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01869 338890

Gap year internship in South Africa = full time job

GRAPHIC DESIGN, ADVERTISING, PUBLISHING & WEB DEVELOPMENT WITH 2HEADS, KNYSNA 2010

Where to start? Let me see...

Andrew Coupe-Harris at work on his design, advertising & publishing internship in South Africa arranged with TravellersI had been working full time as a Digital Designer for about 3 years when I decided a change was needed. I always wanted to work overseas so casually I started looking at volunteering as an alternative - since Travellers are one of the few companies that offered a placement which matched my skills I quickly found myself on their website, before long I made further enquiries and then within a month made plans to spend 8 weeks there.

Usually people take about 6 months to plan an experience like this because there is a good amount of preparation involved, but thanks to Liz and the other guys in the UK I managed to get everything sorted out in time. Before I knew it I was leaving the country for the first time on my own, to a country I never visited before - as you can imagine I was rather um... nervous!

To be honest I was coming out here mainly for the placement, the fact it was in South Africa was purely coincidence. But within a few weeks I quickly learned that I was in luck, the Garden Route of South Africa is a fantastic place to visit - both full of vibrant life and colours yet at the same time it has a casual, chilled out atmosphere about it. I was surprised how quickly I settled.

2Heads is the company I worked for with Dominic, Brett and Henk. These guys deserve credit because they are all wonderful people to work with - all of them made me feel very welcome and before long part of the team. They quickly shared their professional knowledge with me and they also invited me to come along to photo shoots and sign fittings to see how they work. Since the work ethic is so much more laid back here we also have a laugh in the office, enjoy drinks after hours and arrange social get-togethers.

Back in the office day to day routines or duties don't really exist in agency life so the one thing I must warn all other potential volunteers, either for this placement or another professional placement elsewhere, is that you'll need the initiative and the motivation to keep yourself busy. So in the spare time I had, was used learning the software I always wanted to use but never had the time, and improving on my own skills.

But more often than not I could sink my teeth into bigger things; the first major project I worked on was for ShowMe (http://showme.co.za/knysna/) - a directory style website which is to become the main source of everything you'd need to know about South Africa or the provinces. To begin with I was just entering information for the Knysna franchise, and then I was asked to make a few Flash animations for the banner headers and the logo.

When I discovered that ShowMe also had Facebook pages I casually mentioned (initiative!) that I worked on them before so could I try to jazz the pages up, when the client saw the mockups I produced she was blown away and told me to get it on ASAP. Not only did I do the design for the Knysna Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/ShowMe-Knysna/106816726055961?ref=ts) but the same thing for the Plett and South Africa Facebook pages too! The feedback I got once it was live was the best feedback I ever received; they showed so much genuine appreciation I was almost overwhelmed (I probably looked rather smug.)

I also worked on some Flash stuff for their own website, the bigger part of this was their showcase animation (http://www.2heads.co.za/view-brochure.html) which shows off work examples, they loved it enough to put it on the website the same day (again, smug.)

For the Ajubatas Foundation I was asked to make an animated booklet for one of their presentations (http://www.ajubatus.org/projects/cheetah-project.html - click 'page flip') to make it look more appealing. Other jobs included logo design ideas for a few eco friendly brands and more general office bits.

I came out here just for the work experience, just so I could have a pretty looking CV so companies back home would notice it. It turned out to be the best thing I've ever done, I am SO glad I took the risk because it's opened my eyes to what I can see and do with my life. It's made such an impression the 'safe career back in the UK' sounds a bit... boring, so next I'll look to doing a long-term internship someplace else instead!

This is Andrew, on location. Back to the studio.

MAY 2011

Email from Andrew....

"Short story is I've kept in touch with 2Heads and recently an opportunity has arisen for me to return to SA and work with them as a full time employee (hooray!)"

Andrew's internship in South Africa was arranged with Travellers Worldwide

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