During my forth semester at university I had to think about where I wanted to go for internship in my next semester, which should have been a practical one. This task was not so easy for me because at this point in time I did know a lot cool products but not many design studios. The only thing that was planned from the start was to go abroad.
One of these days I stumbled across a picture of the “Vilcus plug dactyloadapter” somewhere in the internet with no description what it was or from which company. But I was kind of fascinated by this product (although it’s not my favorite activity to stick my fingers or other parts of the body into power outlets). So I started to investigate which crazy guy invented this product, (because I like crazy guys) and after a while of excessive searching I really found the website of Art. Lebedev Studio which I didn’t know before.
So I started looking through their products, and also reading some of the texts on the website, and I have to say I liked the style and the way of thinking more and more while doing this.
There is a certain amount of irony spread all over the website. It seemed that this company was taking itself not too seriously, unlike some design studios in Europe which are trying to be very serious and sophisticated and forgetting by this that it’s also a big achievement to bring just a smile to peoples faces.
All this seemed pretty refreshing to me and so the thought came to my mind why not doing an internship there. At first as a vague idea, but when I told some good friends and also one of my professors about this, they all said you are a little bit crazy but do this anyway!
So I was making a try and applied there, 50% for learning something about design and 50% for getting general experience and learning something for life. At first I wrote a mail to Timur, and after getting no answer for a while (the reason for this was, like I know now, the huge number of application they are always getting) I just sent them my portfolio. And after some time I was really accepted for internship, which I was very glad about.
I decided to stay only half of my practical semester there because I was not sure how it would be in Moscow without speaking Russian and even not being able to read the letters. And if it would have been horrible, the chance to survive three months seemed bigger to me than to survive six month. But as I now know it’s no big problem and my stay there could have been even longer.
So now it was about to organize everything. Finding an affordable apartment in Moscow is normally not so easy, as I heard, but for me it was easier then I thought. Timur was sending me two helpful links for this and I also tried a German website for finding flat mates which has a special section for Moscow. And, surprise, I got a very good and very affordable offering from there.
The date for the beginning of my internship was moved two times (but for good reasons like I know now) which almost made me loosing more than 300 Euros for buying a flight ticket too early. I have got the invitation for the Visa about one week before my internship should start, and the Visa just three or four days before my flight to Moscow should depart. It was my first longer stay in a foreign country so it was a good practice in organizing things and in not loosing your nerves so easily because everything was all a little bit short timed. But finally I did it and arrived at Sheremetyevo airport where Timur picked me up, what was very nice, and drove with me to the apartment where I should live, what most likely saved my live, because the woman with which I was living there, spoke absolutely nothing else than Russian. But this I didn’t know before!
The team in which I was working here is consisting of two designers and a very specialized and very good “3D department” containing two modelers and one “renderman”. The product managers are just some doors away. And they also have their own engineers sitting in the next room, so you have very short ways for solving problems.
I think the conditions for doing an internship here are very ideal. You are not so much seen as an intern who is just getting helper jobs or even has to cook coffee for the employees (or bring them vodka) like I think it is in some companies. Here you can experience, under pretty “real” conditions how the job as designer will be. You are supposed to work on the projects on your own like the Designers and you are even getting your own projects. So doing an internship here can not only be recommended for students which are still in university but also especially for designers who perhaps finished their studies just short time ago and therefore have already done some internships and could gain some experience before. For me it was my first internship and so it was a big difference to the work in university and I don’t know if I was a very big help for the people here. But therefore it was a big new and helpful experience and I could learn much. For example to be not satisfied to early with your design and to make more variants and to work more carefully on details. And I could also see how important it is also to think about technical details even in a very early stage of design process.
I have got my own working desk with a workstation and a big Wacom which I also tried to use in the end. And an advice for future interns: Fight for a working place in the “Designers room” its more funny there. But I don’t want to say with this that the people in the other room are less funny or not nice. And what I can say in general about the people here is that they are all really very friendly and are trying to help you when you have problems.
I also liked the working times here very much, starting at twelve o’clock and going until nine or ten o’clock. Because it’s very hard for me to get out of bed early, and I’m used to working in the evening or in the night.
Communication was also no bigger problem, especially Timur’s English is very good and it was also possible to communicate with the others in a way. Presentations were normally held in Russian but the important things where translated for the English speaking people.
And a very good thing is the English lessons that people here are now getting. English is getting more and more important. Keep it up guys!
Although I know that it is normal that Russian is spoken in a Russian company, I found it really nice that they also started to speak a little bit in English to each other in the end, especially Timur.
Within the time I have been here I was learning more and more about this company, and it was pretty impressive to see in how much fields they are working and how widespread the Studio’s activities are. Nevertheless they are not very well known in Europe until now. I think the only reason for this is that this Studio started and got big with interface, web and graphic design. And because of the other language and letters this is not noticed in Europe or found on Google. So I think product design is a big change to get more well known in Europe because it’s a universal language. And a chance to kick some of the old Design Studios there, which are only trusting on their names, in their asses with fresh ideas. As you can see on the example of Optimus.
Finally said I can only recommend everyone to think about doing an internship here. You can have much fun with the people in the Studio and also learn a lot. And if you speak Russian in addition don’t hesitate and apply here! And also to see Moscow which is a very impressive (but also very expensive) city.
In the end I just want to say thank you to everyone for the time I had here and I hope you also had a nice time with me. And I think I have to come back to Russia on day (perhaps even in a Lada Niva?) especially to see also something of its landscape and the rural live which I couldn’t do while my stay here. And than I will also visit you, so be prepared!