What makes a great intern?

We love interns at Wolff Olins because they bring the kind of new thinking that keeps us on our toes, and ask questions that make us reconsider assumptions.

We treat them as regular members of our community, inviting them to experiment and practice, interrogate our processes and introduce new ideas. They work on pitches, with clients, and sometimes on their own side projects.

So, what are we looking for when selecting interns? In many ways, the things that make a superstar intern are no different from what makes a great full-timer or freelancer: People who are optimistic for the world, and who believe that organizations can be both desirable and good. People who want to partner with ambitious leaders to design radically better businesses. People who are fearless and curious, and who find subversive delight in the words ‘it can’t be done.’ In fact, many of our past interns have ended up joining Wolff Olins community full time.

But interns are also a special breed – relatively new to the industry, and still teasing out what makes a good brand. As we start searching for interns in our New York and San Francisco offices this summer, we looked back at  our best from years past, thought about what we want our team to be like in future, and put together this list.

Natural curiosity
More than a specific set of experiences, what we’re really looking for is someone with a natural hunger to learn. We love people who are engaged with the world — who read widely, absorb culture, get lost down internet rabbit holes, and get out and explore. Rachel was studying both computer science and Middle Eastern studies, and in her free time, wrote culture pieces for the Awl. Marv toed the line between strategist and designer. (In fact, many of our people come in as part of one community, then jump to another.)

Fresh perspective
We help clients imagine new realities and make big shifts, so our people need fresh perspective. Our interns come from all over  — Japan, South Africa, India, Portugal, Slovenia, and Arkansas, Nebraska, Ohio, and California. We’ve had strategy interns like Hannah who studied architecture, program management interns like Katie who came to us with video production experience, and design interns like Sruthi who started in our NY office, then moved to Dubai, then London. It was such a treat for us when Mark — who had previously spent time as a Fulbright Scholar in China — led an office-wide share on Chinese innovation. The point is, no matter what they’ve done before, the best ones make us more imaginative.  

Confidence x EQ
We’re collaborative and our work involves a great deal of cross-pollination. We like it when people sense when to step up, and when to listen and learn. Self awareness is key. Liz, for example, came to came to us with strong foundation of UX design knowledge, but still sought input from other people to learn more.

Always can-do
In his first week at Wolff Olins, Harry put together what remains to this day one of our favorite posts in the history of our blog. Stephanie asked insightful questions about our social media strategy, leading our marketing team to rethink our Insta. Our Strategy Director Zami describes the attitude best:

“A great intern doesn’t let any day slip by as a quiet one. They’re perceptive and resourceful, always spotting opportunities, from chipping in on new business, to joining another team’s brainstorm, or helping to set up Family Lunch, they’re never short of ways to help.”

Playful spirit
Everyone should enjoy the ride here, and our best interns dive in. Simon taught us Aussie slang. Katie joined our soccer team, WOFC. Nejc was making art on the side and invited us to one of his shows. We like to bring on people, not resumes.

Sound like you?

Apply to one of our current openings by March 15th. We look forward to meeting you!

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