Student Research Q&A: John Klapheke on his Lego internship experience

February 22, 2019

This weekend, sophomore John Klapheke -- majoring in communication and design, art and technology -- will be among 16 Bellarmine University students presenting their work at the Kentucky Honors Roundtable, hosted by Bellarmine.
The Kentucky Honors Roundtable discussion gives students from across Kentucky an opportunity to present their research while faculty members exchange ideas about best practices.
john klaphekeEarlier this week, we highlighted Bellarmine senior Trevor Stantliff's research on lung cancer. Today, Klapheke answers questions about his recent internship with the Lego Group at their headquarters in Denmark. 
Read more about Klapheke’s internship in the spring issue of Bellarmine Magazine, which will be online and in homes next month.
Bellarmine University: Why did you apply for Lego's design internship?
John Klapheke: I applied for this internship with the Lego Group since it has been a dream of mine for several years. I have always been passionate about building with Lego bricks, and to finally have the opportunity to see what it was like designing for them was too good to pass up.
BU: How did you hear about this internship in the first place?
Klapheke: I heard about this internship through, a site similar to LinkedIn.  When I made my profile on there, I checked the box of the Lego Group as a company I was interested in. Prior to that, I researched internships with the Lego Group but could not find any. Some weeks later, after having created an account on the site, I got an email advertising for this internship. The link took me to Lego's website, so I knew it was legitimate!
BU: What kind of designs did you work on at Lego?
Klapheke: While much of what I worked on at Lego is top secret, I can tell you that I worked on concept models for the Creator Expert team's 2020/2021 portfolios. The great thing about working with this team is many of these designers designed sets I played with as a kid. It was surreal getting to work with these people on a daily basis and knowing that I too was making a future impact on a kid's life. 
BU: What did you learn from your internship?
Klapheke: There are a lot of things I learned from this internship, the most profound of which is time management. Having never lived away from home before, the challenge of properly budgeting my time was placed before me daily. I also learned how using a cut-and-glue approach works for a design team in a state-of-the-art design hub like the Lego Group. 
Additionally, I learned about all of the hurdles a model must overcome before it is released or even announced to the public. Each model goes through a rigorous design process that considers more facets and ramifications of a design than anyone is capable of recognizing firsthand. Lego has indeed nearly perfected the art of designing a model. 
BU: What’s next for you?
Klapheke: What's next for me? Such a good question. My post-internship goals are becoming more familiarized with photography, filmmaking and the Adobe Creative Suite. Additionally, I am looking toward motivational and public speaking as a new discipline to master. 
BU: Is this your first time presenting about this internship?
Klapheke: This will be my first time presenting about this internship in a public setting. While I am not nervous about presenting, I am nervous my delivery of the internship will not do it justice, simply because words cannot describe what a powerful and life-changing experience it was for me. Having the chance to design at the Lego Group was a life goal I never thought fully achievable, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to accomplish this dream so early on. 
Article by Daniel Spitza, intern in Bellarmine's Office of Marketing and Communication.
Research summary provided by Klapheke: 
The Lego Design Internship, by John Klapheke.
The Lego Design Internship is a part-time job for five months in Billund, Denmark. A student, who must be enrolled at a university (with a preferably design-related major), works for the company in one of its design departments. Throughout the internship, the interns experience everyday life in Billund and what it is like to be a real Lego designer. There are regular deadlines to be met, real projects to be worked on, and frequent design meetings where the intern is kept up to date with company-wide news and endeavors.

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