After going through six terms straight at ArtCenter, I decided to take a term off to do an internship. I wanted to learn more about what product designers do as professionals and validate what I’ve learned at ArtCenter. One opportunity led to another, and a term off turned into an entire year away doing three internships. The first was at Propelland, the second at Facebook and the third at Mercedes-Benz. Each of these experiences have taught me different lessons that have helped me to grow tremendously.
Come to think of it, doing internships is just like prototyping my life. Prototypes represent possible futures, and I get to learn from my internship experiences what works for me and what doesn’t.
While each internship was drastically different from one another in terms of company culture and work environment, the skills required were generally similar. As a product designer, I worked in cross-functional teams, conducted user research, designed user flows, built prototypes, produced specs and final assets and worked on implementation with engineers. Many of these functions validate the skills I need as a product designer that Art Center has helped me hone and acquire.
As an ArtCenter student, I’ve come to realize is that the hefty amount of deliverables and presentations required weekly in ArtCenter’s program has allowed me to develop a strong work ethic and good communication skills. These skills have helped me navigate various difficult situations in the workplace, and enabled me to work and perform more effectively under pressure.
If I have to pick the most important top three things that I learned during the entirety of my internship experiences, they would be self-awareness, self-initiation and prioritization. Acquiring a higher sense of self-awareness has allowed me to constantly reflect on how I can perform better. Self-initiative allows me to better drive my own project and not have to constantly depend on the progress of others. Learning how to prioritize has enabled me to make decisions and tradeoffs quickly and become a more efficient designer.