The Discerning Intern…
Studio Notes | What We’ve Been Up To
Studio Notes | What We’ve Been Up To
Sean Casey, Service Designer, reflects on his experience as an intern at Context Studio…
I joined Context Studio in September 2022 as part of the studio’s internship program, having recently completed my master’s degree in Design Innovation from Maynooth University. I was hoping to pursue a career in Service Design I saw it as good first step in this direction.
The internship lasted six months, and in March 2023 I made the exciting move up to a permanent position as a Service Designer with the studio, which is where I have been working since!
The studio is growing, and with that, we’re hoping to soon welcome another intern to the team, so I thought I’d write a little bit about my own experience…
Throughout my internship I was exposed to many aspects of service design work. We’re a small team with multiple ongoing projects, so the work is highly varied and that meant I was always learning.
Some of my first responsibilities involved practical tasks with research data. This involved extracting quotes from interview and workshop recordings, and synthesising these into draft insights and findings. This work was great for getting me immersed and familiar with the studio’s ongoing projects, and using the methods I had learned in university, but now business setting, meant I learned to make them more efficient and was constantly improving my workflows.
A lot of my work also involved the planning and facilitation of design workshops, both online and in person. During a project with the Irish Heart Foundation I had the chance to facilitate in–person for the first time…this might sound strange, but I studied during the pandemic, so in-person workshops were something new for me! Even so, with the support of the team, I was trusted to facilitate client teams and learned tonnes from the experience.
We’ve continued to work with Irish Heart Foundation, and I’ve since had the opportunity to lead in planning and conducting research interviews, creating system maps and service blueprints, and presenting our work to the CEO and Senior Management Team of the organisation.
Another project I’ve spent a lot of time on was our work with Dublin City Council, co-designing a new participation and consultation process for Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs). The subject matter of this project required that I get familiar with best practice in accessibility, and applying that practice to the design of workshops and creating assets and materials for city councillors, council official, and DPO representatives.
I even had the opportunity to experiment with generative AI tools with the aim to make accessible documentation easier to produce, as well as plenty of workshop facilitation, blueprinting and prototyping work.
I had a lot of responsibility and independence during the internship, which meant I also learned a lot about managing my own work as well as improving my communication and collaboration skills when working with the team.
Context Studio is also very involved with the wider design network in Ireland, and with this comes a lot of opportunities to attend interesting events and conferences around the country. During my time, I got to attend the Design in Government conference, GASP! in Limerick (where the evening ended with Limerick staple “Chicken Hut” chicken eaten in the hotel reception!), while more recently I attended Dublin Tech Summit, and other IDI, SDN & IXDA events where I made tonnes of new connections to other designers in Ireland!
If you’re considering an internship to start your Service Design career, I would say be ready to learn, to take on responsibility and be transparent about what you want to get out of the experience.
I may be biased, but here at Context Studio, John and the team are great mentors and they will be on hand to help you work towards your strengths. This should be the case wherever you find your internship opportunity.