For those who want to know what it’s like to be an intern at one of the biggest communications companies in South Africa, my fellow interns and I are here to share some insights.
There are three interns at Flow at the moment: Ben Brauer, a real down-to-earth guy who is in his third month working as a web developer; Racheal Kazembe, who is a second-year graphic design student interning for only two weeks; and myself, Sezin Kılören, who has just started my second week of a two-month internship. Then there’s our “video guy”, Caleb Philander, who was hired permanently three months ago after completing a three-month internship.
To briefly introduce myself, I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spent most of my adult life in Izmir, Turkey. I completed my BA in Porto, Portugal, and have been studying towards my master's degree in communication design in Denmark.
If you’re asking, “What the heck are you doing in South Africa now, especially in winter time when it’s summer at home?”, that’s a good question. You should know, though, that for a person from Scandinavia, Johannesburg is such a treat, even in midwinter.
It is not only the nomadic lifestyle I have embarked on over the past few years that brought me here, but also a strong desire to meet new, amazing people, learn about their culture, adapt to whatever is good for me and to live to my life’s potential. We are all interconnected creatures and have a lot to learn from each other, which is mainly why I am here at Flow, as it felt like the right address to make all this happen.
So let’s hear from my fellow interns and our colleague:
What were you doing before joining Flow?
Ben: I’ve dabbled in a lot of things. I’m a musician (piano and guitar), advanced scuba diver, photographer and programmer. I also love the English language and poetry. I started two degrees and have not finished either. I first did half a BSc degree in human physiology, genetics and psychology. Most recently I gave a Bachelor of Computer and Information Science a try, specifically in computer-game design and development. When I discovered that I couldn’t go back to the conventional pace and scope of formal studies, I closed that book a few pages in and I now work at Flow.
Caleb: I worked at an online radio station in an entry-level position. I developed my skills and worked my way up to studio manager and live audio recorder.
Racheal: I am still studying towards my BA degree in graphic design so this is my first experience working within a big company.
Sezin: I hold a BA degree, specialising in digital arts and multimedia design. Before that I worked at Hurriyet Journal, one of the foremost Turkish newspapers, for three years as a proofreader, middle-page designer and a journalist. Then I took a gap year to travel and work in a few temporary positions before starting my MA. I have visited 15 countries and would love to add many more to the list. Currently, I am a final-year student studying towards a master's degree in communication design at Design School Kolding in Denmark. I’ve been rock climbing professionally for the past two years and documenting some of my travel experiences through videos and writing.
Describe your experience at Flow so far
Ben: Really pleasant. The work will hopefully get harder and more complex. But for now, I am learning completely new concepts, which is challenging enough to keep me out of trouble and off the streets.
Caleb: It’s been absolutely phenomenal. I started off in the PR studio, which was the only position available that I’d applied for. As soon as I got here I told them what my potential skills are and what I am comfortable doing. Two weeks later I found myself testing the field. I am quite confident in my skills and I just wanted a little bit of room for myself to work and grow my skills. After two more weeks, I became “the video guy”. I guess I just needed someone to put a little bit faith in me because I didn’t come in with a lot of skills. I was not necessarily targeting video, but after the last six months of working here, I have gained so much knowledge in terms of that genre. This was only possible because Flow allows a person to do that. The company has been very flexible.
Racheal: It has been very insightful in terms of gaining knowledge in the communications field.
Sezin: It has been only a week and I just had a big, warm African welcome. There’s a world of knowledge I have gained and exchanged already, and I feel like I am going to leave Flow with some genuine experience.
What do you think about the Flow culture?
Ben: Flow has an incredible ethos and attitude. Go-getters. Movers. Shakers. Motivators. Motivated. Efficient. Timely. Founded in integrity – the culture at Flow is something I’ve never seen in another company. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
Caleb: Flow culture is incredible. There is a high level of mutual trust in all the departments and among all the employees. Everyone is so talented and intelligent, which makes you constantly want to up your game. You cannot come in here and underperform; you always want to over-perform. I am also encouraged to speak my mind. I am the youngest person at Flow and I got over the fear of making a fool of myself or saying the wrong thing very quickly because if you have an opinion on something, they want to hear it. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong, but they still want to hear that opinion, which is very cool.
Racheal: There are times we are busy with a lot of work but even during stressful times Flow people just find ways to be happy. We are quite a big family here and, most importantly, we care about each other. You can even see it in the colours around us (the walls are super colourful).
Sezin: Transparent, authentic.
In terms of the work you have done at Flow, what kind of role do you think the company is playing in changing South African society?
Ben: Flow works with some incredible NGOs. What NGOs need, more than anything, is to make sure that they are communicating effectively and efficiently, and that their brand accurately portrays what they’re about and what they wish to achieve in a way that incites people to join their cause. Flow does an incredible job on this because Flow cares a lot about “being the change” and it’s partly why I love working here.
Caleb: If you get to know South Africa or Johannesburg, you see a very large disparity in terms of culture and community. In Flow’s Johannesburg office, over 50% of employees are black. Flow has done a lot in terms of taking South Africa forward. Flow is in tune with the progression of the country and of South African society. It is not afraid to change and it adapts to changes in society.
Racheal: For me, Flow showcases the beauty of not only South African culture, but also the talents and beauty that this country has. It gives a voice to the people, which makes the country stand out as one that is united and always working together with its diverse community.
Sezin: South Africa is so beautiful and has quite an interesting historical background. There’s a lot of change happening in this country and Flow seems to be able to adapt well in order to keep up with this changing society. I feel like I am learning a lot about everyday life and culture in South Africa while working on topical projects.
As interns, each of us is fortunate to be working in an environment as diverse and challenging as that of Flow Communications. No two days are the same and there is always a new client, new project or fresh approach just around the corner, which keeps everyone on their toes.
Since Flow works in many different spheres of communications – media training, design, development, content, PR, video and social media – there is a lot for each of us to learn before we move on to try something new. Some of us (if we’re lucky) may even decide to stay!