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Bright Digital Futures: DNS Interns

As September and school are just around the corner, we were reminded of last summer’s interns. In an effort to provide some meaningful digital experience to up-and-comers, we hired three bright young men to intern at Designing North Studio’s: Zach Furman, Max Peacock, and Matt Sorrentino.

All three had already dabbled in some form of project-based digital design and development for friends and/or for pay. Nigel (head of technology) and I created a practice project replete with a challenging client – I was that challenging client.

Their task was to develop a WordPress blog based on a purchased theme, which would utilize a number of plug-ins and widgets. Nigel introduced them to the Agile software management methodology, then aided them in establishing program timelines with scheduled sprints, as well as arranging for multiple weekly stand-ups, and weekly client meetings.

This week, as summer comes to a close, we checked back in with each of them to determine what they learned whilst at DNS, what they’re doing now, and where they see themselves in the next five years.

Zach Furman

  • What he’s doing now:

    • balloons-standford-zach-furmanZach will be a junior in high school this fall in the Bay Area. He’s already way ahead of the curve with experience in Python, Ruby, JavaScript, MySQL, HTML, CSS, MatLab, and jQuery. He’s been developing websites for an array of local clients for the last couple of years, and is an integral part of the Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSSI) – a student run collective that launches high-altitude balloons. Zach’s role on the team? He’s writing the algorithms for determining the balloon’s optimal altitude over the course of its flight. Imagine what he’ll do when he turns 18.
  • Top take-away from DNS internship:

    • “I already had some coding skills – I’m decent at that – but what I lacked were design skills. Lisa really helped me with making things look good – the way the client wants it.”
    • “I also learned how to deal with clients better. I learned a lot about communication, which has already come in handy in the last year.”
    • Zach said he put in about 70 hours on TreeHouse learning more about working with WordPress during the course of the internship, which he found beneficial as well.
  • Next five years:

    • Zach sees himself attending college after he graduates from high school and majoring in something in the sciences – maybe computer science or aeronautical engineering.

Max Peacock

  • What he’s  doing now:

    • Max will be starting his second year at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks. This summer he’s been working away at a local juice and smoothie shop, but he’s not just buzzing the blender. As a new small business, the shop hired a local high school kid to create its website and branding. After things got rolling, Max offered to dive-in and update the shop’s digital and physical image. He’s redesigned the menus, the window art, and now he’s about to embark on a website redesign.
  • Top take-away from DNS internship:

    • “I learned how to work with themes in WordPress, and how to install plug-ins, but the most challenging bit was learning how to work with clients. Lisa did a good job of being a tough client. We had to learn how to work with her without overstepping our boundaries.”
  • Next five years:

    • Max has one more year at Cabrillo, then he’ll transfer to a four-year college and major in graphic arts and communications. He prefers the creativity of the design side of the digital world to what he sees as the drier tech side. After obtaining his degree, he’d like to work for a big design firm to gain experience – and maybe one day open his own studio. Would he rather work for a big corporation within its design department? “No. I think that would be too limiting creatively and from an experience standpoint too. I think a large design firm would offer more variety in the way of different kinds and sizes of clients from different industries.”

Matt Sorrentino

  • What he’s doing now:

    • Matt has spent the summer working at a country club in New Jersey, sometimes caddying, and sometimes working indoors. He’s also continued to help out a buddy of his who runs a shoe company. Matt designs a variety of graphics for him. In a few weeks, Matt will start his senior year at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
  • Top take-away from DNS internship:

    • “Being in an authentic business environment with a “real” client and dealing with that real client was a big deal for me. We were on a regimented schedule and were working in a team environment. As a matter of fact, I used the experience I gained at Designing North in some of my school presentations this past year.”
    • “Another cool thing was that even though I was in New Jersey, we had no problem communicating as a team or with the client. We were able to accomplish a lot using Google Hang-Outs and email.”
  • Next five years:

    • Matt is finishing his BSA at William Paterson this school year, and is particularly interested in the publishing world. Print or digital? “Either one. I really like both print and digital, and would love to work for either an online or print magazine. I like the creative aspects of having each issue be different from the last, and therefore unconstrained creatively.”


The DNS take-away:

We were privileged to work with these three talented, aspiring guys. Being technically savvy and creatively talented is only half the equation to the successful conclusion of digital product design and development. Our interns learned how to work in a team atmosphere, and how to communicate with, and effectively manage, a client who wasn’t quite sure what she wanted. We are confident that each of these young digital dynamos will accomplish whatever they set their minds to. #BrightFutures

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