During the summer of 2018, I had the amazing opportunity to work at Workfront in Lehi, Utah as a UX Design Intern for 12 weeks. I worked alongside multiple senior UX designers on their projects on a rotation cycle. This was my first UX internship and my first time working at a tech company. Needless to say, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, one of the first things I did before my internship started was reading a ton of Medium articles of what I should expect and other design interns’ experiences.
Here are some things I learned from my experience and some tips that may give you better understanding of what to expect and on how to make the most out of your first internship experience:
1. No One is There to Hold Your Hand Every Step of the Way
There is very minimal hand holding. On the first week of my internship, things were pretty slow. I spent most of my first week going through on-boarding, getting assigned a project, and learning more about the company. The first week was a bit overwhelming for me, as I honestly had no idea what was happening except that a bunch of information was being thrown at me all day and I was expected to be up to speed within a few weeks. Once given a project, it is pretty much up to you on how you move the project forward. Though I remember there were times where I was stuck, my manager was always there to help guide me and move forward. Your manager is not going to give you instructions on how to do everything, but rather help you facilitate your own unique path as a UX designer. Take initiative of your own design process. Gather your own data to backup your design decisions.
When you’re given a problem, don’t be afraid to conduct user research on your own. Be curious about your users. Facilitate brainstorming activities with the team (collaboration in a cross-functional team is important!) In these sessions, you can really get insights from people in different departments and build off of their designs. By having the engineers there, they can tell you whether an idea is feasible or not. Since everyone was involved early on in the process, this makes signing off the final designs easier.
2. Set Goals
This one may seem obvious, but oftentimes we are overwhelmed with work and we forget about goals. Write them down. Print them out and stick them onto your desk. Discuss them with your manager. Make sure someone knows about your goals to help hold you accountable. You are at your job to learn. Know what you want to accomplish and learn as much as you can at your internship since you are only there for a short period of time.
3. Ask for Feedback Often
UX design isn’t done in a silo. Ask for feedback often. This may be as simple as asking the person next to you, “Hey, I’m working on X. Do you have time to give some feedback?” One thing I found helpful was asking engineers for feedback. They are the ones building the product. They are the ones that will really challenge your designs and ask the why’s. They may even suggest different ideas.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback; most people are willing to help.
4. Receiving Feedback
As an intern, you may feel like you always have to listen to your mentor’s feedback, but never let one person’s feedback guide your designs. If you think your design is better, prove it. Do some user testing and show the data.
5. Don’t Forget About Process
UX design is a process. As young designers, we oftentimes want to go to our first solution and forget all about process. Before even designing, make sure you really understand the problem you are trying to solve. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. Write job stories. Ask questions. Whiteboard all your ideas. Draw user flows. Create low-fidelity wireframes. Once you have really understood the problem, then draw out the high-fidelity screens. All ideas are assumptions and all assumptions should be tested.
6. Take a Break
Being at work for 40 hours a week is tiring. Take a break. Walk around and schedule 15 minutes to chat with your coworkers. At Workfront, we have weekly massages, ping pong, pool table, etc. Definitely take advantage of the perks that your company offers you!
Plus, work is way more enjoyable when you’re having fun.
These are some things I learned at my first UX design internship. I hope this article is helpful. I was very fortunate to be a part of the internship program and be able to contribute to the company.
I want to thank Workfront again for giving me the opportunity to work and for giving me an amazing experience!