I am Grace Hall, an innovative, creative, and enthusiastic junior at Davidson College. At Davidson, I am a Political Science Major and intended Digital Studies Minor. This fall, I was a member of the XPL 199 class, where I was able to receive class credit for my virtual internship with InformEd International. During my internship with InformEd, I focused on working with Learning Links, InformEd’s social enterprise. I helped with redesigning the pitch deck and icons for the app, along with designing the new logo. When submitting my learning agreement, I wanted to gain confidence in my design work and my freelance working capabilities. I wanted to see if this would be a career path I would like to follow in the future. I knew designing without harsh guidelines or expectations was going to be a different experience than I have had in the past. But, I feel like I have gained a lot of confidence and trust in my design work through this process.
Throughout this internship, I learned a great deal about myself as an employee. I compare my balance of work with the three other classes I was taking to the idea of freelancing and having multiple clients. The time management balance was difficult at first, but with set deadlines and an hour-by-hour planner, I was able to manage my time effectively. I have been learning how to adjust my design vision to fit that of my employer. Graphic design is a complex form of art, and while it may not be in a museum, it is still a medium for personal expression. Navigating the fine line between being hired based on a personal design aesthetic and translating that into professional work can be difficult. I learned how to use constructive feedback to bring someone else’s vision to life, which is a skill I’m excited to take into my future career as a creative person.
A cultural audit is a study of a company’s culture. The results from cultural audits encourage positive work behaviors, change negative work conditions, and help management foster an overall positive work environment. Company culture is typically evaluated on artifacts and creations, art, and basic assumptions (Driskill & Brenton 38). For my cultural audit, I spoke with my supervisor, Billi, about her thoughts on InformEd and the company dynamic. During my cultural audit of InformEd International, I focused on the creation of InformEd, which directly impacted the company culture. The team came together because of a project they worked on together for their previous employers. They noticed they had shared values and beliefs, which helped form the company culture they work in today. Their pre-COVID-19 workspace facilitated open communication, one of their founding principles, and helped foster innovation and teamwork. While COVID-19 impacted InformEd’s company culture, even over Google Meet you can tell this team has a powerful set of shared beliefs and values that drive everything they do.
I struggled to find an ethical case study that matched InformEd’s ethical dilemmas; this struggle came mainly from the fact that InformEd works diligently to work ethically. I took elements from the Miss Saigon, Christina Fallin, and Artic Offshore Drilling Case Studies (ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu). These case studies focused on appropriation, attribution, representation, and framing (ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu). InformEd works mainly in third world countries with education programs that help minors. Therefore, the marketing tactics they use to both promote their business and showcase their work need to be sensitive to the people they are helping. Both the director of Miss Saigon and Christina Fallin chose to appropriate cultures and identities using stereotypes. InformEd needs to market their services to stay in business, but they work very hard to make sure their marketing is ethical and honest. As someone interested in working in marketing, I had not thought about the implications marketing and advertising can have on public perception and stereotypes. This made me think about the ethics of marketing and if it is fair to perpetuate a stereotype.
I feel I learned important lessons about myself and what I want my life to look like post-Davidson. I loved working with design and digital art mediums, but I missed working with social media. I also learned how to work virtually from the start of a job to the end. I do not know how long working from home will last, but now I feel better prepared for the potential of starting a job virtually.
Learning how to manage my time and working virtually due to COVID-19 has helped me gain skills I will be able to take into my future careers. I will consider freelance design work as a potential career, but probably not right after graduating. I like the idea of having an office I go to and a company I work for, at least for the beginning of my career.
I loved getting to be a part of the early stages of Learning Links. Working with early branding, marketing, and design, makes me feel like I’m an important part of a company. I also enjoyed working on a project that was trying to create positive change. While I am not a full-time member of InformEd, I still enjoyed being a part of helping Learning Links progress, because I get to be a part of the positive change Learning Links will bring to the world. This experience reaffirmed my interest in social enterprises and start-up companies.