Friday, September 25, 2015

Friends of the Web

I found out about the opportunity to intern at Friends of The Web when Andy Mangold reached out to me directly. I had been recommended by a previous MICA intern, and Andy made the first contact with me. After a few emails, I visited Friends of The Web to meet the team and do an interview. During the interview, I was asked to take Andy and a few other members of the team through my portfolio, and was asked to explain both design decisions and technical solutions for interactive work. At the end of my interview, Andy expressed to me that I would be welcome to join the team, and that they would send some details to me about hours, pay, etc within a few days.

Andy is a founding member of Friends of The Web, an interactive consultancy based in Mt. Vernon. FoTW was started by Andy, Anthony Mattox (a fellow MICA alumnus), Dan Martens, and Josh Hepworth after they all graduated in 2011. Andy, Dan, and Josh grew up together in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and Anthony and Andy lived together through school at MICA. Since its inception, FoTW has grown to be about 10 employees, including two or three student interns at any given time. The company tries to split its time between consulting work for various clients and their own products. Eventually, they hope to be able to support their business with their own mobile and web products. Andy is a designer, front end developer, and, as a partner, something of a project manager. 

As an intern, I’ve been involved in a few projects. There have been two website designs for smaller, independent clients that I have been able to take a leading role in, and for one of those I was also able to do the front end development of the site. I’ve also worked on a retainer project for a client in New York who is building an iOS application. He employs several developers, but contracts Friends of The Web to do a lot of design explorations on a weekly basis.

Of the projects I’ve worked on, I am most proud of the work I’ve done on my current project, which is a website for a client in California highlighting upstanding members of the community in East Palo Alto. It’s a project I believe in, and I think that the work I’ve done so far has been interesting and pushes against current trends in web design. From this, I’ve learned how difficult it is to do interesting work in the real world. I’m glad that I am in a position where the client is willing to experiment a bit, but this is far from commonplace. This has made me think much more about what sort of environment I want to work in post-graduation; while I love working at Friends of The Web, and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much from such excellent mentors, I don’t know if I feel like the consulting world is the best fit for me in the future.

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