During the summer of 2021, I had to do an internship as a part of my university course. Being a visual communications design student, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many different design courses and was very keen on finding something related to UX/UI design.
One important thing I did was think about my personal preferences. Would I fit in better in a smaller environment where everyone knows each other? A big company with a recognizable brand? Or maybe a combination of both?
It was easier to imagine myself in a smaller-sized company, and I was also determined to find a community that respects its employees and encourages them to stay curious. More importantly, since I was afraid that no one would take me seriously as a student with no previous job experience, it was crucial that I feel validated. There were still many restrictions due to COVID-19, and I was very stressed if I could even find an internship opportunity at all. I’ve decided to use my personal networks to explore possibilities, and that’s how I got to Undabot.
Even though they didn’t have any open design internship positions on their website, I emailed them anyway to see if they could maybe offer me an internship. Lo and behold: after a couple of days, they got back to me saying they were more than happy to have me as an intern.
"Leave your ego at the door"
This was the first thing my mentor said to me on my first day at work, and I immediately knew I’ve made the right choice for my internship. Not only did such an attitude help create a healthy workplace, but it also proved to be necessary when creating a digital experience for users. After all, our work centres around their needs and not my opinion on something being pretty or not. Besides that, I learned very quickly that each Undabot designer is responsible for creating both UX and UI, instead of only focusing on one element of the job.
My mentors also taught me that accepting feedback is a part of the learning process and showed me how to use it as a tool for self-improvement. Sometimes the feedback is positive, sometimes negative — but it’s always a way to improve your self-esteem, prevent the same mistakes from happening again, and enrich relationships with mentors.
After becoming acquainted with how the company works, I was immediately given an assignment: I had to design an app. My mentors gave me a topic for the app and short instructions, and off I went.
I began by browsing the competition and taking screenshots to see the similarities and differences between various apps. After that, I started working on the user flow and features I wanted to incorporate. In the next phase, I worked on wireframes and style guides. I did a few sketches on paper and later proceeded to do the rest on Figma. Finally, it was time to work on the on-screen design and prototype, do user testing, and incorporate everything in the final presentation.
I’ve also had help along the way, and instead of waiting for an official weekly meeting, I could always ask my mentor to hop onto a call and discuss any issues.
There is more than one solution to a design problem
During the creative process, designers (especially us juniors) are often insecure about design choices. While it’s necessary to follow some principles and methods (as described in this blog post), there will always be more than one solution to a design problem. As designers, our prime responsibility is to keep the target audience in mind and approach the design as objectively as we can.
When I wasn’t sure about the direction I should take, I could always reach out to my mentors for creative or technical advice. During my internship journey, they helped me understand the differences between designing for iOS and Android platforms. They also gave me valuable feedback on my assignment and suggested some other UX and UI design variations on different screen resolutions. After that, I got to know the platforms better and could make choices more independently!
Being curious is a must-have
Curiosity is one of the skills that definitely make you a better designer. Asking questions, researching, and having the courage to try new things helps you understand the world around us, which also applies to design. We usually design solutions for different products or services, and we can’t know everything about a specific topic or field.
However, our goal is to try to understand the context, which is where that curiosity comes in handy. Not to mention, there are also always new technologies, trends, and limitations designers need to master. Curiosity sparks innovation that is so welcomed in the industry, and also personally rewarding. Undabot is definitely a place that encourages new and unique ideas, especially when you are an intern. Instead of settling for a single solution, I was always encouraged and challenged to find multiple ones.
As for my assignment, I spent a couple of days researching and finding similar apps that could help me determine which features are missing.
After that, I interviewed a couple of people from my surroundings to gather the little pieces of information necessary for creating personas. Some of the ideas I even got during my coffee break. At the final stage of my curiosity journey, I needed to decide whether these ideas were useful for my app or just interesting, sipping-on-coffee thoughts.
Creative work is never over, but you have to know when to stop
When I first started working on my design task, I had so many ideas and features I wanted to incorporate. I was very excited to include as many things as possible, but my mentors told me to pause and try to differentiate between features that are necessary and those that are fun to have. After some time, I realized I had gone too deep with my analysis and was not completely satisfied with my UX and UI, which led to a creative block.
That was when I decided to take a step back and implement the advice from other designers to remove some of my initially planned features. Deciding that my project was finished was very hard for me because I didn’t believe it was good enough to present. Eventually, it was time to share my final work, and after the mentors praised me, I realized I was satisfied. Now when I look back, I think I could have done this or changed that, but overall I’m happy I completed something — and took their advice on when to stop!
Oh, and I have to say I thought about my design even when I wasn’t working, whether I was taking a walk, going to the cinema, cooking, etc. Of course, I wasn’t obsessed, but this helped me find inspiration and ideas outside the workplace.
Take time to relax and have fun (especially with your colleagues!)
I had a lot of fun from the very beginning of my internship and was grateful to be a part of such a positive work environment. At times it was tricky to concentrate because I was laughing too much, but moments of joy and laughter helped me focus more on my assignment later on.
Also, spending time with the team helped us build mutual trust and encouraged me to communicate more freely. After work, we often went for drinks or did other fun group activities, like quizzes!
Looking back at my internship, I realize how rewarding it is to be a part of a passionate and hardworking team.
I had a lot of time to work on my assignment which helped me improve my self-esteem, and had a lot of fun creating something and collaborating with others. At the end of my journey, I even got a permanent design internship as a junior UX/UI designer. Shoutout to my main mentors, Ana and Jelena!
And thanks to everyone at Undabot who made my internship such a great experience!