UX Intern Looking Back 3 Years After the Internship

We have the U.S. conference in San Francisco, and I’m with, you know, Ching, who was our intern three years ago. She has several articles on our website about her internship projects. So here I’d like to focus on what happened after the internship first. You know, please tell us about the job you landed after you graduated.

Sure. Thank you, Jacob. So, as Jacob said, I was an intern three years ago at Nielsen Norman Grove. And now I’m a user experience researcher at LinkedIn focusing on the member experience. I’ve been working on a wide spectrum of different areas that you might also use on LinkedIn, such as connecting and networking site LinkedIn, or a team actually focusing the whole process of the research in the product development cycle, including foundational, formative and evaluator. So recently actually I have been experimenting with our later research project, which is more on the program base, and we do expert review and heuristic evaluation. So yes, we do have or internal in-house heuristic principles, which was actually heavily based on our classics.

Jakov, you’ve got an awesome job, you know. What do you think you got out of the internship that helped you do that job?

So first and foremost, the most important thing is that after the internship I decided that research is something that I want to be working on after I graduate. That’s huge. So that was my first taste of research that, oh, this is how I also realized research can be, but also how wild it can go. And I happen to like them both. So the feedback and the guidance and all the mentorship I got along the way also boost my confidence in knowing that this is the area that I will be able to learn, grow and thrive back then. That was a huge step for me and I’m constantly reminding myself to maintain that growth mindset that I had when I was an intern. On the practical side of things, the internship was also my first experience building my real research tool kit from the field. Some of the research methodologies became helpful right away, such as drafting, discussion, guide listening, identify patterns and trends, so and so forth. And some of them keep on bringing me these delightful successes and surprises even to today. So, for example, we have done that, Bob, usability research using a remote, unmoderated tool. So recently our team actually brought a similar tool and some of my teammates are like brandnew new to this area where this tool in terms of set up or use cases. And I still remember all those best practices and the guidance you give me three years ago. And now it’s time for me to bring those knowledge back to the team and shine. One thing that I’m still learning and growing in my current job was something I got advice from you, communication and storytelling, for example. Sometimes I feel our job is to take the whole team to the edge of their comfort zone and do a reality check and how to tell that story and feel that empathy with the team without pointing fingers or hurting feelings could be challenging. I got that feedback from you on one of my research project report. I’m better now. I’m way better now. But still, it really takes time and efforts as well as being consciously self-aware about it always. So I do appreciate that you share that piece of feedback with me back then three years ago, which I’m still learning and benefiting from it super.

Do you have any feedback for current students in what to look for in a UX internship?

Of course. So first and foremost, I always look for the right people, your fellow teams, your product, cross-functional partners and most importantly, your mentor or manager. Their support and mentorship will be instrumental to build your first impression towards the real world as a professional. Also, learning from these professionals with real experience is for sure. You’re not getting every day when you are in school. And secondly, look for the right project. Listen for the projects and the ones that you really want to learn and get better with and ask. If you are able to conduct those studies or shadow them, you will be surprised how much you can learn in just one project, at one internship, just as I did.

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