The Internship Chronicles – Sophia Penna

By Sophia Penna (GDDM ’19)

Over the course of my time studying at the Champlain Montreal Campus I  held an internship at Rank Media Agency as their graphic design intern. Rank first opened their doors in 2009 and has grown to an international scale. As a design agency they work with their clients helping them to grow their businesses, through creative design and custom marketing strategies based on their goals. Rank works with their clients to build upon their brand through an integrated approach where creativity meets technology. The staff is welcoming, helpful, and in constant communication.

At Rank I was able to build upon the knowledge I had learned from my prior studies. I was assigned daily tasks that were later critiqued by my supervisor, Ryan. He would then review my designs with me and go through any revisions he recommended and why. Through the company chat channel, Slack, we would often send links to resources, files, and even color swatches when working on projects. Any clarifying questions could be easily answered through this chat system. This portal was used throughout the office to keep the interns in the loop of any office plans and activities. The design team has their own closed group as a way to communicate interesting websites to draw inspiration from as well as to arrange creative meetings.

The first creative meeting I sat in on was about two weeks after I had started my internship there. My supervisor decided to call everyone together on a Wednesday morning to talk about the creative process. I found this meeting to be very insightful. He urged us to take the time to research before jumping into a new project. Research helps us figure out what may work for a project and inspire new ideas. He also urged us to take the time to read about new design tactics and look for any conferences or online programs designed to teach those tactics. We discussed ways to share inspiration such as fun websites that were well designed or companies doing interesting things through packaging and ad campaigns. We also talked about new programs that may be fun to test out for upcoming projects that would make the designs easier to create and share with the team.

I enjoyed working on the tasks that were assigned to me. I was often given two to three tasks daily, some were ongoing projects such as the video. While it may have seemed like a lot to be given, I would often switch between tasks during the review process so I had something to occupy my time with. During my time at Rank I edited photos and I put together social media posts, e-books, catalogs, project portfolios and even a short animated video. Some of these tasks had a template to work from, such as the ongoing social media posts. However, many of the projects I was able to build a template myself based on designs previously made for those clients. This allowed for creativity as well as research to put something together to best suit the design’s purpose.

The work that was assigned to me allowed me to branch out and meet the different people working in the office. I spent a lot of time working with the marketing department and the head of social media during my time at Rank. This allowed for a number of different projects, I wasn’t limited to just one area of design. My work space  changed somewhat frequently. I was often kept close to the design team and sat in the empty seats of the members when they went on a vacation or were simply just out for the day. On days when all members of the design team were present I was placed in an empty seat in the marketing row directly across from the design team. This made for easy communication with my supervisor for any clarification on projects as well as easy communication with the marketing department as I started to do more work for them. After the completion of the first e-book I designed I was later asked to design a series of e-books in-house for Rank based off of some of their blog posts.

These designs were meant to be attention grabbing yet simple and because they were being designed for Rank they had to follow the brand identity. Keeping these guidelines in mind, I looked at what other e-books were doing in terms of layout, what worked and what didn’t. I then designed a series of pages to be reviewed by my supervisor. We sat down and looked through them together to decide which direction to go in. We decided on a simple layout with contrasting colors to make the points pop. We brought in the site’s secondary color swatches to keep on-brand while adding a brighter pop of color to the spreads. Minor adjustments were made throughout the process of critiques and revisions upon completion of the e-book.

Rank taught me about working with a team, and communication between the different departments. I found my experience at Rank to be incredibly insightful and beneficial. While working there I was encouraged to talk to different members of the team and get to know everyone which made my first few weeks at the agency an easy transition. Once of my initial challenges at first was overcoming my shyness in this new setting. I found that the more time I spent with my colleagues working on projects, eating lunch together, a midday Starbucks run and the office “cinq à septs” (happy hour) helped me get to know the people I was working with thus helping me feel more comfortable in the office.

I enjoyed my time at Rank and was saddened to leave at the end of the semester. I will take with me the experience and knowledge I have gained while working at this company and I will carry it with me through my final year at Champlain and beyond.