“What do you mean I can do whatever I want?” was what I first thought when I learned that I was in charge of a client project. Having never done real work for real clients in the real world, it’s safe to say that I was pretty scared. But even though this was MY project to complete, it wasn’t like I was completely alone. I had the amazing Oxide design team there to help me out whenever I was unsure of what I was doing. Once I got over my initial “wow I have a lot of responsibility for an intern” jitters I learned what I feels like to be an actual, believe-it-or-not, real life designer. And it feels GOOD.

Ryan Aquilino Self Portrait

Despite how scared I was at first of all that responsibility, that responsibility is what makes an internship at Oxide so amazing. For those of you who have read the “What I Learned” posts from previous Oxide interns the one thing that surely stands out is that even though we’re just lowly interns we’re treated as equals. Instead of just working on imaginary projects or doing all of the grunt work, we’re given total creative power over actual client projects. And even though I’m nowhere near as experienced or accomplished as the designers at Oxide, I was given an enormous amount of creative influence and respect. Everyone paid attention to the suggestions that I had, and I wasn’t babied when they knew my designs could be better.

Being treated like I was a part of this amazing team of designers felt great. The corporate climate at Oxide is probably the furthest thing possible from a “corporation.” When I was at Oxide it felt like I was hanging out with four good friends instead of just working a nine to five. Cracking jokes, jamming to great tunes, hanging around the office dogs(!), and taking part in traditions like daily visits to Bucky’s and Taco Tuesdays was amazing. The Oxide Office Experience™ was truly incredible and has set the bar really high. While having a great time at the office was awesome, the most important thing I learned this summer at Oxide is exactly what it means to care about good design.

I knew that I wanted to intern at Oxide after viewing the gorgeous work in their portfolio. It wasn’t until after I had worked at Oxide all summer that I knew why their work is consistently great. Every person who works there cares more about creating effective, engaging, and all around great design than anything else. They don’t do it for awards, they don’t do it for money, they do it because it’s what they love. For the people at Oxide, design is so much more than just a job. As clich© as that sounds, designers with attitudes like that have been very rare in my limited experience. I am so thankful that I was able to work with these amazing people because now I will never forget why I want to be a designer.

Note: Ryan Aquilino was an intern at Oxide during the summer of 2013.Get in touch with him.