Student Placements and Remote Working at KD

Every year we offer a range of internship opportunities for students looking to broaden their experience and secure industry placements. These internships can span across any department and can last anytime between three months up to a year. 

Along with the rest of the world, the past year and a half has been a different experience for KD and our interns as we introduced company-wide homeworking for the first time. Join us as we talk to our current student interns, Zahrah Thomas and Olly Cross about their experiences of working remotely with KD.  

Olly Cross

Olly is a design engineering student going into his fourth year at Imperial College London and has been working in the engineering department at KD since April 2021.  

Zahrah Thomas

Zahrah is currently a third-year university student studying design for industry at Northumbria University. Zahrah started her internship at KD in May 2021 and has been with the design team for the past four months.

What have you enjoyed most about your placement at KD?  

Olly: My favourite part of working at KD has been working at the early stages of product development and concept generation. Even as an intern I have found my ideas have been valued and I have felt my input has had an influence on the direction of projects. I have also enjoyed working in the KD office, it’s a great open space to work, with plants on almost every surface you look. I have had fun working with the team face-to-face and having people to bounce ideas off. 

Zahrah: I have really enjoyed being on a range of different projects from medical to women-centred and even patent searching. It is a chance to see the range of things KD do, and I specifically like being able to switch from one design discipline to another and not get stuck in an endless project that becomes so familiar that it doesn’t challenge you.   

 

What have been the biggest challenges? 

Olly: The biggest challenge has been the steep learning curve when getting started on a new project. Often each new project requires getting familiar with a new piece of software or developing a new skill. This learning process must happen in parallel with delivering work, which can become challenging. I found that reaching out to other people in my team when I am stuck is the most helpful way of overcoming these challenges. Also, I found that working out what you don’t need to know about a project is equally as important as figuring out what you do need to know. Sometimes it’s unrealistic to expect to understand everything about a project in a short space of time, so finding the right information you need to solve a problem is an important skill.   

Zahrah:  The biggest challenges have been adjusting to new briefs. As I am sure is the same with the rest of the team, jumping on a new brief especially with little detail can be a bit to get your head around, but I do like the challenge, and it always works out in the end.  

How have you found working from home and working remotely with the team?  

Olly: Despite starting online, I have been made to feel very welcome at KD. I got to know the company through inductions to all the different departments as well as one-to-one chats. A lot of the work is collaborative, so I have regular calls with my team to work through problems. We also have regular check-ins with the team, so I found myself always busy with a project. Even though working online has been enjoyable, I’ve found working in person to be much more enjoyable. There is a definite buzz about the office which makes it a great environment to work. 

Zahrah: It has been a bit disheartening not getting the chance to see everyone and have that ‘in office’ experience where you can just bump into people and get chatting. But I will say that the team have been great at keeping everyone involved and connected by having daily meetings and random drop-ins.  

 

How has it opened your eyes up to future working and industry? 

Olly: During my time so far at KD I have enjoyed working on a range of projects which each present their own challenges and opportunities for learning. It’s also been great to have a creative input on projects. In the future, I’ll look for an environment where I can be involved in the early stages of concept development and ideation.  

Zahrah: I now realise that unlike university and the projects I do, that working in industry is very collaborative and less pressure filled. When it comes to the design work itself, I’ve learnt that it’s not always about creating a new solution but finding the existing problem and this has changed the way I approach things now.  

What are the top three things will you take away with you and apply to future working environments and life?  

Olly:  

  • I’ve found it’s important to be proactive in finding the space in a company where you enjoy work the most. This will not only be more enjoyable for you, but it’s also in the best interest of the company. It’s likely that you will be doing your best work if it’s something you find it fun and rewarding.  
  • I’ve also learned the importance of a healthy work life balance. The team works hard butalso likes to have fun afterwards. There are regular social events and activities to get involved in. It’s a great chance to unwind and get to know your team better.  
  • Even in the world of work, I am still a student. I feel that I have learned more over thelast 3 months than a whole year at university. I have found that there is such a broad range of talent at KD and there is always an opportunity to learn from the expertise of others and broaden your own skillset. 

Zahrah:  

  • To not be afraid to ask questions even if they sound silly because everyone is willing to help, and it’ll make my life a lot easier than trying to complete a task not really knowing what I’m doing.  
  • Ask for feedback regularly. When I do projects normally, I usually get my head down and work away, but it’s important to ask for feedback or at least show someone your work. 
  • Always link the work back to the consumer or client as you can sometimes get away from what the task is and what’s important.  

 

Would you recommend an industry placement to other students? If so, why? 

Olly: An industrial placement offers a great opportunity to figure out what you like and what you don’t before committing to a career. It’s like a trial run where you get to test out lots of different things. An industrial placement is also great for your CV and helps you to stand out from the competition when applying for graduate Jobs. I have found that placement is also a great opportunity to explore a new city and to make a bit of money if you want to go travelling after uni.

Zahrah: I would recommend an industry placement because it cannot do any wrong. You get experience in the field, knowledge about topics you are interested in and connections that could help in the future.  Even if the placement wasn’t for you at least you have the idea if what you do and do not like when it comes to career options.  

Internships are an excellent steppingstone into your career and a few of our current employees at KD even found us through their placements too! Meet Charlotte, Joe, Josh, Max, and Sophie.  

  • Charlotte joined KD as a Design Intern and is now one of our Junior Design Consultants.
  • Joe also initially arrived at KD as a Design Intern and now works as an Industrial Designer.
  • Josh joined us as a Design Intern and is now one of our Senior Design Engineers.
  • Max started off an Engineering Intern and is now one of our Junior Engineers.
  • Sophie originally came to KD as an Insight & Innovation Intern and is now one of our Insight and Innovation Consultants.  

If you’d like to join our team of brilliant interns and know more about our placement opportunities, get in touch with our Office Manager, Mary McNulty and find out if KD is the right fit for you 

Find out more?

Get in touch with our Office Manager, Mary McNulty.