In our “day of the life” series, we’ll be interviewing each of Simpatico’s team members to find out what it’s like working in our small design studio. Our first interviewee, Corey Donenfeld, is returning for his second summer as Studio Simpatico’s star web design and development intern. Corey talks about getting started in web design and development, and what it’s like being both a student and a professional at the same time.
I like making sites responsive at 3am so the next morning I wake up and think, “Why did I do that? … Actually, thank God I did that.”
What do you do when you’re not at Simpatico?
When I’m not at Simpatico, I’m playing street hockey, playing Golf, playing ping-pong, building Legos, watching Netflix, redesigning Netflix, cooking, eating, and most importantly sleeping.
When did you start working on the web and how did you learn?
Around five years ago, I made my first terrible site for a technology class. After seeing how bad it looked, I quickly assumed web development was not for me, thinking I would never touch HTML/CSS again. Fast forward to two years after, I found myself in need of a site and attempting development once more. This time it stuck. Soon, I found myself learning new things I previously thought to be impossible. I learned from a mix of looking at W3Schools and MDN docs, experimenting with writing random code, but also through looking at code from other sites and seeing how it worked. My philosophy to approaching new things will always remain consistent: discover, research, think, learn, do.
How did you become Simpatico’s intern?
My dad knows Tamara and asked me if I would be interested in him reaching out to Tamara to see if there were any opportunities at Simpatico for an intern. He sent my portfolio along and luckily everything kind of just clicked. Suddenly I was an intern at a really awesome design studio!
What’s a typical day at Simpatico like? What are some of your duties?
A typical day look like… well, I’d say every day is reasonably different and there is no such thing as a typical day at Simpatico. There are constants to the days—computers, (usually) internet, people, food, coffee—but each day has a fun, intriguing challenge. Some days I put on my headphones, sip my coffee, put my head down, and fully immerse myself into one project for the whole day. Other days, I’m thinking through a design, implementing new features, or going crazy over some development task that just doesn’t seem to want to work.
I try to dip my toes in the water with everything we work on, from design to development. Usually, I end up with more than just my toes in the water, where simple bug-fixes evolves to developing full sites.
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
Generally, projects, where we have a lot of creative freedom met with reasonable limitations, are always great.
As of recent, my favorite type of project to work on is anything involving animations—timing, interaction, loading effects, iterative thinking, and exploration. It is probably the most captivating type of project to work on. It takes my full attention, requiring constant revisions and working to make something that immerses the final user into the site experience. It takes so much time and attention to detail from the creation POV, but when done correctly, users should not be thinking about the animations and just have a seamless experience.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned working with clients?
Listening to the client and understanding their wants/needs is crucial (but also remembering that its a partnership, not just a one-way road). This isn’t necessarily new to me but seeing how the rest of team Simpatico carefully listened and put time into understanding the client definitely reinforced it. It’s important to put yourself into not only your clients’ shoes but the end-user as well. After all, everything we work on impacts those two groups of people, and it’s crucial to make everything (as close to) perfect as possible.
Another big one would be that sometimes what you want to work on—what would be the most fun, look the nicest—is ultimately not what you have to work on.
What’s been the hardest thing about working at Simpatico?
Like I said before, the whole thing about not always getting to work on the ideal project; but even if I’m not always working on the ideal project, everything is fun so it ends up being awesome no matter what I’m working on. The real, true hardest thing is not being full-time all the time.
What do you plan to do after you’ve graduated?
Honestly, I have no plan yet. I’m taking it day-by-day, usually putting minimal thought into the future and trying to keep myself in the present. Though, as a goal for my future, I hope to make some money, enjoy life, and learn lots of new things along the way!
What’s one thing you want to learn before leaving Simpatico?
Oh, there are so many things! From a business perspective, everything there is to know and understand about business. I want to not only learn but also understand which projects to take on and which to turn away. I want to learn more about analytics—how to effectively leverage data to support claims and qualitative research findings. I want to learn how to use Adobe After Effects, code, and design more efficiently with better organization to design files and code structure.
One of Corey’s many superpowers (and also stress relievers): Watch Corey solve a Rubik’s cube! Music by Ben Sound (bensound.com).