A summer internship led to the formation of a design duo.
Justin Sindelar is a second-year marketing major at San Jose State University with a passion for design, marketing and all things technology. Justin spent his summer interning for Dwolla in our Des Moines office as a designer. When he’s not in class, Sindelar works remotely from Dwolla’s San Francisco office.
He shared what he learned over the last few months, how he found Dwolla and what his future holds:
What was your path to Dwolla?
JS: I originally met our CEO Ben Milne when I was 13 years old. At the time Ben was still working for his previous company that built beautifully sounding custom speakers — and even with my 13-year-old intuition, I knew that someone who could make a speaker sound so good could probably do lots of other cool things.
My intuition proved true when Ben co-founded Dwolla in 2008 with the mission to revolutionize the online payments industry. I applied for the position in springtime this year and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of that mission.
What projects did you work on this summer?
JS: I helped grow our breadth of content marketing by designing some cool stuff. I’m a total geek when it comes to the relationship between design and marketing, and this internship was the perfect place to put my knowledge into practice.
In total, I worked on 35 projects this summer.
My very first project was to design an ACH 101 ebook that would be a helpful resource for any business looking to connect to the ACH Network and would serve as an onramp to the Dwolla platform. This project was a collaboration between myself, our copywriter and our lead designer which led to a stunning resulting book with phenomenal content.
There’s nothing quite like it on the internet and I’m excited for when that is released.
One of my favorite projects was the Dwolla Transfer Timelines graphic. At first it seems like such a simple issue: we needed to explain to our customers how long it takes for their money to move.
But Dwolla has four transfer types which can be combined depending on the customer’s funds flow.
Here’s a look at what I was given to start:
My task was to take this hasty whiteboard information and turn it into a graphic that our customers could easily understand. The result is a major improvement over the previous graphic and our customers love it!
In my last two weeks of the internship, I was asked to design rebrand concepts along with our design lead. The feeling I had when Jeremiah and I solidified our rebrand concepts is pretty memorable. It took two weeks of tedious work and a notebook worth of sketches, but it was totally worth it.
Evolving a brand for a B2B SaaS company was an incredible opportunity.
How did you find your path into design?
JS: My passion for design actually stemmed from a passion for marketing. My dad and I would build computers together when I was young and I was particularly moved by the lure of Apple computers.
Apple has an incredible marketing breadth, not because it spends a billion dollars on advertising to cover every billboard and TV screen, but because it cares about design. Apple considers the needs of its customers and addresses them by designing good products. It sounds simple, but a lot of companies do it wrong.
My mission is to make the world a little bit better through design.
What’s your favorite part about working for Dwolla?
JS: I’ve always tried to surround myself with good people – and that’s pretty easy to do at Dwolla. Our marketing team is on point. Our product team is constantly building new features. Our customer success team is working to integrate our customers at lightspeed. It’s incredible to see a day in the Dwolla office unfold with so many passionate people working here.
Above all else, my favorite part about working for Dwolla is my incredible manager and our design lead, Jeremiah.
This guy is seriously talented and frankly I don’t know how he’s been handling the design workload of this company all on his own. By the end of the summer, we had formed a wholesome friendship and a seriously good working dynamic.
We’re a design duo of sorts.
Is there anything specific you learned while working at Dwolla?
JS: Dwolla is a “disruptive” company, meaning that we’re always fighting an uphill battle against the status quo. Marketing a disruptive company is super difficult, but I read a few awesome books this summer that helped me understand our marketing chasm.
I believe that in order for a design to truly be effective, it needs to be paired with lots of research, analytics, thought and strategy. What I learned from these books and from our marketing team made me think even deeper about how my designs affect our end users.
Giving back to the community is part of Dwolla’s core beliefs, did you ever take part in any Dwolla volunteer opportunities?
JS: I had the chance to take action on something I care deeply about, which is creating safe and supportive school environments for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or are questioning their identity (LGBTQ). Dwolla teamed up with Iowa Safe Schools, which was hosting a summer camp that brought together LGBTQ students to talk about some of the adversities people in the community face today.
I know the struggle of feeling like you don’t have a place in technology. It can be a hard bubble to burst into, especially when companies fail to include diverse minds. If it weren’t for my awesome high school computer teacher, a tech career would likely still be a fleeting dream.
This partnership with Iowa Safe Schools was my chance to pay it forward. I sincerely hope that in the few hours I spent with these fellow students that I convinced a few of them to pursue their career goals and make the most of their opportunities.
Looking back at your internship, is there a moment or memory that sticks out to you?
JS: Every Friday our marketing team has a “Friyay” meeting to celebrate wins of the week. These were my favorite because it was a chance to unwind and look forward to our next move. One week was particularly big because our team hit some big milestones, partially thanks to our increased design output and strategy.
It’s a good feeling to see your work come full circle and have an impact.
What’s next for you?
JS: I’m moving onto my sophomore year at San Jose State University studying marketing and will be working for Dwolla out of our San Francisco office. With the incredible experience and knowledge I’ve gained from Dwolla, I’m super excited to keep forging along and creating a better world through design.