At the Halfway Point: Reflecting on my Design Internship
UX Planet — Medium | tif.wang rhymingchemist
It has been about 6 weeks since I started interning at Intuit as a UX designer. Though that time may seem long, when you are busy and engaged with what you are doing, time moves much faster. These past weeks have been filled with learning about the product and structure of the company, understanding the problem I was given, attending fun-filled intern events and bonding with the other designers on my team who I have slowly begun to feel more at ease with each passing day.
During the duration of my time, I have started to understand more about how I work and how to be more comfortable with being in control of my destiny (a.k.a. what I do in my job and how I can contribute to my team and the company). Here are some high level learnings that have drastically affected the way I communicate and how that communication is able to help me meet my project goals and accelerate my learning.
Things I have learned:
For anyone working in the design industry or any industry in general, being open about your actions can alleviate unwanted pain and misunderstandings. I make sure to be very clear about what I am doing and whether I need help. This allows my manager or my co-workers to effectively give me guidance and to prevent any assumptions from being made if it looks like I haven’t been making any progress or not asking for help when I need it.
An internship should be treated as not just a project in which you are assigned to, but a learning experience where both you and your teammates can learn and collaborate with each other.
Instead of immersing yourself deep in your project without sharing your progress, you should be open about your progress as possible. Your manager wants to help you and in order to do that, they need to know how you are doing. As an intern, giving my manager and teammates clear vision to my project allows them to give me direction and enhance my design process by providing different perspectives/frameworks that I can apply to my project and future projects. They can also contribute or merge forces if any of our projects overlap which can allow us to solve multiple problems. For me, I have more opportunity to learn from amazing designers.
If you don’t know how to move forward, just ask
In the beginning stages of my project, I could say I was lost and didn’t quite know how to move forward with my project. I was so used to being given tight deadlines and guidelines that I never really learned the importance behind developing a solid plan or rationale before making something. Luckily I told my manager about my problem and we were able to work it out together , with my manager teaching me new skills in the process and approaching the problem in a different way. You can read more about the problem I was facing here.
Ask for feedback early
This relates back to my previous point of not knowing what to do. Design is all about iteration and getting feedback to continually improve. In other words, feedback is what drives your designs forward. During the first few years of my design career, I needed to learn to not be afraid of asking questions or to approach people people who could give me the insight I needed to help me move forward with projects. Overtime, I learned to embrace approaching people for help and have been able to accelerate the way I work because I wasn’t afraid to ask for what I need and want.
Things I can do better:
The more informally you ask for feedback the better
Even though I know feedback brings forth clarity to your work, but I tend to ask for feedback more formally or when I get lost, rather than simply going to one of my teammates and asking “Hey, if you have time now or later, could you give me feedback on what I am doing on?” Maybe it’s my habit to not bother someone when they look like they are working, but if I waited too long for feedback, it might be too late and potentially no one would benefit from the results. I need to casually ask for feedback from as many people as I can in order to accelerate my work even further and get to the point of a somewhat polished product backed up by a solid rationale. I want to be able to do as much as I can in the duration of time I have and this means getting lots of feedback from different people.
Put your stuff in front of as many people as possible
Just like how getting feedback on your work is important, you need to be able to present it to people. If someone on your team looks busy, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask them for their time and to set up a time where you can show them what you are doing. That way, they will be able to help you and you will be able to get feedback on what’s good or what needs to be done or improved upon. Most of the time, I get so lost in my project that I need an outsider’s perspective to keep me on track and to help see the bigger picture of the problem I am trying to solve. The process of getting my designs in front of people and getting their feedback have strengthened my projects and/or presentations because I would keeping iterating.
These are some of the high level tips I have learned from working as a UX design intern. Soft skills such as communication are just as important to have as hard skills because the better you are at communicating your ideas, the more people will be able to understand and appreciate your designs. Design is clarity. Clarity is design.
Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin 🙂
If you need any design or interviewing advice, message me on Clarity to request a time to chat!
If you liked my post, please recommend it!
Links to some other cool reads:
- Prepping for Design Interviews (My Microsoft Onsite Experience)
- UX is Grounded in Rationale, Not just Design
- The Unspoken Truths of your First UX Internship
- What makes Top Tech Companies Successful?
- Get any job with a stellar portfolio presentation
- The Types of Design Research every Designer should know NOW
- When did Design become so Easy?
At the Halfway Point: Reflecting on my Design Internship was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.