Congratulations on getting yourself an internship!
Now that you have secured one, your mind has shifted focus and you’re thinking about what to expect once you begin there. A first workplace is a great learning experience and a wonderful opportunity to build lasting relationships with a mentor. To let you make the most of this opportunity, Geunbae “GB” Lee (Product Designer@Facebook) shares his tips and tricks in the write up below.
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It’s Summer and many of us are embarking on our new and exciting journeys as design interns. At first, I thought about focusing my topic around a specific type of internship but while I was writing, I actually decided to keep it general so that the tips apply to Visual/UX/Product/Interaction or any other design-related internships. Assuming that you’ll have someone there to guide you through the internship, I won’t really stress on the size of the company either.
So that being said, congratulations on landing your design internship! I bet you’re extremely pumped up but at the same time, nervous of what’s at stake and what you would need to start doing. That is why I decided to come up with some people and work-related tips based on my personal experience that you might find useful.
- You get to meet a lot of new people but don’t be afraid to chat with them. If you sit next to a person that you don’t know (for example, during the orientation), be the first one to approach them!
- Try to make a good first impression to your peers and your managers. In any given person-to-person relationship, I personally think it’s very important to get this right. However, I’m not saying you should fake your true identity. Be your authentic self!
- Build good relationships with your teammates (engineers, researchers etc). You will at some point ask for their feedback, work with them to implement something or they could even be someone that will review your internship achievements.
- Join groups, events, critiques, education or whatever at your company or around the district to expand your network. Try to meet people outside of your school!
- Appreciate the effort that your recruiter, manager and the folks who are at the orientation put into helping you. Don’t be on your phone doing something else that are not important. Pay attention and show some respect.
- Engage in many one-on-one meetings with not only your managers and your recruiters but also with engineers, researchers, marketers, clients, or whoever you might be working together with. Get to know what their roles are within the company and the team. Also, try to find out how you can help them or communicate better when it comes down to your own work.
- If you’re an extrovert, great but still be careful when to exaggerate, over-talk or cut other people when they are talking. If you’re an introvert, this might be a good chance for you to boost up that self-confidence and the ability to socialize even better. To be honest, many people will approach you and you will have to approach them. So, try your best!
- If there are certain design tools that your company uses, try to learn them if you haven’t and even if you know already, try to be more comfortable with it.
- Try to find out the role that design plays within your own company and more specifically, how your overall team would work with a designer. It’s sometimes useful to set one-on-one meetings to find this out.
- You get thrown into a lot of meetings, tutorials, team structures and all that but try to zone in on the things that are high priorities to be aware of. As you slowly spend time doing projects and interacting with other people, you’ll gradually get to know more (at least what I think… haha)
- Try to plan in advance in order to get to places because new places are always hard to find. Don’t be late for your meetings, presentations and critique sessions.
- Make full use of the internal tools, documentation, wiki or whatever that are designed/organized to help interns or the full-time employees. Sometimes, finding this rich information by yourself rather than asking them to your manager or other people is far better for your own sake. Be independent!
- Try to remind yourself that although you are an intern that needs a lot of guidance and support, try to stand out like a full-time employee who is expected to have a good amount of impact. Get those design processes right and show what you are capable of.
- Investigate the problems, the overall ecosystem, type of businesses that the companies do and how you play a part in those early on. If you have questions about any of these, ask until you get it because later after a month, you are expected to know them.
- Keep your folders (design assets, documents, files etc) organized and prioritize your work efficiently.
- Ask more than one person for your design feedback. Try to tell a story and your rationale for coming up with the solution. Sometimes, introducing more than one potential solutions might be helpful in getting even more feedback. Don’t get too attached with one design that you come up with. Be open and willing to take in other opinions.
- Always look out for other opportunities outside of work as well (ex. intern hack-a-thons, side projects etc)