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229 hours – The Internship of Rhys Rigione-Pisone


Where do you see yourself in five years?
Find out what it was like for Rhys to intern with us at NZ Digital.

Rhys Rigione-Pisone

Posted 18 December 2017
by Rhys Rigione-Pisone

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is a question you get asked a lot in your last year of high school, and I had literally no answer for my teachers, but I did have dreams and ambitions. In high school I wasn’t the most academic or social (a combination of Dyslexia and Skinny Gamer Syndrome), the only reason why I graduated was that I took to art classes, painting and graphic design and passed with enough credit to make up for my other subjects like calculus and physics.

Want to avoid the real world for a few more years? Study towards your Bachelors.

Most of the people I knew were either going to a popular university to study or were lucky enough to get themselves an apprenticeship. I didn’t have the funds to waste my money on a university where I saw myself skipping classes because I was too hung-over from the night before. So I decided to study local at Eastern Institute of Technology, specifically Ideaschool.

There’s always a debate about whether you should go study towards your Bachelors or create your own image as an artist waiting for clients to come to you. The honest answer is if you haven’t put yourself out there on social media and haven’t spent late nights working on your craft, then go to college or university because in the ‘Art World’ you need to be coming out with new pieces of work every week at least.

Before starting my study I promised myself that I needed to be more social and talk to people more otherwise, I wasn’t going to get the opportunities I needed to succeed in the real world. And after three years of study it worked, I made life long friends with amazing talent and contacts that are connected to the art world and an internship!

A smooth transition into the real world.

Before I got my internship at NZ Digital, I worked really hard on an internship package (which demonstrated my abilities in Graphic Design) to send to various Design Studios in Napier and London (my hometown) but unfortunately, I didn’t hear back from any of them. That experience really put me off working for a design studio. I didn’t want to work for someone who couldn’t respond back to someone who clearly was very determined to work for them. I wasn’t asking for much, just a ‘sorry we’re not looking for an intern at the moment’. My mission from then on was to focus on my work and make a name for myself. From then on, I was going to start up my own studio to show those other studios what they miss out on….vindictive, I know 🙂

A month into the second half of the year, one of my lecturers informed one of my friends about an internship with NZ Digital. I was a little reluctant at first, as the year before I had built two websites on Adobe Muse and neither went that well which put me off websites a bit. However, after reflecting on the opportunity and the possibilities that could come, I emailed Adam Harris hoping he wasn’t going to be like the other studio’s I’d spoken to. He definitely wasn’t. The interview I had with Adam was relaxed and our conversations were very chill which put me at ease. You hear all these stories about interviews and being asked really obscure questions to somehow figure out who you are, like eg ‘If you were a dinosaur, what kind of dinosaur would you be?’ (to be honest, I love Jurassic Park so I would have aced that question by answering Velociraptor, but a smart one that would run away from Tyrannosaurus). However, Adam did ask that dreaded question….”where do you see yourself in 5 years?” This time I had a definitive answer: my plan was to finish study, graduate, work for NZ Digital then start-up my own studio.

229 Hours, it only feels like 120.

After feeling reluctant to build websites, I’ve now found I actually like it. It’s fun learning about how to make sites properly (not with Adobe Muse) and seeing the results is exciting. I’ve also been able to express myself creatively through social media posts where I have used my skills to illustrate and animate gifs for clients and our internal work.

NZ Digital also helped me get an A- on my last project for my Bachelors. My last project was a self -directed one where I created a social media campaign (The Movement) for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which I suffer from, Crohn’s Disease. With their help and direction, I was able to launch my first professional website and for a good cause. The whole NZD team came to my final exhibition, idea_ENTITY, where I presented my campaign to the public. They were very proud of me and loved that I  had created a whole brand from scratch. It’s really nice to have that support and praise from your workmates.

What have we learnt?

First: My debut blog post was that good that you’ve made it to the end. Proving to my primary school and high school English teachers that dyslexia can’t stop me from writing a blog post (even if I did rely on spellcheck and Google).

Second: If you’re passionate about something, pursue it and surround yourself with people on the same wave-length.

Third: Be social. Talking to the right people that could lead to opportunities. (Tip: you might have to talk to 20 different people before you end up talking to the right person).

Fourth: If you are handed an opportunity that wasn’t part of the ‘5-year plan’ take it because it’ll probably be a stepping stone to your future.

Finally: Never stop grinding. If it’s something you love doing, it’s not work, you’re learning. Create the life you want to live and live in it.

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