I wanted to take some time out to jot down some of the most important things that I learned over the past two months. When I look back, these really defined who I am as a designer and let me make the most out of the internship. I hope these pointers will help you, the reader, in some shape or form and there is something for you take back from this yourself 🙂
1. You’re on your own
It’s your internship. It’s your project. Step up and take control of your work from Day 1. This includes being accountable for the work you do and defending your decisions to anyone who questions it. Your mentor and your fellow colleagues are there to guide you and help you if you’re stuck at any place, but at the end of the day, you need to spearhead the entire initiative. From scheduling your own meetings to pitching your work to the stakeholders and interacting with your clients, no one will stop you from stepping up. In the end, it’s totally worth it.
In taking matters into my own hands, the growth I experienced as a designer was massive. I coordinated with my product manager directly, pulled the team together for meetings and presentations and set my own timeline all in two months (with due help from my mentor, of course). There’s a certain sense of independence I experienced, giving me the confidence to believe in myself and my decisions.
2. Always establish goals for the internship, project and yourself
At the start of the internship, it’s important you make a mental note of what you hope to take back from the internship and working with that company. You are there to grow as a designer and learn something unique, so don’t miss the opportunity. Want to learn how the design process works? Let your mentor know and work on your project accordingly. Want to be a part of what everyone’s doing? Schedule time with everyone and get to know what they’re up to. Have certain soft skills you want to develop? List them down and keep them in the back of your mind with everything you do.
For me personally, my mentor played a huge role when it comes to narrowing down on those goals. I walked into the office with an idea of developing as a designer and giving my best to the company. Working with Nutanix is not just about working for the company, but taking back from it too. Traits like customer obsession, ownership, diving deep and having a backbone are what separate the great designers from the good ones, and my mentor ensured I checked all the boxes as the weeks progressed. I couldn’t be more thankful!
3. Create a timeline… and stick to it!
You’ll be surprised at how fast nine weeks can go by in an internship! It’s like… Whooosh! It’s gone! And you won’t even realize it. Plan things accordingly. Stick to your deadlines, and if you shoot past, make up for it. Your timeline or your deadlines don’t have to be very specific and particular, but at least you’ll know how much you would have to accomplish in how much time, and that clarity would prove to be indispensable.
I still remember bringing up how the weeks are shooting past, every now and then, and before I knew it, I had a week left with the project almost done and dusted. I was proud of what I had managed to accomplish in the short amount of time I had, but I was also yearning for more.
4. Get critical feedback as regularly as possible
Take my words seriously when I tell you that if you don’t run your work by the stakeholders at regular intervals, you could have all your work done for how many ever weeks scrapped in less than an instant. It’s imperative you always involve the higher authorities when it comes to the decisions you are taking that would directly or indirectly affect the product, which in the case of design, is almost always.
Having constantly run my work by the PM in weekly cycles, I managed to go through many iterations for my design and also ensured I narrowed down on the appropriate direction for the product within two months itself. Along with this, running my work by the rest of the design team always brought up small issues that I overlooked. At the end of the day, its the little things that matter!
5. Speak up! Express yourself
Seriously, go around. Talk to people. Get to know what they are working on. Go to more people. The entire office is a playground at this point, just get to know everyone! They all are usually equally excited to get to know you as you should be. I’ll be honest here though, this isn’t really my strong suit, and if there’s one regret from this entire internship, it would be how I didn’t go around enough, I didn’t speak up enough and that I didn’t talk to everyone enough. And that’s going to stay with me now.
Not just social interactions too. Be it in a meeting or a presentation, if something came to your mind, say it. One thing companies look forward to when hiring interns is the outside perspective and a fresh mindset they bring to the table, its very likely what you have in mind is new and refreshing. Use that to your advantage.
6. Aaand finally… Have fun! Take a break!
It’s so easy to get lost in the workflow and forget everything else. This makes it even more important for you to remember to take a step back and take that break. Go around, explore, laugh around, play for a while… Give yourself the time off after a hard day at work. Work-life balance is a thing, and so are burnout and fatigue, if you know where I’m taking this. Its absolutely essential to maintain that balance, for you to truly appreciate everything even more.
From house parties with some good company (Anshuman Dhar, looking at you :3 ) to casual dinners, staying late in the office battling it out at the PS4 console to spending a chill weekend in the room binging Stranger Things from Season 1 all the way through to 3, it’s been an absolute blast this summer in Bangalore, in its own unique way.
This entire experience with Nutanix and the time I spent in Bangalore has been an enriching experience with never a dull moment. I have skipped over quite a few details in this entire article because there’s just so many! All I have to say is, So long… and thanks for all the fish! :”)
PS: That’s an inside joke, I’m sorry!