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design internship the foundry

My time on the Notepad Foundry

Hello, Im Josh.

It’s nice to meet you. 

I am a designer from the midlands who this year has graduated from BCU (Birmingham City University). I love exhibitions, art, designers with really complicated names that are hard to pronounce, communities, collaboration and my cats. After graduating, I applied for Notepad’s internship scheme The Foundry, and a couple interviews later I’ve spent the last two month learning and working with them as a design intern.

Won’t lie, it’s pretty dope.



Coming from other internships and placements, I instantly knew I wanted to stay in Fazeley with this team, and the reason why is what would inspire my response to the first brief I was given: To brand the Foundry scheme itself.

The Audience and purpose of an internship
Young designers all across Birmingham are looking for places to start out.
Whether that be through full time working positions, work experience or the fabled internship.
The general consensus, is to go to a rather big agency, put in the time working for free until you are either selected for progression or have enough credit on your CV to go job hunting somewhere else. It can be quite hectic trying to get a placement that will let you work on live projects, be in a nice part of town, teach you the workings of agency life AND pay you for your time, so it’s often that a young designer will have to compromise on one or more of these in order to get the clout they need to kick off their career. 



Reaching out to the target audience
When branding the Foundry, I wanted to make sure that young designers and graduates knew that by going to this particular agency, they would not only receive all of the desires listed above, but would also be encouraged to be themselves.The challenge was to communicate to passionate and young designers, that Notepad values both professionalism and individuality. My answer to this challenge, was to create a brand that could change to reflect each intern that joins Notepad, effectively inviting the new face to be apart off the team, and the brand itself. This response was largely inspired by the core brand value “to nurture creative talent and give it a home in Birmingham”. 

Insight and research
Research on other design internship opportunities and the feedback from students and budding designers showed that the main competitors in Birmingham are large, corporate and impersonal, often giving the feeling that the intern-to-be needs the company much more than the company needs the intern. Research from case studies on contemporary brands such as Birmingham Design Festival and &Walsh also provided inspiration for something changeable, with an immediate effect on the office culture.
It was clear that what I wanted to communicate about the Foundry was not just what Notepad could offer one lucky intern at a time, but also what that one lucky intern could offer Notepad. 




The main components

The branding then broke down into two fundamental parts: The part that changes, and the part that stays the same. The final conclusion, was to have a space for the intern to put whatever they wanted, whatever they thought expressed themselves and their approach to design, accompanied by strong, simple typography. This allows for their personal stamp to be seen as important and a fundamental value of both the Foundry brand and Notepad and the use of consistent, strong typography that tethers the abstract to a more formal and agency setting. 

The mechanics
Each intern is given a dot, taken from Notepad’s own branding (which features an ellipsis) that they are then asked to put whatever they think represents them as a person and designer in it. This could be anything from a design representing themselves, or a skill they find gives them an edge as a designer (photography, illustration, motion graphics, 3D renders etc). This is then the branding for the Foundry until the next intern is hired. Their design is printed, and included on the Foundry wall, next to the other previous interns work, and their dot is included in posters and promotional material for the foundry. As more and more dots get created, an anticipation grows for what the next rebrand will look like, for that the next intern will bring to the team, and becomes something to be anticipated by both staff and prospective interns. The end goal is to create something inclusive, whereas so many other internship opportunities are cold and anxiety inducing, Notepad’s the Foundry stands as an opportunity for young, passionate and professional designers to not only get started in the industry, but also to help it grow. 


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