“We’re building it ourselves”: meet Doteveryone’s interns
Doteveryone’s most public voices tend to involve slightly intimidating women on slightly intimidating stages. But big talks and beautiful projects are only possible with a team of smart, cool, hardworking people behind the scenes — and we’ve just added three more faces to ours.
I sat down with Sam, James, and Josh to talk about the first month of their internship: what’s been good, what’s been hard, and what they’re hoping for over the coming weeks. Here’s what they had to say.
How’s Doteveryone been so far?
James: I don’t get bored, because we’re doing loads of different stuff. All the other internships I’ve done it’s been like, move this around a page and colour grade this. The bottom end of the design that’s being done by some other guy at the top.
Sam: It’s been really good. Because it’s all been about things I’m interested in. It’s about things I want to know more about and learn more about, and I feel like doing it well is also a contribution to the kind of work that matters to me. If it was something else, I think it’d feel like a chore.
How is day 30 different than day 1?
Josh: I think most significantly for me has been my working proficiency with James. Because day one it was like, how am I going to work with you?
James: Yeah, that’s true.
Josh: And now it’s like, okay, I know he can — he’s the talking person. So when doing the interviews, he’s taking the lead, whereas I’m the detail oriented one on the other side.
James: Which I lack, as well. So that works really well, I think!
Josh: Yeah. So particularly for this reputation portability stuff we’ve been doing over the past few days, we’ve really taken the strengths of each other and worked based on that. Whereas the first thing we did for Citizens Advice, I felt like that was a little harder in terms of cooperating.
James: Yeah, yeah. I felt like that was a teething stage for sure. Because we were both like — what’s going on? What are we supposed to be doing? But I think that actually helped us learn as well what we like doing. But it is true: I’ll get something out and then Josh will be like, “That’s a bit wrong, that’s a bit wrong, that’s a bit wrong…”
Josh: You make me sound so judgmental!
James: Well, no! I need that! You know, cause I’m not super good at the detail. I have to be in a very specific mood to be good at the detail. But Josh is always good at the detail. So that works for me.
Sam: I think for me the difference, like, more personally…is that at the start I’d be asked to do something and it’d be about how to do it and get it done well. But now looking at the task…now when I’m asked to do something, I’ve got a better appreciation of the work in the broader sense. I’m starting to appreciate where it sits, what it’s for. I’m starting to get an appreciation that this small task doesn’t seem like it’s just for giving to Catherine because she asked for it. It’s sitting in some bigger thing. I think I work better because of that.
James: Yeah, knowing that makes it so much more motivating to do the work, for sure. Because, like, now I can see that it’s another piece of the puzzle they need to help answer the question or change people’s minds or build a case for it to be legit.
Josh: I think I’ve really got a sense we’re contributing to something much bigger. In particular, when we went to Manchester and Irit just threw us into the deep end. Talking to people, I really felt like we were part of the team, and we were contributing to the whole project. Rather than just, say, doing menial labour tasks.
What do you want to do more of over the next couple of months?
Sam: One thing I’ve really liked so far is that we start with a concern, really, a “what if” concern. I’ve liked that the work’s been stuff where the first stage isn’t “Now let’s see what all the theorists or academics are writing about this”, because there really isn’t anything. We have to go out and make the first stuff. I’m not saying we invented, say, “Maybe pricing algorithms are discriminatory”, but there isn’t a lot of work to go off of. We’re building it ourselves. I really like the newness of it.
Abbey: That’s a thing I think we’re working hard to be good at, and consistent at. Figuring out first, is there something going on there? And then, is it the right project for us? So figuring out where we can be useful is a big thing for us. So it’s nice to hear it’s not just an idea living in our heads — that it’s really happening.
What’s hard? What do you need help with?
James: I think I’ve got better now about being able to juggle a few things. Not that I have anywhere as many things as, say, Cassie has to work on. But I’ve pretty much been working in a linear process for the past three years at least, working on one project at a time. And that’s not how it goes here. It can get a bit mind-boggling sometimes, because there’s a lot of stuff going on. Just learning how to file things, which I’m doing.
And then using GSuite has been a learning curve, but now has made me way better at organisation. With my social life as well! Because I have, like, a journal, and it’s analog, and I love it, but now it’s a journal. And my Google calendar is my diary. Which I should’ve probably done a long time ago!
Sam: When I was studying, there really wasn’t a point during the day where work’s done, where studying stops. I don’t mean study 12 hours a day, but there’s no block of the day where the studying happens.
James: I so get down with that.
Sam: I’ve been told, oh no, you’re supposed to stop! And work during certain hours.
James: I’ve found that too. My dad warned me about that — when you get a job, you go home and you don’t have to think about it at all! You think of an idea for something and you’re like, yeah, I can do it tomorrow. It’s relaxing compared to being a student.
Sam: Honestly, I do stuff at home because I’m used to that. I like that I can say, “Oh, I can do that later,” so I don’t have to pause on something before it’s done or try to get it done quickly. I kind of like being able to plan to do work beyond the chunk which is officially the work day.
Abbey: I think it’s also, we just want to be really careful with you as people. To make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of. It’s really important to make sure you’re as happy and healthy as possible. And so if that means you want to do stuff at night that’s totally up to you, but we would never expect it and we’d never penalise you for not doing it.
James: And you’re going to be working your best if you’re happy.
James: Which I’m all for. I usually have an hour lunch. I’m so much more productive when I come back, and I’ll stay a little later. There’s that thing of interns just saying they need to go all day all night to prove themselves.
Abbey: Exactly. And you don’t have to. And — do you know how many people applied for these internships? Has anyone told you?
Sam: I feel like the other day I overheard how many applied for mine. I also feel like I misheard, because it seemed like a lot.
Josh: How many?
Sam: I don’t want to say! Abbey should say, she knows. I don’t want to say in case it turns out I’m wrong.
Abbey: It was more than 100, for both of them. Not 100 total, but between 100 and 150 for each.
Sam: I think that seems like quite a lot. And then out of those people, it was decided…I was the one who might help the most. Or like, be valuable.
Josh: But at the same time, I feel like that number’s not surprising to me. Because before coming here, I applied for many, many jobs.
James: Show her the evidence. Show her the evidence.
Abbey: Do you have a list?
Josh: This is my job hunting list since January this year.
Abbey: Oh my God.
Josh: So ranging from internships to full time roles, the total is 91 applications with 18–19 — interviews. And this is my second internship as of yet. So actually 110–150 isn’t surprising.
Abbey: Also, you’re more organised than I’ve ever been for a single moment in my life.
James: Also, he’s a really good designer as well!
Josh: I try.
Abbey: The reason I bring it up is because, like, we want you to do your best, and to be part of the team, and to feel like you’ve accomplished things. But you don’t have to prove yourself, because you already did. Is the way I think about it. And I think that’s the way everyone else thinks about it, too.
We’ll be featuring more from our interns in the coming weeks. Let us know if there’s anything you want us to ask them, and take a look at their bios below.
James Barclay is a multidisciplinary designer and musician born and bred in Bristol. He recently graduated with a First Class Honours in Design from Goldsmiths, spending his third year project designing systems that use music to positively effect mental health stigma. He loves facilitating situations where users become designers, formulating collaborative outcomes that address problems from the bottom up.
Josh Kwan is a graphic and interaction designer from Hong Kong, and a graduate of MA Interaction Design Communication from LCC. He’s looking to make meaningful and useful things whilst trying to stay alive in London.
Sam Stuart is studying for an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy at the LSE. His research approach is interdisciplinary, and areas of interest include digital ethics and society; tech policy; political philosophy; applied moral philosophy; philosophy of mind and cognitive science. He grew up by the river Medway and lives by the river Thames.