Designer Experience Work Life - Vans Inc. Internship 2008

in Self Improvement6 months ago (edited)

Designer Experience Work Life - Vans Skateboard Gear Corporate Internship 2008


Living in California one of the things I find fascinating is how the skateboard culture has started here and grew to be such a sport that has very rich fashion and powerful attitude that represents the youth. It has even became a Olympic sport recently!~

Skateboarding made its debut appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. It has also been provisionally approved by the IOC for inclusion at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

It is beginning of the year of 2008.
At the time I was beginning my senior year in college and it was time to add some internship experience to my belt. The college I attended is named Pasadena Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena California. I was majoring in Automotive/Car Design bachelor degree.

My graduation was set to be Fall of 2008... an extremely dangerous time to seek jobs in the work force due to the fact I was in the center of when the Financial Crisis hit hard that shook every industry and every asset known in history. Even though I knew I was at the wrong time and wrong major to graduate with the given circumstances I have figured a way to set the course into an opportunity. This story on how 'I overcame the situation into an opportunity' I will elaborate in another Blog Volume. I have already put it onto my todo blog list. :)

Boot Modified Color.jpg
Logo Sketch Rendering

Now, lets move on to the Vans story!~
So for internship experience as a car design major it was very unusual for students to apply for a product design company. I love skateboarding since I was a child and have so much battle scars on my elbows, knees, and ankles and often showed them off to skater friends. The influence skateboarding has shown globally around the world I think has shaped my life and my personality, no doubt. As a result, when I saw the opportunity on the bulletin board that Vans was hiring for internship and ask to submit application and portfolio... HELLZ YEA, I am gonna jump on that once in a lifetime opportunity!! You kidding me!? Submitted it as soon as I saw it that day.


I went on for an interview and the person who was interested was at the time Sr. Designer Safir Bellali. Also an Art Center graduate... I thank him for the experience he has given me till this day. Its really one of those jobs where I really thought was just so cool to have it on my tag. These are the times when I can see where going to school takes an advantage. Skill set as a designer is a given because we all know what level you need to be in the absolute basic level to become qualified. What people look for in my opinion is within the attitude and personality as a team player and to the company culture.


Being a automotive design major he asked me why I chose to be with Vans and not Honda? I replied that design doesn't need to create boundaries to limit oneself in the category of its major. I realize that all processes of design fundamentally follows the same creative work flow of problem solving. Whether it is in the function or its aesthetics a car designer should be able to do both when given enough courage and will. The first time for anything is not easy of course, however with this internship opportunity I will provide Vans product design concepts and ideas in a fresh perspective as an automotive designer point of view, and through this experience I can always remind myself to challenge what is unfamiliar and know that I can be creative and flexible throughout my career.


I asked him why did you choose me from all the other applicants? He replied, "We never had a transportation/car design major apply for this position. Your the first one, and we like to see what comes out of it."

Got the job.

The department I was involved was Vans/Protec which focused on protective wear for skateboarding and snowboarding. My boss from that point on was Safir.


When I first entered the building... Wow... talk about showcasing the famous checker board vans pattern, and "Off the Wall" Logo. Its impossible to miss this building.


I really wish I could have a phone camera of today to take photos of my experience. However, being a student with the time frame of early 2008 picture quality wasn't all that great but I will share what I had at the time. I realized most of the photos I took from my phone were mostly erased and I am using the photos I took with my friend who visited me to my office. These were the only on site images I have. However my design work is still saved and stored well. For those who are taking internships~ Take a lot of photos!!! Now!!


The whole internship goal was to do the following.

  1. Blue Sky Project
    What I think is the future of Vans/Protec. Conceptual design ideation sketch/rendering.

  2. Assist Vans projects
    Help designers who need assistance on current real world project.

Lets begin!~


Blue Sky Project

I envisioned that protective gear will understand our body like a trainer and it will learn to know where you will most likely fall and reinforce those areas ahead of time. Machine learning + Ai... My concept was a snowboard suit. The more you wear and use it the better it will understand you. Sounds so sci-fi and yes... it definitely was a bit too out there for Vans. If its really look into the future then lets imagine far out off the wall future.

Research on New Technology - Synthetic Muscle Fibers

Research on Shock Areas most likely for Injury on human body

Snowboard Suit Outer Initial Sketch Idea

Snowboard Suit Inner Layer - Layout of Synthetic Muscle Fibers

Snowboard Suit Outer Fabric Design & Styling

Snowboard Suit Patterns and Graphic Styling

New Concept of Shock Absorbing Structure and Form

Sean Whang Portfolio 2008_Page_024.jpg
New Concept of Shock Absorbing in perspective view

Application and Use of Shock Absorbing Structure Design to Helmet

Assist Current Vans Projects

Help designers who need assistance on current real world project.

Instructions Tag Graphics Layout Design

Hang Tag Graphics Design

Snowboard Boots Clips and Line Adjustment Ideation 1

Snowboard Boots Clips and Line Adjustment Ideation 2

Overall after finishing the internship there was a feeling of an accomplishment. And also an understanding of the importance of mentorship and guidance from a great boss.

Seriously , I have not seen this for a long time and now that I see it after my design experience seen from the eyes today. I am like hitting my head on the wall and quietly saying...


I can clearly now see how time and experience makes us more mature in the skills that we keep on sharpening... the thing is.. the changes are not noticed and cannot really be seen until I bring up past experiences and look at them one more time.

I must say I personally thank my boss Safir for being so patient with me... I can see it now clearly. If it were me I would totally criticize and bash on the concept but he has kept me going and supported me all the way through the last presentation. What he has guided in reality was to keep my creativity flowing through the guidance of freedom to design without any limits. Because now I know, ideas like this would have been pushed out and marked "too advanced and way too expensive to develop"... basically OUT! :) Its really refreshing to uncover and revisit my past work experience and share with you all... I actually learn something from it as well.

More Work Life Experiences coming up soon~ Thanks for coming by and checking out my blog post today. Stay tuned cause more is coming~
Work to Live not Live to Work.

PS : @wrestlingdesires I remember I wanted to let you know when I did the Vans work blog post. I am notifying you now. hehehehe.

Update on Vans Office in Cypress where I worked : I found out they moved to Costa Mesa~


I thought that logo was familiar, its stuck inside Greenbank Synagogue..


ohhhhhhh!!!! What daaas ist?? It is the vans logo 100%!!! what is it doing there?? that's pretty cool you got a good eye. :)

It is a little coincidental. I spotted your post and it kind of rang a bell. I looked back at mine (written only hours before) and the sticker is the same. It was quite high up so fuck knows how it got there!

Dude, it is really enjoyable to read all the content you produce. You tell us very well about the great things you do. The designs are great. Hey look at young @whangster79 14 years ago 🤣.

hahahahaha~~ Thanks man.
There is so much stories I want to tell that I hope it can inspire people and at the same time something that is just a fun read on our community.
The problem is finding the photos.... it is an absolute mess with duplicate copies everywhere... an thus another rabbit hole~~~~
And yea~~~ That was some young times~~~ young and dumb times actually. 😂
Cheers bro~

Dude these photos are really old. It's really normal when you can't find the photos. Just try to dig more that robbit hole 😂. Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

The photo bank rabbit hole is like you want to organize photos by year, and 35 mins later you are scavenging the entire files to erase every last survived hidden porn jpegs you forgot to delete. I got kids growing up so I gotta erase all traces!!!~~~ muhahaha! yup~ that's the rabbit hole

Awesome work! That beats my first job at McDonalds. ❤️

ohhh~ we haven't talked about first job homie. Mcdonalds is VIP luxury compared to mine.....Newspaper Delivery Boy to highrise residential apartments.... Seriously I have no Idea how I did it. All that so I can buy a playstation 1.... jeezus.

Although, I actually want to know more about your first job. Those are always fun.

oh i did a paperround too. I forgot about that , but no high rise... thats tough . lol

Great report from your Vans internship though, I was never really into Vans, but my wife is a big fan.

hahaha that game!~~ yea i guess we all did our run at the news paper. I remember waking up at 4 am and when the paper arrived it was still pretty hot... fresh off the press.

my wife like vans too~ I liked their clothes but I feel I am getting a bit outdated body feel. hehehe

hehehe yeah im in my 40s so too old for van coolness. !😅

by the way~ check this out. I was once like this idiot too~ fun yet dumb times~ clip is hilarious.

hahaha i am still like this . LOL 😂🚀 To the mooooooooon baby!

To the mooon my friend~~~ set da tone!!!!!!! Yeaaaaaa

We got this!!

This inspired me to write my own first internship post! Thanks for bringing back old memories. Looking forward to amazing clicks!

Hey man!~~~ Write one!~~ I wanna know about what your experience was like~~ Ultra curious... Pakistan stuff. :)
Thanks bro~

!PIZZA with !PGM Sauce ;)

Sent 0.1 PGM - 0.1 LVL- 1 STARBITS - 0.05 DEC - 15 SBT - 0.1 THG - tokens to @dlmmqb

remaining commands 4


The tokens that the command sends are: 0.1 PGM-0.1 LVL-0.1 THGAMING-0.05 DEC-15 SBT-1 STARBITS-[0.00000001 BTC (SWAP.BTC) only if you have 2500 PGM in stake or more ]

5000 PGM IN STAKE = 2x rewards!

Discord image.png

Support the curation account @ pgm-curator with a delegation 10 HP - 50 HP - 100 HP - 500 HP - 1000 HP

Get potential votes from @ pgm-curator by paying in PGM, here is a guide

I'm a bot, if you want a hand ask @ zottone444

Thanks so much for the tag 🙌

You must have been really tempted to try to get a permanent position there? It looks like a great work environment :) ...

Are you in Dreemport yet?

This post has been manually curated by the VYB curation project

No problem man~ my word is my promise. :)
Temptation to stay and settle down at vans yes, absolutely. It is the most skater culture driven, young atmosphere, with great people to be around with. I did think about it.

However once doing two of internship came about that literally changed the ball game to challenging myself to the next level.... the next internship was at Samsung Mobile... man this one was a challenge. story will be created by next week. :) thanks!!

That does sound like a challenge :) ... Not sure if it was worth leaving such a great place for, though 😂


@whangster79! You Are Alive so I just staked 0.1 $ALIVE to your account on behalf of @wrestlingdesires. (3/10)

The tip has been paid for by the We Are Alive Tribe through the earnings on, feel free to swing by our daily chat any time you want.

What do you call a house made of feathers?
A lite house.

Credit: reddit
@whangster79, I sent you an $LOLZ on behalf of @wrestlingdesires

Use the !LOL or !LOLZ command to share a joke and an $LOLZ

was it worth it? in the end probably not. ah hahahaha!! Yea it was a great place for sure brotha~~~

I look forward to the rest of your adventures :)

Thank you always for being there to read my blog~~ will bring more to the table.😀

I Must say the first picture i thought custom vans design , only to find out later it had to do with snowboard and skateboards , never heard of the brand before my self.

Great that you still have all these pictures of that period and thank you for showing them and sharing your story.

Internship , my internship must have been arround 1982 -83 i think 🤣

Thanks for the comment~ i am happy that i have solved a small mystery you had with the vans logo. :) If you have the time please share your experience in the 80's. man.... that was a good time to get a job. the golden 80's. hehehe.

I am currently creating a new community named WorkLife. Its still in the works and some lady touch ups and we'll be done by this week. Cone and join with the golden 80's. :) Cheers

yeah not sure what story to start with yet

Take your time~ no rush. :)

Damn, This is so fascinating and inspiring story of yours tho I want to hear how you overcome situation into opportunity.

Never tried skateboarding but always seen in movies that California is some place where people are kinda passionate about surfing or skateboarding.

Your experience say's you've came a long way ahead and lucky that you Got great boss who knows your potential and kept supporting you.

Looking forward to see more work life experiences of yours.

!PIZZA and have a Great day ahead.

Thanks for such wonderful comment~ :)

I am able to blog this experience since now I have taken a career break and been a bit burned out. Its funny how when you are a workaholic you really dont get to see the good that happens in the moment because your just so damn busy all the time. I am lucky to decide to have a break and try to absorb everything around me which I haven't been able to. It is now that I am able to see what happened and want to share the journey I experienced.

And with all honesty, it hasn't been all rainbows and butterfly's... there is also a dark side to what I have realized and what I should not take for granted. Also as a designer its not easy to find someone who moved to different countries and find career opportunities. I hope I can give some perspective to them, as well as even people who are not designers can see that everyone is not that much different after all when it comes to the pursuit of happiness.

Ahhhh.... The boss story~~~ That will be an interesting one. hehehehe.
So much to talk about.... Thanks for visiting my blog. I will keep the stories coming.


The rewards earned on this comment will go directly to the people( @stdd ) sharing the post on Twitter as long as they are registered with @poshtoken. Sign up at


PIZZA Holders sent $PIZZA tips in this post's comments:
@wrestlingdesires(3/15) tipped @whangster79 (x1)
stdd tipped whangster79 (x1)
dlmmqb tipped whangster79 (x1)
idksamad78699 tipped whangster79 (x1)

Learn more at

Yay! 🤗
Your content has been boosted with Ecency Points, by @whangster79.
Use Ecency daily to boost your growth on platform!

Support Ecency
Vote for new Proposal
Delegate HP and earn more

It was interesting to read so much in one post. I think it's worth saving for a memoir you can write in your old age! 😂 !LOLZ

I actually told myself it will be a post with around 500-600 words. but as i remembered the past and looking back at what i have done.... there are fresh insights that i never realized until this moment. mostly the fact when i see some of the sketches i tell myself "what daaas heck was i thinking!!" :)

💪 This is how the truth is born! I, too, have noticed that when I talk it out, or better yet, transfer it into text, interesting thoughts come!

Actually yes you are right! When I talk it out or type them... sometimes it leads to new thoughts too.... I would say more often. :)


@whangster79! You Are Alive so I just staked 0.1 $ALIVE to your account on behalf of @stdd. (6/10)

The tip has been paid for by the We Are Alive Tribe through the earnings on, feel free to swing by our daily chat any time you want.

Man what a sweet internship to get!! Especially the way things were in 2008... you had me at "it was encouraged to bring your skateboard to work" That's just class!!

Right? Yea I totally know what you mean by thats just class. hahahaha nice wording man. When all companies dont allow due to the fact they are worried its gonna damage the floor... what Vans did was lay out polished concrete and on top of that add a skateboard ramp for shits n giggles for employees to mess around.

Come to think of it.... yes man... that is class. :)

The world of design is quite extensive and great, what a great post, congratulations! I would love to skate on those ramps but I'm already rusty 😂

Don't be rusty my friend because at vans there was a 60 year old who still could skate like a pro. hehehehehe. Thanks for the comment~~!!

Oh! You are very right! hehe before I used to go to the hills and down the roads with a longboard, what a great feeling!