Meet Audrey Elkus, she's got an eye for design. A sophomore MAS major at Wellesley, Audrey spent the summer pursuing her interests at TAIT Design Co., a small, award-winning product design company in Michigan. We’ve had the chance to talk to Audrey about her experiences as an intern at TAIT and ask her what advice she can give to other students interested in pursuing a similar path. Read the conversation we had with her below! What made you interested in doing an internship in design?
I've actually been interested in design for as long as I can remember. I attended a prep school in Michigan that has an art focus, and I think my love for design stemmed from there. Also, my parents love art so we've always had books about it and whenever we travel, we visit art museums.
What are some interesting projects you worked on?
My summer internship was mostly to help create the packaging for a modular mobile called Precision Mobile. There's a lot of information about it up on the website (taitdesignco.com), but it's a brass and stainless steel sculpture that moves about gently once it's hung from a ceiling. I also helped with planning long-term business strategies, was the point of contact for a few wholesale accounts, and wrote instructions for assembling the mobile. I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and a laser cutter, which was very cool. I also named the style of the mobile 'Arrowhead' and got to be the model for the website photos and video advertisement, which was hilarious and fun.
How would you describe TAIT's mission?
TAIT's mission is to create work that is beautiful, simple, and clever. Everything is manufactured in the US, and everything is a functional work of art.
What was your day to day at work and also after work during the internship?
My day-to-day was always different, but it included anything from working on Illustrator designs to helping prototype different packaging structures to sticking velcro dots on yoyo packaging. I really got the chance to see and help with most of the aspects of production, from product creation to online accounting software. A startup is a great place to work because you get the chance to see all the different jobs that make up a business. This one especially was just the founder (Matt Tait) and myself most of the time, and he was great about answering all my questions and teaching me how to do most everything.
How would you describe your style in art and fashion?
Polished comfort, bright colors, anything that makes me smile. I also have a soft spot for companies like Ace & Jig who sell handwoven items, and I love clothing that's especially soft.
What is your favorite item of clothing and makeup?
I rarely wear makeup, but my favorite item of clothing is a pair of black cashmere leggings, which are the softest pants on Earth!!
If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
I'd love to have tea with Ray Eames, I find her incredibly inspiring.
What are the important takeaways you learned from the internship experience?
You won't get anything if you don't ask for it! I was nervous in the beginning to speak up about different things I wanted to learn about, but when I asked, Matt was more than happy to show me. I don't think I would've seen any of the business parts of TAIT if I hadn't made it clear that I was curious about more than just design.
How did you land the internship?
Honestly I saw TAIT online, and thought the products were beautiful. I didn't have a contact or anything, I just filled out their general contact form. I had a phone interview, and when I was home during Wintersession, an in-person interview. Both were fairly casual, it was really about seeing if I would be a good fit and discussing what my possible roles could be.
What advice would you give to other students interested in the design industry?
Send cold emails!! The worst that can happen is that no one replies. Also, bigger companies (i.e. https://www.dezeenjobs.com) have entire websites just for design jobs. Sometimes there aren't any postings for internships, but it doesn't mean you can't email them anyways. There wasn’t anything on the TAIT website whatsoever to suggest that they needed an intern, but when I showed interest in them, they showed interest in me.
How did your major apply to your internship?
I'm a MAS major and an Econ minor, and this mostly applied because it proved that I was interested in both art and technology. Really you can swing your major to be related to any internship you're looking for, I don't think they would've said no to me if I happened to be a Political Science major who happened to love art. It’s all about showing that you’re excited about what the company is doing.
Interviewed by Yu Rong Lim