This is it. The final bit of my internship at Switch, where I would receive the proverbial guillotine of termination and my Switch body ceases to exist, reincarnated as a masters student.
To commemorate my time on death row, I feel like reminiscing over what happened in these 3 beautiful months of working here. “What was I convicted for?”, you may ask. I’ll tell you later.
Parting the clouds of tragedy, you will find the rays of gratitude I have for the entire team. We are a team that, despite all odds, keep on pushing towards what they want to achieve, with a smile on their face. A special shout out, however, goes to Ed, our head of creative and brand.
Imagine being inducted into a company that works completely different from every other company you’ve worked with. Everything is online, heavily technology-oriented, different from the classroom. Everytime you enter a meeting, it feels like you’re sitting around a council. It was alien to me.
One day, I got a message from Lisa, “Ed has a shoot, care to join?”
I indulged myself.
It was my first true example of how the agency operates, seriousness when needed but it was fun. It was not the typical “It’s my job, ugh work” kind of feel. Ed himself used to say “Why would you sign a contract that has work in it?” His careful setup of the photoshoot, yet his willingness to try new things, even suggested by interns and his clients, is a revolutionary method of working. He explains his thought process on light and shot composition, like a professor, to someone who only had a middle school level of physics.
Yet I understood every single bit.
He applauded everyone for their contributions, always. He would remark how clients brought him food. It seemed to be a standard from what I’ve seen. He thanked Sarah for adjusting elements in the photos, the models for doing what they were told to, me for figuring out how we were going to set up the next shot. I thought they were standard issue things, mundane. Yet he was grateful as if it was the biggest favour for him.
Thomas’ style of working is different. He is more of a director, funnily enough. He orchestrates what his actors do and makes sure every actor gets his/her time in the spotlight. His ability to extract the best from people is something of myth. All whilst carrying a smile and passion into the work. A director, obviously, has his vision of what the final product is, yet he permits others to show their magic. It all unfolds into a symphony of work that, frankly, is indescribable.
It just works.
It is Thomas in his element. Again, he is grateful for every interaction, he is serious yet he jokes around.
These shoots were my favourite part, simply because they are the physical manifestation of what Switch is. Passion and gratefulness, condensed into whatever that their client needs with an expert’s touch.
Funnily enough, I’m pretty sure this came about by accident. Elise, our content manager, and Luke, our marketing manager, had mentioned that they needed someone to write blogs for Switch. “I wrote like a few blogs before, so why shouldn’t I?” I figured. So I took on the challenge and after both of them had given me the go ahead, I met the blank page and my thoughts.
I thought it would be like the assignments at university. Regurgitate the notes from class and blanket it under sources so it looks like you did “research”, maybe adding something a bit extra and in a few hours you get an A.
I could not have been more wrong.
It becomes a nuclear fusion of you and the outside world, not knowing the end result. You quench your thirst for knowledge, originality, and teaching. It’s like when you order something at a restaurant that you don’t know will soon become your favourite dish, everytime.
I barely scratched the surface of what blog writing really is. Yet it’s intoxicating. You end up in a spiral of pages and papers, trying to make sense of what’s in front of you. The job then becomes, “How do you make it entertaining and understandable by even people who aren’t even in the sector?”
The self-expression that comes from this makes me writhe with joy. Your opinion, based on facts and research (championed by Luke), can contribute to something bigger than yourself, even bigger than the company. It can move people. This expression, that goes beyond words, beyond everything you do, is something to applaud.
That’s one of the many things Elise taught me in writing and what the internal team loved my writing for. To be OK with expressing your informed opinion, cause the right people for you will listen.
A side note on Dr. Eggman
As part of my mission in the internship, I wanted to speak to EVERYONE in the agency. Hence, I started meeting other people in the agency. There was Andrea, head of design, Lisa, head of Client Services, Ernesta, Social media manager (More on the others in the next section) but I was dodging Rik, our CEO. He barely spoke in the group chat. I never saw him in my meetings. He must’ve been doing super CEO important stuff that’s so important it determines the fate of the universe.
So I swallowed my pride, and decided to book a meeting with him, among his stacked calendar, hoping his graciousness would accept my plea for interaction. It was met with acceptance, somehow.
Fast forward to the day I had the meeting. Ed, after the shoot, had invited me to a brand meeting. Accidentally, I forgot that I was supposed to meet Rik. Oh God, I was gonna get a mouthful cause I was wasting his important CEO time. Ed saw me distressed and simply replied “Just tell him you’ll be late, he’ll understand.” It was the stuff of treason back where I used to work. Anyways, I leaped into the abyss, to be met with a “No worries, lemme know when you’re done”. Bottom of the barrel, telling the top dog to wait. Blasphemous.
I realised then that the company revolves around the people. Structures and hierarchies exist, that much is obvious. However, it’s democratic. It’s not a case of “I’m CEO, I am the master of your fate”. Titles here are simply a formality here, to put on your CV and to show what you’re good at.
After scrambling to get home, I hopped on the call with Rik. Normal introductions aside, the first question from him was “What do you find that is ****** annoying about the company?” Absolute dedication and the guy wants to take all the blows needed to get this company to where he wants it. My type of guy.
So we got to it, the proverbial back and forth of amendments to company structure, which later went on to discussions on his role, hobbies, to music tastes, to then the penultimate reason why I joined Switch.
To try and find a purpose for this 21 year old kid.
Life is really, REALLY what you want it to be. There is so much to do, so many things to be, where even to begin? I just want to land somewhere where I can say I am ok. The confines and security of school are eroding, then you’re exposed to the harsh winds of life and as Ed once said in a brand meeting “the slightest change in behaviour done now can completely change your life in 5 years”. The worst part is, you don’t know how you will end up.
And what did Rik say to all this mental catastrophe? “Just do something, it’ll come to you.” It’s that simple. Just that. In doing, you find purpose.
Thank you Rik.
After being with people for 21 years, you start to pick up things. Things like, physical cues, habits, behaviour, frame of thinking etc. These elements, given my current conundrum of life’s purpose, will somehow automatically translate into lessons and philosophies in life.
In addition to the essay above, I have learnt the following things:
Andrea – First of all, thanks for the help with the Warhammer and personal design things, you were absolutely amazing to talk to. Mainly, I learnt that it is important to stay young and creative. It keeps you fresh and interesting.
Camille – Aw Bruce. We had a lot of fun on those multiple projects. To me, you are the personification of persistence for what you love. When you wanted something done, you even worked around the clock. From boxes and bottles to even working when you’re abroad.
Ernesta – That hour call was eye-opening. It was mainly that even through misfortune and problems that destroy plans, something can be made of it. Call it resilience to the world. Your life is something from a novel.
Fabian – I also learnt something from you. The importance of having fun and connecting with new people in new countries. To explore new lands and especially, eat. A lot.
Kathleen and Melissa – Two of the moms of Switch. You both taught me kind of the same thing. To be versatile and work towards solutions for everything. Having children and managing a personal life must be ridiculously hard. Yet it fuels your work and your ever changing list of jobs.
Lisa – Funnily enough, my neighbour. Constantly working towards organising and improving processes. Reports, spreadsheets and more reports. Not only is it just a lesson to embody self improvement but also that you don’t just recruit a great group of people, you create a great group of people.
Luca – The runner. Your work has spades of knowledge to learn from. I really found your coaching career more interesting though. Someone who not only does it but teaches as well. The importance of inspiring others and fuelling the next generation, especially at such a young age. Inspiring haha.
Luke – I wish I had met you before in my life. Well, you have taught me everything, inducted me into Switch. The importance of staying curious and constantly learning, through reading, watching and listening to everything in life. That everything is a teacher and life is to be discovered, one bit at a time. Also, Lords of the Rings is peak fiction.
Maria – I wish I could have talked to you more. Even after natural disasters, you somehow stay with a smile on your face and make everyone laugh. It is a secret to behold.
Fanny, Kim, Laura (And Luke, and Ernesta again) – All of you showed me that just because you are born somewhere, doesn’t mean you are confined to living there forever. There is a whole world to explore, with heaps of exciting projects, cultures and people to work with.
Whilst I tried getting lessons from everyone and listening to their songs of life, it is there where I committed my crime. I did not listen to everyone’s story. Their approaches, their struggles, their joys. Simply because I did not have the time or luck to meet them for that long. There are only fragments of it, like an ice cube from the entire iceberg.
The essence of Switch
That is the essence of Switch. Not just that it’s a world class agency filled with talented people but it IS the culmination of these peoples stories that make it somewhat possible to communicate the company’s story. That’s what makes it world class, the harmonious energy, the positive can do attitude, and the fun of it.
What and who I didn’t mention, like helping with leads, helping PM and marketing organise their structures and reports, the bits of design, Pjazza Kinnie and helping round on menial tasks wasn’t boring. However, fitting everything together is like the proverbial equivalent of condensing a supernova into the palm of your hand.
It is something that will not be able to fit in one blog, nor two, but will echo throughout the strings that my future work will play for the rest of my life.
I never intended this to be a blog post like my other ones. Whether it ranks number #1 on google or if it’s so good that it goes viral means nothing to me. It’s whether I get to the person reading that is my sole intention, through emotion or through logic.
If all of this has not convinced you to join Switch, I don’t know what will. It will challenge your perspective on everything and make you question even the fundamentals of your own existence. However, whatever the experience will strip you of, it will adorn you with garments of the finest quality.