Meet Sam. Originally from Belfast, Sam is a 3rd year Graphic Design student at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), and for the past 6 months has been working as an intern in our Amsterdam Studio. We caught up with Sam towards the end of his internship to find out how he’s been getting on, what he’s been getting up to, and what’s next for him…
Hi Sam! So tell us, what made you apply for an internship at Design Bridge Amsterdam?
I was fortunate enough to visit several creative agencies during a university class trip to Amsterdam, which included Design Bridge. We were given a great presentation by Jason Kempen, one of the Creative Directors here, who told us all about the Studio and what it’s like to work and live in Amsterdam. Jason mentioned the Amsterdam Studio’s internship programme and encouraged us to send him our portfolios if we were interested.
I got a good feel for the Studio’s atmosphere during my visit and was really impressed by the amazing work Jason shared with us, plus Amsterdam has a great vibe and there’s so much to do here, so I was really hooked on the prospect of doing an internship. I sent my portfolio over and a few months later, here I was!
If you had to choose, what would your top 3 highlights be?
That’s a tough one as I’ve had so many great experiences. Firstly would probably be just meeting the team. The Studio is incredibly diverse with dozens of nationalities and professional backgrounds in one place, and I’ve felt like I’ve been learning something new about different cultures or the industry every day. Plus being surrounded by such a talented team has been incredibly inspiring for me as a designer. Settling in came very naturally, especially as there are plenty of regular social traditions to get involved in, like (often themed) afternoon tea on Wednesdays. That was a great way to get to know everyone quickly.
Second would be seeing how a large project I worked on evolved and developed during my time here. The project was for a massive global coffee brand, and it’s been fascinating to see how such a large-scale project comes together over time. It’s also a great feeling to see elements I contributed to being included in the mix.
Lastly would be simply exploring Amsterdam and the surrounding areas. It’s such a great place to visit with so much to see and do. The Netherlands is very photogenic, which for someone who loves to take pictures like me is a big added bonus. In fact, I took most of the photos on this blog post!
Has your internship changed your ambitions as a designer?
It has massively, and the whole experience has been incredibly affirming for me. I think that during university it’s normal to doubt yourself and your abilities. I sure did both. However, coming here and getting stuck in to real-world work has given me so much more confidence than I had before. Working in such a fast-paced work environment has really sped up how fast I can tackle a project, which feels like a big hurdle for a lot of students in university.
If anything, spending time in a living-breathing studio helps to demystify the whole design process, and it’s definitely given me a much clearer understanding of how the industry works.
Given what you’ve learnt, what advice would you give a design student looking for a placement or internship?
Some really practical advice would be to take a good amount of time to look at places to rent as it can be difficult to find accommodation on a student budget, especially if left to the last minute. It’s also worth looking just outside the city like I did as the rent can be lower and the areas generally quieter. The DB team were really helpful with things like helping me work out a travel route for my daily commute.
Buying a bike to get around is also a given – it is Amsterdam after all! There are countless bike shops all over the city and many sell affordable secondhand bikes, so it’s worth visiting a few reputable stores to find one to use during your time here.
Something I regret not doing in advance is picking up a museum card. There are some amazing museums here in Amsterdam, but nearly all of them charge an expensive entry fee. A museum card lets you bypass these fees and, while the card may seem expensive at first, it’ll likely save you a considerable amount in the long run.
What’s next, Sam?
My time here is almost up and it has been an amazing experience. I’m much more confident in myself as a designer now, so there’ll be no doubt that I’ll be back in Amsterdam after I graduate. I would be thrilled to take on a permanent designer role with the great folks here, but even outside of work Amsterdam is just a great place to visit.
Thanks Sam! We hope to see you again soon…
Are you curious to hear about internship opportunities in our Amsterdam Studio? We are currently taking applications from 2nd and 3rd years design students for the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year. Please get in touch with Intern_Amsterdam@designbridge.com to find out more.