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Sara Cunningham
Sara Cunningham

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Week 4: Two Internships at Once!??!


This week has been pretty hectic since I started another internship role. I decided to take on two internships at the same time, which has been very time-consuming. Luckily, my boss at HAX has been sympathetic and understanding. I told him about the situation, and he has been very flexible with my workload and hours.

I do want to share what I am doing in my other internship and will not make a separate series for it, but include it in the weekly updates.

My New Internship

Due to the coronavirus, a lot of internships have come to a halt. Fortunately, I found two fantastic remote opportunities that will provide me with insightful experience. I am taking on this second internship for Valley Bank as a digital product intern. I will be working with stakeholders, internally and externally, to help understand the audience and personas. Additionally, I will be assisting with UX/UI research through interviews and prototype testing.

The first couple of days were pretty generic. I introduced myself to the team and learned a little bit more about the company. Next, I spectated in a lot of meetings to learn about the products they are working on. One meeting that I found interesting was regarding customer insights. We performed a brainstorming exercise to discover other incentives behind the users. We used a website called Miro, a collaborative tool to create idea boards, user journeys, mapping, or anything you desire.

What Miro looks like:
Alt Text

When I am not in meetings, I usually go over presentations about their digital products. Going through them is informative since I am not familiar with banking terms and their services/products. Another task I have done is on a website called User Testing that lets real users test your product. I never heard of the site before, but many big corporations like Facebook, Capital One, eBay, and Walmart use it. If you are unfamiliar with the website, I recommend checking it out because it has some pretty neat features. After users test the product, I watch their videos of them using the website and offer comments regarding what the user says and their experience.

One challenge I have had is thinking like the user. When examining a product, I have my thoughts on how a product/service operates, what it does, what it should do, how it should look, etc. Although those are my thoughts and could be valid, it's not how all users think. It's easy to relate to the user with your own experiences, but if you can't connect to them, it's challenging to assume what they're going through and, more importantly, how to fix their problem. User experience requires a lot of research to fully understand a user's habits, thoughts, and motives.

Wrapping up my first week, I met a lot of amazing people and learned a lot, especially about UX/UI. Throughout this internship, I am eager to work with various teams to see what I enjoy doing and hopefully get a better perception of what I want to pursue in the future. I believe I will be starting a project next week, so I will let you know how that goes!

My Work with HAX

Taking two internships at once is a lot, but I am trying to do the best I can to give them both my all. This week, I did have to take a step back from HAX, but I did work on user personas. We had a meeting in which we brainstormed several users who would use HAX. During the call, we made a Google Sheet with different personas and their goals, needs, priority, etc. In that meeting, I thought it was beneficial, so I decided to continue working on my own. I added on to what we already made and included more categories to create a more detailed persona. I began filling it out and found that the student persona was natural for me to complete since I can relate to that persona. For other personas like a designer, developer, or power user was more complicated. Although I could have researched information, I decided to send the Google Doc to the team since they might better understand those personas. I feel like direct responses from people who identify as those personas will deliver a more accurate representation.

Example of a user persona:
Alt Text

For more information about my work with HAX and this project, I will be writing a more in-depth post in the UX/UI: Menu Fix series.


Both internships are unique in their way and have their pros and cons for both. I think working in a smaller organization and a larger company will give me more useful insights into the type of company I want to join. Also, the roles are very different. My work with Valley Bank is more business-focused, and my role with HAX as a junior developer is more technical. Although they are different, I do notice some overlap, especially with all of the UX/UI work I am doing for both.

Overall, I am thankful to have these two experiences to grow from and expand my skillset. As I learn, face challenges, and develop my career, I hope to share it through this series.

Top comments (4)

btopro profile image
Bryan Ollendyke

Sara, the biggest truth in here is what I can never teach people and it's often what separates success from complacency in our industry: "I thought it was beneficial, so I decided to continue working on my own". I have been extremely impressed with your drive and passion for the UX work on HAX and helping push our project toward higher quality through the process you are engaging in. Keep finding things throughout life you can improve and you'll go far and organizations will be better off having you.

kewbish profile image
Emilie Ma

Super cool! Do you have any advice for finding internship opportunities?

btopro profile image
Bryan Ollendyke

Getting your name out there in issue queues, there a tons of open source projects that would love to have your contributions! Making an adhoc internship either through Google summer of code or taking 2 weeks in the summer / weekends to contribute to open source are great ways to demonstrate openness to learn new things, while learning new things, while contributing to bigger efforts

saracunn profile image
Sara Cunningham

Thanks so much! I found my internships through my school which I recommend since it worked out for me and they have a bunch of great resources and connections with companies. If you don't have access to those resources then maybe reach out to friends to see if they know of anything or visit job boards like searching through google, Linkedin, Glassdoor, etc. It's definitely a long process but just keep searching and applying!

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