches all the way to the first low resolution wireframe mockups. In less than a month and a half I saw the project move from an idea all the way to the first prototype, with many of my own design ideas being implemented. A few weeks after I began work I was invited to take part in my first client meeting. The meeting was conducted entirely in French, but I did my best to contribute. Speaking only one language has created many obstacles at my internship, but none of them are insurmountable. At Kngfu you will hear more French than English, but my coworkers have been incredibly kind and patient so it is not a problem.
The mobile application will not be ready for release until after I am complete with my semester in Montreal, but the accomplishment I feel from working on a project of this size for a real client is unlike any other design work I have done. There is a definite feeling of empowerment when you know people will see your work and that it has concrete purpose. My undergraduate degree has given me the skills to get where I am today, but this internship gave me a glimpse at all of the learning and experience that can only come from professional work.
In design classes at Champlain College I’m rarely working in groups. Working in a real firm for the first time I had the opportunity to work on a team. From the start I was directly integrated as a part of the design team. Each person knows there roles and fulfills them. There are creative directors, front-end developers, back-end developers, and project managers and they all share in different responsibilities. At Kngfu the people I worked were probably more important to my development and learning that the actual projects were. As a graphic designer I was surprised to learn that there was not a single employee with the job title ‘Graphic Designer’ at Kngfu. Graphic design is activity that almost all employees take part in, in their own varying ways.
At Kngfu I have an amazing opportunity to learn about how graphic design is actually applied in the real world. I get to work on real projects for real clients that get real exposure. In one case I even worked on a professional project for one of my professors at Champlain College in Montreal. This opportunity was unrivaled in terms of my professional development and in terms of my greater development as a creative thinker and producer. All of this is thanks to the assistance of Gigi Danforth and everyone at the Department of International Studies.
– Jack Betelak, Graphic Design Major, Spring 2015