UX Design Interns: What to expect and how to make it worth your while
In today’s economic climate that’s shrouded in uncertainty, an internship in User Experience (UX) can be a great opportunity to learn new skills, make networking connections and boost your overall career game. It can also be a great way for someone making a career transition to delve into a new industry. Projected job growth in the Australian UX sector is forecast to jump 22% in the next decade. With this growth in mind, it’s worth noting that UX is a notoriously difficult area to break into without the required expertise. For this reason, Studio LDN is committed to support early career UX designers who are passionate about breaking into the industry. In a post-Covid world, working environments will be flexible and customised around hours worked and lifestyle considerations, so we’re pleased to see that UX came seventh in Forbes’ list of top 20 jobs for work-life balance.
Kristina Hedberg is one of many students, upon completing their undergraduate degree, who decided to dive straight into employment and apply her newfound knowledge. After initially studying psychology and wanting a change, she became curious about UX and eventually switched to a Bachelor Degree of Design Computing at the University of Sydney. Kristina instantly enjoyed the course content and grew with confidence as she navigated the exciting world of UX and could see huge potential in this industry. UX design is listed as one of the top five in-demand skills according to a report published in 2020. This trend is expected to continue in 2022 as UX becomes a Google ranking factor, meaning businesses will be expected to focus on their UX to remain competitive.
Finding the Internship
In her final year of studies, Kristina decided to find a workplace internship that counted towards her course grade. At the same time Studio LDN was advertising for a Product Designer. Although the advertised role felt beyond her reach, Kristina used a strategic – and often well received approach – of engaging with a potential employer. In-depth research into Studio LDN and an understanding of their culture, clients and projects, set the stage for a personalised email introduction (in addition to a well organised portfolio) to James Sutton, Founder and Director at Studio LDN. In just a few weeks of the internship, Kristina felt like her curiosity had been justified from when she initially decided to switch degrees.
“I developed a growing passion for user experience design. In particular, the combination of creativity and logic drew me to the field, as it aligned well with my strengths in design. I have always had a good eye for detail and I enjoy synthesizing information, but behind it all is curiosity. Pursuing a career in design was soon at the top of my list, and when I stumbled across Studio LDN’s job listing for a Product Designer on LinkedIn, I was sold.”
Gaining Knowledge and Confidence in the Workplace
Kristina’s internship was connected to her studies, so in just three months (one semester), she immersed herself in a microcosm of the UX world with all of the moving cogs that become visible in a workplace environment. In this short space of time, a student can have a crash-course in various software programs, experience best-practice industry principles, and improve communication and confidence around fellow colleagues, clients and stakeholders. This type of experience could go two ways, and if the industry isn’t something you’d like to pursue then you’ve sacrificed just a small period of time. This is rarely time wasted, as you’ve most likely boosted indirect skills such as communication, time management and organisational planning. However, if the experience does go well, then it opens many doors and allows a student to hit the ground running in whatever happens next.
“During my time with Studio LDN as an intern, I grew as a designer, but also as an individual. Working on real-life projects let me expand upon the skills I gained in my degree while also learning new things that I have never encountered before. Skills I acquired and/or expanded on during my internship with Studio LDN include; working with data-driven products, creating and managing components libraries, working with accessibility in design, working in an agile environment and managing ad hoc tasks. Covid-19 definitely impacted the internship as restrictions required it to be conducted remotely. However, this proved to be a non-issue, as the norm is that companies continuously adapt and evolve with the digital world. Studio LDN also uses platforms such as Slack and Asana to plan and communicate.”
As an intern at the beginning of your career journey, you will almost certainly learn key foundational skills that will inform you at any future work setting. It can help guide your current career aspirations and provide informed alternative career choices too. Kristina’s story is a great case study that demonstrates where the student is engaged and eager at every step of the journey, doors can open. Her journey from initial researching Studio LDN, through to her present-day involvement in key projects, shows the great rewards of her hard work, strategic thinking and creativity.
Kristina’s mentor, James Sutton (owner of Studio LDN and experienced UX designer) reflected on the internship journey.
“As a UX business that wants to make a meaningful impact, we feel that by supporting the next cohort of work-ready graduates we can offer so much more to the industry and our clients. Here at Studio LDN, we take pride in helping the next generation of researchers and designers break into the industry. We acknowledge that there’s a raft of untapped, fresh talent out there – so when those up-and-coming graduates show a keen desire to dive in, it can be a win-win situation for both parties. We are so lucky to have found Kristina, she is a great addition to the team and our clients love her work”
Kristina’s journey is a symbiotic coming-together of a determined student and an organisation with a culture of helping students blossom.
“Being trusted and taken on by a small consultancy like Studio LDN has not only given me the chance to expand my skills but also given me absolute confidence in my career choice. The three months I spent assisting the team has proved to me that UX and UI design is definitely the direction I would like to take my career. I would without doubt recommend this internship to a peer, as the experience has been nothing but positive and something anyone could learn from. Graduating from my degree with a full-time job was something I didn’t dare to dream of, but I have proven to myself that hard work pays off.”
Kristina’s Top 3 Tips for Anyone Looking for an Internship
1. Do your research on the business that you’ve identified to approach
2. Take a strong portfolio along to your interview
3. Be confident of your ability from day one and don’t be shy!
After completing 120 hours as part of her study requirements, Kristina continues to work at Studio LDN as a full time UX Designer and is currently heavily involved in their larger scale projects, from research through to ideation.