An Unconventional Intern

By Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence Share

This summer we have been lucky enough to have Ella join us as our lovely Maptia intern. An illustrating, tea-brewing, yoga-teaching, photo-essay-creating extraordinaire, it has been fun welcoming Ella to into the Maptia family. In this post she spills the beans on what being an intern at Maptia is really like. And yes, it does involve making a lot of maps! Find her on Twitter here.


Enter Ella

At the end of last year, when asked by Maptia's CEO Dorothy (disclaimer: my perfectionist older sister of the compelling, globetrotting variety) whether I would be interested in a summer internship, I tried to give the impression that I was giving it careful consideration and tactically weighing up my options...

Did I want to take up an opportunity that offered me experience in nearly every aspect of life? Probably. Would I want to live and work with 4 unusually awesome people while helping them bring an incredible idea to life? It was likely. And would I be happy with the long hours of sunshine, endless waves and outrageous adventures that Morocco promised? Affirmative.

In fact, the answer was always going to be yes. 

taghazout morocco fishing boats

Unassuming wooden fishing boats actually make a disproportionate amount of noise in the otherwise silent early hours of the morning. I'm trying to recognise the advantages of being woken up at 6am.

I cannot compare this ‘internship’ to anything else, but I can say with certainty that it is most definitely unconventional. A few things that probably haven’t happened to any other intern (in the history of time) thus far include suffering 3 days of what was probably food poisoning that I really thought might send me to my grave, being woken up every day shortly after dawn by fishing boat engines and unreasonably vocal goats passing below the window, opening the wooden shutters one morning only to have one of them fall off completely and crash rather conspicuously to the ground (luckily no one was walking below, otherwise I may have been liable for a shutter-related death), and evening yoga sessions on a roof terrace that offers a vast, unobstructed and entirely unimpressive view of sunset over the Atlantic.

morocco buildings sunrise taghazout

Though flea-ridden and homeless, most of the stray dogs here are in suspiciously good health, and are always to be found in annoyingly good moods - or occasionally exploring the rooftops of Taghazout. 

Of course there are some more normal happenings, such as constant coffee brewing (tea is also consumed in nonsensical amounts), days when I don’t seem to take my eyes off the screen at all (except to make said coffee), nights when it seems acceptable to work until 4am, and the endless reading and research that is inescapable when involved with this type of project.

So what is it actually like to work as an intern for Maptia? As you may or may not have guessed, maps are pretty much an all-day everyday thing here, and there are always several crazy map-related ideas in the pipeline. I've accidentally ended up going back to my illustration roots, and alongside Photo Essay curation have found time to draw typographic maps, postcards, and the Maptia manifesto. The past few weeks I have sent more emails than I can count (my inbox has never been so out of control) and have, surprisingly, really enjoyed being thrown in at the deep end - whether it's tackling Photoshop, endlessly proof-reading blog posts, or (perhaps the most thrilling of all) keeping an eye on Maptia finances. But I really cannot complain for a second; with the ocean right outside the door, stress simply doesn't thrive here. Infrequent and insignificant moments of, "Everybody panic! IMMEDIATELY. There are so many maps I haven't made! Dorothy, it is simply not feasible for one tiny intern to make 100 maps in 20 days!? Wait - is it?" are almost always resolved with 20 minutes of reasonable thinking while floating in the Atlantic.

taghazout morocco surfing waves

It is quite impossible not to be inspired by the place and the people, and I'm now convinced that you can never have too many photos of waves.

I’m yet to figure out how I will ever leave Maptia (with my heart still intact) at the end of the summer, because it currently feels like a) the best kind of dysfunctional family and b) home. I suppose it’s pretty likely that I’ll be able to help out occasionally from a distance, and almost inevitable that I’ll be crossing the globe at some point to turn up unannounced at the next Maptia HQ, wherever that may be. 


Date added
Location Tagahzout, Morocco