How did you find your internship?
I found my internship through LinkedIn. A friend of mine shared the ZTech post and I saw an open designer position. I emailed the CEO with my resume as well as a brief description of why I was interested in helping ZTech as a designer. AngelList is also great for finding unique internships.
Describe the work you have done as an intern.
I worked at ZTech as a UI/UX designer and user researcher. I conducted research on user behavior, thoughts, and opinions about their experiences with various products, services, and interactions. I identified how we can accurately and creatively address user needs. I would use brainstorming and ideation sessions, empathy maps, experience timelines, and other design tools to synthesize information from interviews. I communicated my findings to help ZTech make actionable and data-driven decisions.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience so far?
The most rewarding aspect was applying what I learned from UT design courses while adopting new practices through my internship. This was my first internship and I worked in a startup tech consultancy. It was a very new and fast-paced environment, but previous design projects demonstrated how design thinking, integrative design, and other design principles are relevant in many contexts. By directly utilizing these concepts, I understood how to fulfill my role and collaborate with other teams.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
I was initially focused on integrating design into my psychology background and becoming more of a generalist in design without any specialization. After this Connecting Experience, I have gained confidence as a UI/UX designer and user researcher, and would like to pursue opportunities that incorporate psychology in my design work. I am still passionate about earning a doctorates degree for psychomusicology and music cognition research. However, I am also now considering UI/UX design and user research career paths within a design and innovation consultancy (e.g., IBM, Smart Design, IDEO).
Discuss the relationship that you had with your faculty mentor(s) and how (s)he helped you during this Connecting Experience.
My faculty mentors, Gray Garmon and Joe Meersman, were phenomenal! They helped me grow as a student, designer, and young professional. I completed weekly meetings and journal entries that required critical thinking and creativity to reflect on the meaning behind my work. I have gained valuable perspectives by reaching out to them when I was confused about my next steps, needed professional feedback, or wanted to plan for future opportunities as a designer (e.g., portfolio development).