To the next design intern

To the next design intern,

The term “design lead” may sound like a very glamorous role. Like most eager interns, I couldn’t wait to be given the opportunity to lead a design project. Little did I realise how much work it took for the role. From my first-hand experience leading two consecutive design projects, I can honestly say that it is not the case. It is true that as design lead you have the most power in affecting the final design but as the great Benjamin Franklin Parker once said, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’

Design Intern hard at work

Try not be too eager to lead a project. It was a very humbling experience for me as I realised that being a good design student does not necessarily mean that you will be a good design lead. Take your time in shadowing different projects and learn from different design leads. Observe how they plan a project and see how meticulous they are in executing it. This step is important as it gives a layout on how you should run a project when the time comes for you to be a design lead.

Once you become a design lead, take your time to understand the scope and requirements of the project from the client. Remember, it is always better to take down more notes rather than taking down too little. Clarify any doubts you have before you start the project it will allow you to plan and allocate your time accordingly.

It is very important for a design lead to have foresight, the ability to foresee what challenges you might face when completing and allocating the appropriate time to complete. This honestly requires a lot of experience and in most cases you’ll end up staying at work later to complete it ( mostly due to bad time allocation). Don’t worry if this happens, it happens to most of us. Just push through and you’ll be fine! Alternatively, during the planning phase, get help from the more experienced design leads to take a look at your project timeline. They’ll most probably be able to spot whether you’ve placed proper thought in the allocation of time for different tasks.

The people working in the office is your biggest asset. After understanding your scope and requirements and setting up a timeline, find ways to delegate certain tasks to your colleagues. Not only will this make use of the limited time of the project effectively, but also having people from different fields helping the project gives you different insights. Don’t be too egoistic or scared to delegate the work. A good designer knows their capabilities and understands that if a design is to be good, they have to delegate certain tasks to ensure that the design is of the best quality.

Which brings me to the next point of being decisive. When you have more people helping in the project, it is impossible to keep to the original design entirely. This is where your decisiveness and your knowledge comes in. As a design lead, you must remember that the reason why you have the most say in the design is because you have the best understanding of the design scope and requirements given by the client. Politely take in any suggestions or feedback given by others and only choose to make changes if you feel it is justified based off the requirements.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human! Being a design lead is not easy, especially if it is your first time. Just give it your all, and you’ll be fine. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is what the team is for after all!

Take care I believe in you.

With love,

Syam Hussain (Best Sander, June 2019)

PS: Congratulations on wasting 5 minutes of your allocated project time, back to work!