Design insights & tutorials.

Interns Inc., Vol. 2

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Hey everyone!   My name’s Max and I’m one of Go Media’s interns for this summer.  I’ve been here since early July but this is my first post for our Zine.  I’ve bounced around several of Cleveland’s fine institutions of higher education and am currently a junior at Cleveland State University studying promotional communication, mass media and graphic design.  I was born in New York City but have called Cleveland home for the last 16 out of my 20 years.

When I’m not in the office, you can find me clutching a guitar (usually my beloved Telecaster), checking out a show at The Grog Shop or Now That’s Class, or stuffing myself at Ohio City Burrito.

For my first post, I thought it’d be interesting to talk about my experience at Go Media coming from a non-traditional design background.  I’m sure a lot of our readers come from fine arts backgrounds so I thought I’d talk about things from a different perspective:

LOVE OF THE UNKNOWN: Why It’s Important Not To Know Everything

I’ve performed in front of thousands of people, snowboarded down mountains and circumnavigated the entire United States.  Save for roller coasters and Fox News, there isn’t that much that scares or intimidates me.  But my internship at Go Media was different: It was my first long period of time spent working in a professional setting.  Not only just with people whom I knew were good at what they did, but with people I truly looked up to and greatly respected – leaders in their respective fields.

I knew something was off when I showed up for my interview in a suit and tie and was greeted by people in t-shirts and jeans.  I found myself stammering, rambling, exaggerating, forgetting the responses I had rehearsed the night before.  I guess my interviewers saw some faint glimmer of hope through that shroud of nervous energy because the next thing I knew, I was climbing the stairs at W. 45th and Lorain to start my first day.

There’s something else you should know about me before I go on.  I don’t go to art school anymore.  I did for a semester and when I was there I hated it.  Of course, there are a lot of other things I can tell you about myself as well:  I am a designer, guitarist, songwriter, traveler and chronic overthinker.  Most of my interests have evolved out of a love for music and skateboarding.  I taught myself Photoshop when I was 13 years old and the desire to design & create began to manifest itself into most aspects of my life.  It was this desire that has led me to discover an amazing creative culture here in my hometown of Cleveland, and ultimately what led me to my internship here at Go Media.

But I digress:  I hated the seven-hour studios, the endlessly negative critiques and the general malaise and pomposity of the average art & design student who thinks they’re God’s gift to the art world because they can slap a few sentimental words in bold type on top of a grainy Photoshop-filtered photo of a river or a street and call themselves “designers.”

Okay, I’m rambling a little bit and I don’t want to knock art school too much -  I’m sure there are thousands of people who have had positive experiences with it, but it just wasn’t for me.  I’m sure anyone reading this who’s ever attended an arts college can at least somewhat identify with my sentiments.  But my main beef was that the people there, at least where I went, behaved as if they knew everything.  The students, the instructors, the administration – everyone.

So many people fail to recognize that art and design is a never-ending learning process.  There are no solutions that work 100% of the time and sometimes the best way to approach a problem is the last way you’d ever be taught in a classroom.  In fact, the belief that you always know the best solution to a problem as soon as you’re confronted with one can often vastly limit your creative scope.  It’s crucial to keep this in mind and it astonished me that things could be looked at in such a black-and-white, absolute fashion.

These were the thoughts and fears that raced through my mind as I climbed those stairs to start my first day.  I was concerned that the next six weeks would be an endless labyrinth of templates, rules and revisions; that I would be a workhorse rather than a new creative force with some things to say.

It turned out that I was expected to be everything at once, which was explicitly terrifying and angered me at first.  Learning a new set of foreign, complex techniques and systems can be overwhelming, especially coming from a primarily self-taught design background.  But I did the only thing I could – I dove right in.  In doing so, I learned one of my most important lessons so far at Go Media (other than what’s new in CS5):

It’s fine to flounder, to flail.  Encouraged, even.  Struggling to right yourself and succeeding out of your own accord is worth so much more than immediate heaps of praise and reinforcement.  I say this not because I don’t value the latter, but because the former has ultimately provided me with the momentum and intrinsic motivation that we as designers and, more importantly, as people need in order to keep things exciting and challenging.

And I’m still flailing.  With all the knowledge I’ve gained and progress I’ve made in the brief period of time I’ve enjoyed here, I know I’m just barely skimming the surface of the seas of knowledge that represent the dual worlds of design and business.  But I am learning to take comfort and refuge in those vast, uncertain places.  That hunger to create through learning and experience as well as accumulated knowledge is something I see everywhere at Go Media, albeit in a much more refined and developed state.  It’s a feeling that pervades this place and through creative organizations across the world, and the best ones never lose sight of it.

About the Author, Maxwell Stern

I like design, guitars and burritos. I just sold out and got a Twitter. Follow me if you enjoy design, guitars and/or burritos.
Discover More by Maxwell Stern


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • bimon

    I agree that design and art are constantly evolving processes. It is certainly better to make an attempt and fail, while learning, than to stick with familiar and comfortable solutions and grow stagnant.

    How does one apply become an intern at Go Media?

  • Simon H.

    Neat insight sir! So, let's sum up: you do design, own a tellie and don't like hipster design: well, why didn't we meet earlier?

  • TripleDogDare

    Nice post!
    I'm an intern at an ad agency this summer too, and I agree very much that school is not always where it's at. Nothing beats working on real projects and experiencing the business first hand. Schools just can't keep up with what's going on out there. Good luck with your internship and career. I hope you'll post more about your experiences.

    Check out the blog that our little intern group is writing at


  • Go Media

    We do not regularly have interns here at Go Media. 1 or 2 a summer at most, if that. Contact us next spring to see if we'll be looking for a summer intern.

  • Don

    Thank you for this honest insight. I especially like the mention of how you're “still flailing”–it's actually encouraging to hear. I recently got accepted to an art college, but wasn't able to attend because of finances. I was pretty distraught over it, but am now trying to do freelance work. In my search for new techniques to teach myself I stumbled upon this website and I'm glad I did! I look forward to reading more updates, and taking in everyone's artistic advice. Thanks, and Good luck!

  • Beltran

    What does Fox News have to do with your work?
    You see, your comment is so out of place, that makes me happy to see that the envy and hate, of people like you, is making Fox News bigger, and bigger.
    I'll read your next column if you explain to me: “What does Fox News have to do with your work”.

  • Ellen Offner

    Hi, Max,
    This is a super, honest, and direct blog, and I love your graphic designs! Your experience at Go Media sounds terrific.
    Ellen O

  • Max

    not sure dude! i do love those telecasters though. and i just picked up one of these:

    though it's an epiphone and not a gibson, it still sounds amazing.

  • Photoshop Clipping Path

    This is a super,A brilliant and resourcefully post

  • Simon H.


  • Desi baba

    Thank for sharing this usefull article,im humbly thank you

  • AaronDaMaster

    uhh… defensive much? Fox news scares the bejeezus out of me also, what with telling Palin they are now her “portal” to bash other news programs. Fox is only becoming “bigger” because they are becoming louder, not bigger in an informative way. I'll answer your question with a question. Does it matter if it has anything to do with his work? Last time I checked Opinions are still legal..

  • AaronDaMaster

    Good post, I like that you overdressed for the interview, seems about right haha. I really do find that my favorite art teachers are the ones that I trade new material with, rather than have them pretend to know/see everything already. That's the beauty of art, everyone is showing their answer, but what was the question?

  • harly00

    Great post man,you have done a great job in the guys really rock.

  • bimon

    Cool. Thanks for the info.

  • AaronDaMaster

    PS. Fox news is a terrorist command center

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  • nanomatik

    What does Fox News have to do with your work?
    You see, your comment
    is so out of place, that makes me happy to see that the envy and hate,
    of people like you, is making Fox News bigger, and bigger.
    I’ll read your next column if you explain to me: “What does Fox News have to do with your work