7 Things I learnt in my summer internship at Sprinklr as a product designer

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Learnings from an IIT pre-final year design undergrad’s internship experience.

This summer Sprinklr hired interns for the first time from IIT Guwahati. They had always made their mark in the placement season by picking the cremé de la cremé amongst every graduating batch.

After a long month of sleepless nights refining my portfolio, completing my tasks and practicing mock interviews, I was pleasantly surprised to receive news that I had been selected by Sprinklr and they were going to offer me 1 lakh rupees a month as a stipend, the highest at the time for any design intern.

Sprinklr is a B2B company that is headquartered in New York and has been kicking ass in the social media space since quite some time now. Sprinklr deploys a first to market approach in terms of rolling out their products which means that things move at an insanely fast pace here and their products are killer. The CTO literally sits in the Gurgaon office and approvals/requirements happen within the blink of an eye.

Having said that, here’s what I’ve learned from my 67 days of stay here:

1. Keep learning, the day you stop learning is the death of your career

The journey to hitting exponential growth began even before I stepped foot into their Gurgaon office. Bi-weekly personalised e-mails were flown in drafted by Vikram Aditya, the Associate Design Director of Sprinklr consisting of what I would like to call ‘Design Nirvana’.

The e-mails would consist of everything from what books and medium articles to read, which podcasts to listen to, what websites to look at for inspiration right to whom to follow on twitter to help us become full rounded product designers.

I’ve made reading books a habit now since they not only improve my knowledge but also improve vocabulary and help me clearly articulate what I want to say.

2. Constantly push the envelope

The company’s motto/vision is to be the ‘World’s most loved enterprise platform’ and they truly embody that by being client obsessed. Going that extra mile to add delight into your products and designs is something that you constantly strive to do.

Working hard and constantly pushing yourself to the limit is not uncommon here. Sprinklr is highly meritocratic, which means that they will never leave a stone unturned when it comes to recognizing and rewarding people who are constantly and consistently delivering value.

3. Work with the best people

If I was asked to name Sprinklr’s strongest asset, even with such a kick-ass product I would still say that it is their people; comprising of some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, they hire product managers from the top IIM’s(A, B, C), developers and designers from the top IIT’s and NIT’s. I’ve constantly observed a strong culture of outside-in innovation here.

4. Feedback matters

Keep asking for feedback from as many people as possible to hear different perspectives. However, too many cooks spoil the broth and multiple perspectives can add confusion and can manifest into a roadblock if you don’t remember that you still constantly define which of these feedbacks apply to your use case and hence alter product decisions.

At Sprinklr, we had an all team discussion/presentation every alternate week where the whole design team would provide feedback on our progress.

5. Sell your designs

Your products won’t sell themselves and your product decisions won’t defend themselves.

An important difference I’ve learned while making presentations here is that unlike college projects, you aren’t giving a walkthrough of your product, it’s features or showing how many different iterations you made anymore. You want your customers to invest real money into buying your product which means that you have to create real value for their business. Your presentation should create a story that revolves around your customer’s business, solving an essential problem that they face in a way that no one else can while stressing on features that create value or generate revenue for them at every touchpoint.

If you can’t convince your team, mentors and coworkers internally, your product will never see the outside world. Learning to sell your product and defend your design decisions is crucial for your survival in the company and in the industry.

6. Work hard party harder

Having a long week at office can cause a lot of stress and although there are both sides of the coin to partying, if done right, can be a great stress buster and an amazing tool to socialize and build team spirit.

In the two month period that I was there, we had a Pool party, multiple dinners at some of the best restaurants and pubs in town, not to mention the in house office parties that we had almost every other week.

7. Travel

Growth is not a linear function, a step back could be a step forward in another direction. Pursue hobbies other than work and keep improving yourself as a person in as many directions as possible while devoting most of your time to the entity you prioritize the most. I’ve personally found traveling to be the best way to get out of my comfort zone and experience life in different ways.

Sprinklr encourages travel and constantly sends it’s a star performing employees on paid vacations to exotic locations. My mentors were kind enough to let me take half a week of office off to take a break and travel. I felt completely rejuvenated and refreshed after my 18km trek in Parvati Valley.

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