Student Hub

Intern Files – Faizal Razak from GAJ, Dubai


5 Mar , 2019  

In an effort to lessen the divide between university experience and the work phase of life, we decided to launch a design internship series, each episode featuring one interior design student/graduate working at an established design firm within the Middle East and Africa region. The series aims to offer deeper insight via real life intern experiences, while showcasing the benefits of an internship program and its value add in a student’s career path. (In other words, highlighting all that can be accomplished, besides learning to serve coffee!)

Our debut episode of the Intern Files features Faizal Razak, an intern at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ).


 

An Interior Design Graduate from Heriot Watt University, Faizal has been with GAJ for a month and a half, and quite confident about his extensive experience within that short time. We met him at the edgy and hip Qahwet Murjan restaurant in La Mer, and this is what he told us…

We also spoke to Paula Fay Evans, Senior Associate, Interior Design at GAJ, and Faizal’s team leader, about their intern program. Here are details…

 

A brief outline of the internship program

When interns join us, we take time to sit down with them and understand their personal interests and goals, so that we can tailor make the program to suit them, while also including key components of industry practice.

Although we do not have a set duration, most interns typically join us for three months, a length of time that we recommend to be able to fully benefit from the program. Regular feedback is provided, and at the end of the internship, we conduct a review of everything that they have worked on during their time with us, and specific feedback from the team and management.

We also encourage feedback, which is important to ensure that we are offering a quality internship programme. Quite often, we are an intern’s first impression of the industry and the start of their design career, so it is vital that their first experience be a positive one. We want to provide a positive and engaging environment for the interns to develop their working skills in the hope that they leave us eager to continue their design career with confidence.

Below: Faizal Razak, Interior Design Intern, and Elaine Nettleton, Communications and Business Development Manager, GAJ, at Qahwet Murjan, Dubai

Key responsibilities for the intern

There are no set responsibilities; the main objective is development and learning on the job. They are assigned to a mentor, normally a senior designer in the area of design they are particularly interested in. The intern works closely with their mentor and assists them on all current tasks. This allows them active involvement in live projects. They learn the way projects flow and the requirements of each design stage. Interns also assist us with library management, which any intern will tell you feels like a chore and a “typical intern task”! However, they soon realise that they have been learning about the products without even realising it.

 


Quite often, we are an intern’s first impression of the industry and the start of their design career, so it is vital that their first experience be a positive one. We want to provide a positive and engaging environment for the interns to develop their working skills in the hope that they leave us eager to continue their design career with confidence.

– Paula Fay Evans, Senior Associate at GAJ


 

We believe the best learning path is to be hands on rather than simply observing others. Interns work to deadlines just as everyone else in the department, as it is important for them to understand how to plan, structure and prioritise their work to achieve submissions. This will be a critical skill for them in their design career. Learning from mistakes is a vital part of any career and we understand and nurture this with our interns.

 

The eligibility criteria for becoming an intern at GAJ

We do not have any specific eligibility criteria; we welcome anyone that has a passion for design, we don’t believe in restrictions as part of an internship is learning the ropes. We have instances wherein interns have joined us with little to no design knowledge, they have an interest in design and simply what to see if this is the right career path for them before starting university.

 

What qualifies as a successful internship?

If an intern leaves with more knowledge than when they joined; that is success. Even more fulfilling is when an interns obtain full time employment post the programme, whether at GAJ or with another company. Quite often, interns have been offered a full time role with us as Junior Designer or Design Assistant. GAJ has an emphasis on career progression – the continued development and nurturing of the team with our mentorship programme is important to us as a practice.

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