Carnegie Mellon Design League

sahanakumar

Sahana @ Google

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The Funtastic4, my intern family

HEY! I’m Sahana, a soon-to-be senior in CD and HCI. I’ve been spending my summer working at Google in Mountain View as a UX intern on their Social team. I’m from the bay so I’ve been living at home in Palo Alto. I am one of 10 UX interns in Mountain View, which makes it easy to get to know all the other UX-ers from all around the campus. It has been an INCREDIBLE experience working with some of the most amazing people and I am so sad that I have to fly to Pittsburgh at the end of this week (but excited to see all my studio fam).

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Material Design

I joined Google in May, a month before the Google I/O Conference. That means I was able to learn about a bunch of cool Google secrets before their public launch, including the Material Design Language. On my first day I sat down with all the detailed documentation and attempted to understand it. The level of detail and thought put into every decision was so impressive. I knew every team across Google was working to revamp their products so they were unified, intuitive, and Material. But that exemplifies the open environment at Google. Almost any and every product is totally open within the company and interns are welcome to learn all about anything they want.

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My first TGIF (which happens on Thursdays cuz Goog is weird)

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They did make us wear this for one day. It’s more flattering than you’d expect.

My actual project ended up taking my whole summer, and it’s not done yet! I unfortunately can’t talk a ton about it, but I can tell you what I learned from it, and just from my summer:

1. I learned the importance (and fun!) of research. I was able to watch usability studies of users actually using my product, and see in real time where I had succeeded and failed. Made informing my decisions way easier.

2. I learned the importance of asking for feedback. The feedback I received from people helped me improve my work so much faster. I received specific feedback on my work, but also on how I was as a designer in the office, and how to really take advantage of my time at Google.

3. I learned the magic of reaching out. Our intern class was pretty ballsy in asking anyone and everyone for advice. It wasn’t in my nature to talk to people I looked up to, but I soon realized that they loved it. Be ballsy! Reach out! It’ll get you a long way.

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Our buddy Sergey, whatever no biggie.

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Our other buddy, Matias. 

So then there’s the fun part: being at GOOGLE. I and the three other UX interns (we called ourselves the funtastic4) treated the campus like our own personal playground, and took advantage of every opportunity. We reached out to Googlers on other teams and asked to meet with us, and every single time they said yes. I met with people like Matias Duarte, CMU alum Noah Levin, and even had a group meeting with all the UX Interns and Sergey Brin. (It’s a long story, but basically we publically asked him out for coffee at the weekly All-Hands and he said yes.) We got career advice from people who really knew what they were talking about, and they were all genuinely happy to talk with us. I also learned a lot from my fellow interns. They were from all over the world, and I gained life-long friends. Google also does a great job of taking care of their interns. I went on an Intern Prom cruise around the bay, ate my weight in free ice cream, indulged in the BURATTA BAR at work, and genuinely had one of the best summers of my life. 

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Occasionally I wore Glass. It was fun

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 Some food I ate for breakfast

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View from the SF office, which I was allowed to work from whenever I felt like it!

For anyone who is curious about what it’s like to work at a big tech company like Google, definitely hit me up! I’ve had experience now at an agency, and at Google and I think I have good insight into the pros and cons of both. See you all soon!

heymaxbrown

Max @ eBay

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Hey guys, I’m Max, a raising CD senior (damn, that went fast) and this summer I’m working as a User Experience Design Intern at eBay Inc. Here at eBay, I work under eBay Marketplaces (which is ebay.com) on the verticals team. I had never heard of the term Verticals before I came here but my best answer at this point is that it is simply the different sections of ebay.com, so fashion, technology, arts & collectibles, and motors.  image

For most of the summer I have been working in the fashion vertical on an area called Designer Collective. Designer Collective is eBay’s new fashion experience where you can buy direct from designers and brands, it was initially released in June so I am working on the next upcoming releases which is pretty exciting! I am the only designer on the project which has given me a lot of freedom to work how I like and has also given me a lot of ownership over the product. My team is awesome and I have met a bunch of really great people here (both interns and full-time). I am primarily working with other designers, PMs, and developers on my projects.  

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This is my first time working for a large company and it really has been an exciting ride!  It is pretty exciting being in meetings talking with people on the phone who are across the country and even the world!  One of my favorite things about working of eBay is that since it is so large, everything we do can make such a large difference in the world.  It is really exciting to know that what you are working on will be seen by millions of people when it is released.  

One highlight of the summer was the eBay summer intern conference called Power[UP]. In July, eBay brings in all the interns from across the country to San Francisco for a giant conference where interns learn about the company mission, upcoming goals and get to hear company execs talk about their experiences at eBay. I had an amazing time meeting other interns from across the country and learning all about the future of what is in store for eBay. I think one of my favorite parts of the conference was towards the end when Susan Park and I got to take a selfie with RJ Pittman, the Chief Product Officer at eBay.

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I definitely learned a lot this summer about what it means to work for such a large company and how you need to keep yourself on a schedule when other people are relying on you to get your work done. This was probably one of my most fun summers and I would highly suggest trying California out for a summer. Looking forward to the school year though!

 

sushidan

Daniel @ Apple

imageSetting off for San Francisco!
I’m Daniel, a Junior in Communication Design. This week is my last as an intern at Apple.
As you might have heard, Apple is pretty protective about everything. It’s better to err on the side of not writing anything at all, but hey I’ll give it a shot and run this through the manager. Unfortunately, this means no photos of the work scene.

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First, a little bit about Apple. They’re based in Cupertino where they’re rapidly expanding throughout the city. Apple has multiple campuses some distances from each other and they spill over into Sunnyvale, where they placed me for intern corporate housing.

Note: If you get the opportunity to intern in this area, I think it’s worth the trouble to find housing in SF if it’s one of your living considerations for future employment (and if you’re willing to spend more). They give you a monthly stipend but there’s also income tax. Plan ahead!

imageDonut Wheel, Cupertino. A local favorite

It’s a really interesting time to be at Apple and iTunes during the acquisition of Beats, WWDC14, the World Cup, and all the changes that are always going on. The office has a very clear hierarchical structure and everyone checks out at around 5-6pm, so it’s in your best interest to be present when everyone else is, especially as an intern. If you talk to others who interned at Apple, everyone will have different experiences.

I’m on the iTunes Music Design team, which essentially designs the way people see the face of the iTunes music store in collaboration with many of the neighboring teams (editorial, apps, programming, et cetera). Most of what I work on goes live in the store worldwide the next week, so there’s a lot to keep you busy. Besides weekly store promotions, there are a lot of longer term projects ranging from conceptual-themed pages to large-scale promotional pages. iTunes is international, so it’s a great place to get hands-on experience with working at a world-wide scale.

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A couple really cool added perks to being a part of iTunes: we get a few private venue events usually accompanied by live musicians, we get to communicate with musicians (usually indirect of course), the artist themselves and millions of people everywhere will see your work, and you sometimes hear back from the musicians. A few artists you might recognize that I got to work with are Jason Mraz, B1A4 (kpop), Pussn’boots, Hillsong, and Jennifer Hudson. Overall, I learned a lot about the music industry from where I stand in the design spectrum.

The people here make the experience fantastic. I’m surrounded by a rich variety of professionals in graphic design, packaging, illustration, creative directors, et cetera. If I wanted to reach people outside of that realm, they’re never too far. Apple is all about people, so everyone is really open to the idea of getting lunch or coffee to converse or give you feedback on your intern project or connect you to the right people. I got the opportunity to meet a couple of alums here, including a cmu design alum. Everyone here is really passionate in what they do and is usually willing to set aside some time for you.

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That said, it’s Apple and you’re expected to work hard and take matters into your own hands. You have an intern project depending on your manager, and the purpose of that project is to challenge you in utilizing all of the resources you have here. If there’s an editorial portion in your project, for example, you can reach out to the editorial team and get a good sense of what they do and how they work. It’s great because you learn a little bit about what everyone else does and how you can apply that to your project.

If you want free food, go to another tech company. Apple feeds you with opportunities. The interns get their own lecture series, where I saw Jony Ive and Tim Cook speak to us. If you were full time, the only moments you would encounter the high ups would be at Caffe Macs where you’re quietly peering over their shoulder to see what they’re eating. Apple as a company is also super health conscious, so if you don’t mind sacrificing amazingly bad food, hey you’ll fit right in.

littletables

Liana @ Pebble

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Pebble HQ

Howdy! I’m Liana, a rising ID senior working in Palo Alto at Pebble, the smartwatch company. Going into my internship at Pebble, I really didn’t know what to expect. Wearable tech was a recent interest mostly because it seemed like a good bridge for physical as well as digital interaction design. However, I didn’t really know what I would be working on or what a start-up would be like or even what wearable tech exactly meant.

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Design is getting their own space! We’re in the process of moving.

The design team is actually pretty big if you include the four interns and consider the size of the company as a whole (we just broke over 100 employees this summer). Since most everything is done in-house, we design the interface on the watch and every physical part as well, so a lot of work is being done in completely different forms. I came to Pebble with the official title of UX/UI intern, but much of what I do surpasses that role. I’ve worn many hats this summer, from working on animations to package design to branding to product photography (including some hand modeling) to even a little bit of ID work.

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First week on the job, call me David Duchovny.

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We eat lunch outside almost every day.

Being at a start-up, I’d say the most challenging part this summer was to be mostly self-driven. I’m given a problem to solve and am expected to have progress for the next time we meet as a team, but much of it is very open-ended. I’ve been asked what a typical day is like at Pebble, but I can’t really say. I come in at different times in the morning and there are days when I leave the office pretty late. Sometimes I work at my desk alone for hours and other times I sit at a table with the rest of the design interns and we collaborate and work together all day. The freedom of a start-up is stressful but also exciting. Because we’re a relatively small company, a lot goes on and I’m jumping from project to project frequently, but I’ve been enjoying working on UX while working closely with the ID team.

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Occupying one of the conference rooms for the World Cup.

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Chris says hi.

It’s been interesting getting different perspectives on design. Working with a recent CMU ID alum and an ID student from University of Cincinnati has changed the way I look at my work and how I want to continue into my last year as a senior. It’s been eye opening but also a little frightening to realize how much I don’t know about design and how much more I need to progress. A lot of the most valuable things I learned this summer was from branching out to other people from different disciplines to see how they work and think. It’s hard to step outside of the CMU mindset and to be completely self-critical of your own work in comparison to everything else that’s out there without being swallowed in the so-called bubble we live in.

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The Pebble house, in a quiet neighborhood next to a park.

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Casual Oculus Rifting at the house.

I’ve gotten really close to a lot of people here, mostly because I live in what we call the Pebble Pad, aka the intern house. Living in Palo Alto has been pretty interesting. Everything is so bright and well manicured and warm and there’s never any clouds in the sky, quintessentially the Anti-Pittsburgh. Being the only female intern living in a house with 8-10 other guys has been surprisingly fun, as we’ve grown a little family. We cook together, walk/bike to work together, watch movies, blast Beyonce songs, and I bake them treats every so often if I’m feeling nice (complete with the meyer lemon tree in our backyard). The amount of inside jokes we have are obscene, and I’m really going to miss my strange but wonderful jumble of housemates when I leave. 

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Pebbles on Pebbles (literally)

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Obligatory intern BBQ picture.

Working here surpassed everything I expected, and it’s strange that I’m leaving so soon. It was an eye opening experience and, in the words of a certain group of alums, I learned a lot. We’re a rapidly growing company, but everyone is accessible and incredibly friendly and diverse. Free food and swag aside (a pretty popular topic amongst these blog posts), I’m glad I had the opportunity to work here and can’t wait to see where the company is headed in the future.

jshen1design

Jessica @ Rhiza & Scrollmo

Hi! I’m Jessica, a half industrial design, half CS major in the BXA program.

This summer I’m interning at Rhiza, Inc., an analytics company, and at Scrollmo, a mobile interactive marketing startup, both in Pittsburgh.

Working at two different companies has given me a really interesting experience—while both are small companies, Rhiza is a team of around 30 people, while Scrollmo was a team of three (including me) when I first started.

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Back in June, it was me + a just-graduated senior from Tepper/CS + the CEO, a CMU alum in NYC. While they had the general system working, they wanted to work on an analytics platform for clients, which is what I worked on for the summer. It was difficult at first, because I was pretty much left on my own to build a working analytics dashboard and we only met up a couple times a week. Over time, the company grew a a bit, with more people getting on board from around the US (we did a lot of Skyping) and I ended up with working mostly on front end development and Design.

One thing that’s awkward with working with remote people: it’s hard to communicate so there were quite a few mixups. Derp.

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On the other hand, Rhiza is a ~30 person company. There’s a lot more structure and it feels more like I’m working with a group. Every morning we have a meeting with everyone to catch up on what people are up to. It’s a great way to meet everyone and learn what the company is doing.

We then head out to wherever we need to be (the design cave as we call it), but everyone is always connected to everyone else through chatrooms, so there’s a lot of back and forth that generates a lot of ideas (as well as random memes and food discussions). I got to learn a lot about how other teams work and got a really good understanding of the system we were all working on. While the company has been around for a couple years, design is still relatively new for it. I got to see the current designers implement steps toward the mysterious “new UI world” that Rhiza is working towards.

Although I couldn’t always hang out with the Rhizans (the woes of being underage), it was cool being part of the quirky culture at Rhiza. I had a lot of fun with Grubhub mondays, Whole foods trips, and their group obsession with kind bars.

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Rhiza bot! and the random things people leave around the place.

The working environments are completely different: While Rhiza is a more traditional office setting, Scrollmo’s office was part of a coworking space called The Beauty Shoppe. Coworking is basically where a bunch of freelancers, writers, tiny startups, etc. share an office space. Everyone can either get a desk or just wander around and work in the lounges, conference rooms, or pods. A lot of startups do this because it’s cheap and then move out to bigger workspaces when more people join. 

(Fun fact: This is where Deep Local started!)

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Free baked goods are the best

It’s really interesting to see how a bunch of different people operate: some people are on phone calls all day, others are plugged in and typing the whole time. While we share the same space, everyone is doing something different. It actually feels a bit like a studio: I just don’t know everyone.

Both companies are in the East side/shadyside area (around BRGR/Noodlehead-ish). It’s a great place to explore and eat things. With Google a few blocks away, the area is really starting to develop a bit of a tech industry. Being in Pittsburgh over the summer has made me like it a lot more: I got to go to the three rivers festival, try a bunch of restaurants, see a movie in the park, and do so many things that I have the time to do during the school year.

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Intern life in Pittsburgh is probably a lot different just because it’s so familiar: I have friends taking classes, doing research, and interning but it still feels like CMU. However, I’ve still met quite a few new people. There isn’t a huge intern community, but I got to meet a lot of CMU alums and see what they’re doing. Because the tech community is relatively small, everyone seems to know everyone.

I didn’t really get as much of a design experience as I had expected: at both Rhiza and Scrollmo, I mostly ended up working on front-end development rather than designing. However, I got the chance to see and help two companies grow in different stages: Scrollmo from the ground up, and Rhiza from an implemented system getting a makeover, which turned out to be really valuable.

It was definitely confusing to be working for both at the same time, but the two internships actually complemented each other really well. Working at small companies was really cool because I got to see the work that I did get implemented.

faceworldproblems
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
Hack Square, during the 2014 Intern Summerfest.
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
Dinner at Cafe Epic, one of two main cafes at FB. The weather's so great that we eat outside for almost every meal.
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
Corporate housing's pretty nice.
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
I worked on the core product for iPad, so I had too many Apple devices this entire summer.
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
the Design Studio!
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
Free screenprinting classes!
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
the arcade room, where DDR is always the best option
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
intern outing at Santa Cruz beach boardwalk
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
photos team offsite - cooking paella!
Vivian @ Facebook
I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 
The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.
Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.
That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 
Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 
FB interns at SF Pride!

Vivian @ Facebook

I’m Vivian, a rising senior in CD, and this summer, I’m working as a product designer at Facebook. While Josie already wrote about her experiences at the New York office, I’ll be talking about working at Facebook HQ, in Menlo Park (MPK). 

The biggest benefit from working at MPK is the people. Most of Facebook’s designers work out of this office, and just being able to talk to them and ask them for feedback inherently makes your work a lot better. Having the people who built the prototyping tools you’re using at a daily basis just a short stroll away is nothing short of amazing - and people are always willing to help you out or point you to someone who can help you if you’re having issues using any of the tools. The other interns are also a huge benefit - you’re never without friends to eat with at the many places on campus, and you always have at least the interns to get opinions on your work from.

Facebook is my first “big tech company,” and my first experience building things to ship on a deadline. I work on photos in the core product, and sit in proximity with my team, which consists of my mentor, the engineer who’s building my designs (who’s also an intern, which is awesome), his mentor, and our PM. There are teams within teams within orgs within products, and labels can be pretty confusing at times, because at Facebook, there is an incredibly flat organizational structure. Sure, you have a “manager” but they serve more as your mentor and guidance figure. You are your own boss at Facebook, and you’re expected to manage yourself and your time in whatever way you want in order to ship the best possible product. The upside of that is that Facebook is still able to move relatively fast, and individuals have the agency they need to build great things. The cost of this is feeling like you’re working in structured chaos most of the time - you spend a lot of your time as a designer tracking down people who made design decisions that affect your project. Context is key, whether it’s a school project or a work project, but the people who have the context that you need might have left already, or might work in another building or another office, and it’s only by talking to others can you find out the information that you need.

That being said, I feel empowered to really affect change even as an intern. My engineer and I are the only ones working full-time on our project, and I feel like I really own my work as I haven’t before. Like Josie has previously mentioned, Facebook does everything it can to help you succeed, but it also pushes you to take control of your internship. Your mentor and recruiter work closely with you to define goals, and then achieve them by summer’s end. Part of this is some hand-holding in the beginning, but a lot of it is just being thrown into projects headfirst and working at full blast right away. There is no “intern project” because here, they trust you to do real work. 

Of course, it’s not always work. Actually, you might even say we have too much fun here at Facebook. We have intern trips out to places like Muir Woods, Cal Academy of Sciences, Giants games, and Santa Cruz. I marched in the SF Pride parade for the first time - or more accurately, danced down Market St behind a giant Facebook float and screamed myself hoarse. My larger team, the Photos team, had an offsite one day where we learned how to cook paella and then eat it. I even got to work at the NYC office for a week, and while I was there, the design interns and their managers had an offsite where we got drinks and played shuffleboard, which was a great way to relax, have fun, and reconnect with the NYC interns. I spend most of non-working time on the MPK campus with Abby, grabbing lunch at Fuki Sushi or Harvest (we have nine places on campus to eat for lunch, it’s great), or getting coffee at Philz - and then getting dessert at the Sweet Stop. There’s the Analog Lab, where you can screen print posters and learn brush lettering. There’s a woodshop, where you learn how to cut pens from wood. We have an arcade room in case you need more distraction, a gym with rock climbing, and campus bikes in case you need to get from one building to another faster than your feet can take you. Facebook really takes care of you, so that you can focus your energy on producing great work. You’ll definitely need that energy, because the problems here are as complex as they come, but hey: work hard, play harder. 

genulum

Gene @ Palantir

Hey! I’m Gene, a junior ID & HCI student. I’m currently seven weeks into being a product design intern at Palantir Technologies. So far, it’s been a blast.

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A lot of people (myself included basically until I started) have trouble figuring out what Palantir does, which is understandable – the company makes data analysis software for governments and large businesses, something the average consumer isn’t necessarily concerned with. In a nutshell, Palantir makes a suite of data analysis applications: geospatial “Google Maps” tools to locate and plot data on a map, web-diagram-like graphs to visualize money flow for fraud prevention, or Excel-on-steroids advanced spreadsheet software. Think of Palantir being to data analysts, what Adobe is to creative professionals.

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Much of my time is spent in the design lab, a spacious office with lots of natural light. Palantir spreads itself throughout multiple buildings downtown Palo Alto, and the result is a refreshing lack of ‘campus’-ness that accompanies some of the bigger tech companies in town, although this seems to be something of an uphill battle to maintain as the company gets bigger and needs more space. In the meantime, we enjoy the benefits of a medium-sized company (good in-house food, strong internal support infrastructure) but remain integrated with some semblance of the real world.

The design presence at Palantir definitely benefits from the growth the company has been seeing. I’ve been told that designers have doubled in number since last summer, and even though the team is fairly new, (2-3 years) product design is generally treated as a parallel to engineering rather than a nicety further down the pipeline. The team is still growing, and being able to be part of the company at this time and shape what design might be like in the future is a very exciting prospect.

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In my case, I work on a product called Case Management, something initially used only at the Los Angeles Police Department to help them track criminal investigations. Palantir is currently moving away from an application tailored specifically to LAPD to a product that can be applied to a range of other agencies that manage investigative cases. Essentially, the product is starting from scratch – and for five weeks, I was the only designer on this product, given the trust to make overarching design decisions that would define how the product worked, how it looked, and how effective it would be to use.

For a while, I floundered a bit in existential crisis at the intimidating task, but with plenty of guidance from a quality mentor (“You’re out of your comfort zone? Good, I’d be worried if you weren’t”), I received an excellent field-learning crash course in interaction & visual design, in communicating effectively with engineers, and in regularly presenting my work and articulating design decisions.

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There are a couple other things I appreciate about interning here, besides the work I’m doing. Design is constantly discussed informally (the broad sweeping field in general, or just in the form of links to pretty websites) – everyone is passionate about what they do and the growth of one another as designers, even outside of specific projects. On a company-wide level, Palantir’s work by nature is applied to issues with real gravity to them (cyber-security, disease control, criminal justice), meaning that there’s a kind of mission-driven culture that I believe to be increasingly rare in the Silicon Valley. There’s a motivation in knowing that the work we do affects people in very tangible ways.

The three weeks I have left will be devoted to cracking down on the nitty-gritty of one of Case Management’s core functions, working closely with the front-end developers and the new designer put on the project to bring what is currently diagrams and screen mockups to a living, usable application. The time will also be devoted to consuming large quantities of the steady supply of green tea Pocky.

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If you’ve got any more questions about design at Palantir, or the company in general, feel free to shoot me a note at genehua@cmu.edu.

exuberantzest

Zhuoshi @ Facebook NY

This summer I’m a Product Design Intern at Facebook, and I have a pretty unorthodox FB internship experience: I am based in the NYC office (instead of at Facebook’s headquarters), I work on something that’s not part of the core Facebook product, and I worked out of the London office for part of the summer.

I think I got a pretty sweet deal.

Facebook flew me out to Menlo Park for the first two weeks for design bootcamp, and then flew me out to London again in the beginning of July because our whole team decided to work from that office. So I’ve had quite a bit of traveling with this internship.

The best part about being in the NYC office is being in the city. Whereas the Menlo Park campus is filled with cafes and restaurants and fun and games, the FBNY office is sort of like a shelter from the hustle and bustle of the city. In Menlo Park, teams don’t really go “out” for lunch or dinner. They go to one of the many food places on campus. But here, it feels like we have lunches and dinners and drinks every week—out in all the best locations in New York.

I got a similar feeling from the London office, too. The office itself is a lot shinier and nicer, though, as seems to be the case with everything in London. For the two weeks, our team stayed in a war room, which is a conference room set up with desks and monitors so visiting people can have a place to sit and so the team can all be in the same location.

My team moves pretty fast in working, especially because we’re not part of the core Facebook product. We actually just pushed something out last week for internal dogfooding (meaning for other Facebook employees to use and test and give feedback) and it was really interesting to see the kind of feedback people gave, and to be part of the process of refining our work based on that feedback. I’ve never had that experience previously because nothing that I’ve worked on during an internship has been launched before the internship ended, and it’s definitely not the kind of thing that class projects allow you to experience either.

My favorite thing about working at Facebook is that they really support your growth as a designer. In the words of my roommate, they ‘do everything to help you succeed.’ Nowhere else have I experienced this kind of trust and support—they let you present your work to stakeholders, they trust your design judgment when a decision needs to be made, and they let you work on important projects that get released. In addition to all that, they give you valuable feedback as you go, not just on your design work, but on how you can be a better designer.

Something that’s been really valuable to me during this internship is all the high-level product discussions that I get to participate in. It’s difficult, and different, to think about design in terms of product strategy and it’s really helpful to hear all the intelligent opinions and perspectives everyone has. People really get worked up about these decisions sometimes.

I knew before coming to Facebook that they had a number of exceptional designers. I can now sort of see how they got there—the company definitely not only spawns and grows great products, but also fosters the growth of people. Over the past summers I slowly realized the importance of a good mentor, and it’s really amazing seeing how my mentor/manager this summer helps me become a better designer (oh, and he’s a CMU alum!). It’s not just him, either. I get an indirect sense of what his manager is like because we have a lot of crits and discussions together, and it confirms the fact that Facebook cultivates people. Good mentors and good designers.

sahanakumar

Sahana @ Sequence

Hi design peeps,

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Here’s Sequence’s SF office.

I’m Sahana Kumar. I’m a rising junior in Communication Design. I am the Visual Design Intern at Sequence, an awesome design firm in Potrero hill in San Francisco.  It is relatively small with two offices in NYC and SF. I am lucky enough to be their second intern ever in their SF office!

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I’m immortalized on their wall! That’s me, bottom left corner.

My internship is actually almost over, but I’ve had an amazing time. Sequence’s approach to design is called “Experience Design”. They aim to take a brand beyond the traditional identity and into an immersive experience that is consistent across many mediums. They work very hard at this and are great at what they do. Because of this, they have a ton of impressive clients, like Chipotle, Peets, LeapMotion, Food Network and Apple to name a few.

Being an intern here has been invaluable. I’ve been on a variety of projects, and have been responsible for tiny parts of a project or client presentations. They’ve treated me like a designer and taken me seriously and I really appreciate that. I’ve learned a lot about working with clients in mind, and about the design process. This has been interesting because I can compare it to how I would work at school.

One thing that we’ve been doing a lot of at CMU is working on collaboration and group projects. This has been a bit tough for me to get used to, because it is always less complicated to take on a project solo. However as I am learning, that is not how the real world works, and working in a team is a skill that will get you far. At Sequence, a designer or two will be grouped with a copywriter, sometimes a strategist or motion designer or UX designer, and topped off with a project manager. Each person is responsible for a part of the final product, and they brainstorm and consult each other every step of the way. Brainstorming is huge here. I’ve been invited to brainstorms from other groups so they can get fresh opinions, and held sessions for my own projects. I really like working on a team now. The end product feels comprehensive in every aspect because of all the different people who have worked on it and contributed their own expertise.

I’ve worked on a few projects that are confidential, but one of the ones that I can talk about was for Chipotle. I was approached by the New York office to help design some icons for their 20th anniversary Adventurrito contest. It was my first time designing icons and I learned a lot. Apart from that, I’ve worked on projects for lots of other clients too. I collect assets, create mockups, and work on presentations. I’ve had a great experience working with the various clients and all the different people on each team.

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Here’s Adventurrito! 

Sequence is also great because of the culture. Everyone is so open and willing to chat. My internship program included regularly scheduled informative interviews with the different types of people in the office. I got to sit down with Strategists, Project Managers, and Copywriters for half an hour and learn about what they do at Sequence, and how they got there. It’s interesting to get to know people I may not otherwise work directly with.

We’ve done some things all together, like an office outing to a Giants Game, and a creative offsite, which was easily my favorite day of my entire internship. We all gathered at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio and discussed how Sequence can improve, but also did some really goofy and fun activities. One of these was a Create-Thon which involved us having 30 minutes to come up with a product for a random and goofy audience, technology, and service drawn out of a hat. My group won third place :) and I proudly wore my plastic bronze medal for the rest of the night (which involved an outing to an awesome gastropub, the Tipsy Pig). 

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The creative team at the Tipsy Pig after our Offsite. Creds to Cindy Tsui

Our 8th Anniversary Party was the day before I left and it was a great way to finish off my internship. All of our clients showed up, and other designers in the area. On my last day, they threw me a goodbye party complete with boxes full of Chipotle burritos. I can’t believe that two and a half months have flown by so fast. I’ll miss them a lot.

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Snippets of the food from the goodbye party. Yummy.

Well that’s it! If you have any questions feel free to ask me. I’ll be off to Switzerland in a week to study for a semester in St. Gallen, so see you guys in January! 

joshnewb

Josh @ Sennheiser

'Twas an exciting day for me at Sennheiser. Our much anticipated Form Labs Stereolithography Printer arrived. Really sweet piece of equipment. We backed the project on kickstarter and finally got it and unboxed it today. Can't wait to get it setup next week and try it out!

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Expect some 3D partporn in the next couple weeks!

As promised: Here are the first parts printed in clear acrylic. I let it run overnight so I’m not sure how long the job took. The machine runs really nicely, the beam of UV light is steered around a bath of uncured arcrylic by articulating mirrors instead of moving along x y and z axis with stepping motors, so its absolutely silent. Its hard to tell because of all the support structure, but the 0.05mm resolution is fantastic. The parts took an hour of xacto and sandpaper work.