I remember it so clearly: the feeling of stepping into the open lecture hall–ready for my professor to begin the lecture for our class, Design Placement. The room started filling up as friends got together and awaited that week’s alumni speaker. I also remember the rush of preparing for my internship and sending out emails to different recruiters — sitting down with classmates, just ranting about all the decisions we had to make. This was just over a year ago, pre-covid, pre-global-pandemic, pre-life-changing-event-that-changed-everything.
Earlier that year, I was looking at a lot of different design studios. I even started exploring the idea of going to an environmental design studio or any opportunities that would let me have more unorthodox experiences. At this time, I also wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I figured: as long as I get to meet and work alongside some design professionals, it’ll be a great opportunity to learn. However, as soon as the pandemic hit and places started to shut down during the first wave, many of these opportunities and positions had to be delayed or even cancelled. This was a very unsure time — I remember there being a panic among all of us as to what we were going to do. We did need an internship to fulfill the course, if nothing else.
I have to admit, being an indecisive person who considered themselves as a ‘multi-disciplinary designer’ definitely helped me out at that point. I had applied to a variety of different internships and was open to anything. Placements were getting cancelled left and right and it started to become a race to secure a position by the summer. I guess by then, nobody could really afford to be too selective. For me, it was mostly about sitting and waiting. I had already reached out to many people about possible internships and there wasn’t much left to do.
As time passed by, I did start to get those dreadful rejection emails except this time, there was the added twist of the pandemic. Even some placements that had considered me before were sending notification emails about their internship cancellations. Thankfully, soon after that, I heard back from one of my earlier applications. After going through the zoom interviewing process, I was offered work with Regenesis’ York University chapter: a non-profit community environmental organization. Working at Regenesis meant that I was able to work on a variety of projects, including both design projects as well as more hands-on activities. I also got to learn what it’s like to communicate mainly through slack messages and e-mails. Although I did not have the chance to meet new designers, I did get the freedom of working independently from the comfort of my own bed. I also got to paint banners that were bigger than my entire body, so who could’ve expected that.
It definitely wasn’t what I expected, but in a way, it allowed me to have the confidence to revise and present my own work as well as make recommendations and changes to previous designs. My opinions were truly valued and I felt important and heard while I was there. Many of the people I met had a much different background than me and I definitely did not work at a design office but I still managed to work on more hands-on projects and create promotional materials. I think before the pandemic, people put too much pressure on where and who you work with for your internship. This huge change allowed me to stress a little bit less on where I went and what kind of work I had to do. I was just happy to have a chance to be working with an environmental organization with a fun and accommodating group of people. Once you are forced into extreme circumstances, you stop worrying about some of the things that seemed so impactful and important before. It honestly changed my entire perspective and overall, I was just glad to meet new people — even if it was through an unstable connection and glitching zoom screen.
Paniz Adiban is one of the graduates of the York/Sheridan Program in Design class of 2021. Catch Paniz’s work showcased at the online graduate showcase on April 20–21. Visit ysdn2021.com for more details.