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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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!
'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!
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.
I’m Josh Newby, a soon-to-be Senior in Industrial Design at Carnegie Mellon. I’ve spent my summer working at The Sennheiser Innovation and Technology lab in San Francisco.
The Innovation and Tech office is a branch of the German company, Sennheiser Co. We’re made up of myself, and 12 engineers. Our workplace is a quiet, but spacious office in Portrero Hill, between a super-delicious coffee truck, and a hella-bueno taco place. I get my bean water from the coffee truck every morning and my bean blankets from the taco place for lunch.
I commute to and from San Francisco by Caltrain, its about 45 minutes in each direction. It was cool at first, but tacking on about 2 hours to each work day gets old quickly. Fortunately Caltrain has an open container policy that I have been happily exercising on my way home.
The Sennheiser Innovation and Tech lab is responsible for pushing the envelope of audio technology. Nothing we work on here is consumer-level. We are tasked with pursuing new technologies in audio perfection. The projects we work on are probably 5-10 years ahead of any existing products, and a large portion of what we do is aimed at research, or professional grade applications. Some technologies developed here find their way onto shelves, but usually quite a few years down the line. Needless to say I can’t talk specifically about the project I was given, but let your imagination wander when I say: the projects here are REALLY FUCKING COOL.
The reason I found myself in a Tech office with 12 engineers is because a few months ago a couple of them had an idea for a project that required extensive mechanical design, prototyping, and human factors considerations. They’re all electrical and audio engineering nerds, and they wanted someone more mechanically inclined to design and develop the idea.
Here’s a couple parts I made that won’t give away too much :P
On my first day, I was invited into the conference room where Sebastian, my project manager, explained in about 5 minutes the idea they had conceived. After 5 minutes, and a couple slides showing some data they had collected, he basically said: “Go do it. Try to have it done by the end of your internship.”
That project is what I have been working on for 7 weeks now, with a few breaks to listen to dank tunage in the listening room. It’s extremely rewarding to completely own a project of this magnitude from start to finish. I have made some really exciting progress on it, and I’ve impressed the shit out of myself with how much I’ve learned and created in just a short time.
If all goes according to plan, my project will be taken to Germany and presented at the Innovation summit, in the Fall. I feel tremendously accomplished knowing that I am actually developing a technology that hasn’t been explored before.
I wish I could tell yins more, but in the mean time, check out our listening room.I listened to a couple of my all time favorite albums in here and it was like hearing music for the first time. I literally shed a tear listing to Port of Morrow.
My name is Zhuoshi and I’m a rising Communication Design junior. This summer, as my fourth internship, I’m working at Evernote, a medium-sized software company with eight products (including Skitch and Penultimate), nine offices across the globe, and 300+ employees. I’m working at its headquarters in the San Francisco bay area.
Hey everyone, my name is Scott and I’m going to be a Industrial Design senior in a little more than a month! This summer you can find me in San Francisco as an Experience Designer at a company called Fluid.
Fluid is digital design agency that has been around since 1998. They’re still relatively small, about 120 employees across 3 offices including Chicago and New York. Fluid works with clients to design anything that lives behind a screen, but they also design and develop their own digital products which they can then license to other companies. Fluid has been a leader in the eCommerce business and is responsible for shaping many aspects of the online shopping experience. They have recently completed projects with The North Face, Levi’s, and Google.
I’m currently working on Fluid’s first ever pro-bono project redesigning a website for a non-profit organization in Somalia called Abaarso School of Science and Technology. They are an outstanding college preparatory school who recently graduated their first class! Despite their incredible success, they need more teachers, donations, and publicity in order to continue the work they do. I happened to join Fluid right as the project began so I was lucky enough to work closely with the Strategy team to conduct research, create content, and other front end development. I am currently working with the Experience Design team and the Visual Design team to actually develop the website for launch by the end of this month. Later on we get to work with videographers in Somalia to storyboard videos for the website. It’s all super exciting stuff and we, of course, work closely with the founder of Abaarso to make sure that the work we do is on par with what the school needs.
I guess I didn’t really know what to expect but despite the fact that my title includes the word “intern” I have been given a great deal of input on these projects. My opinions and research are valued and considered, my work is presented to clients, it must be of a certain standard, and it’s used to move the project forward. This can be intimidating to know that you have solid deadlines, that you’re doing work you’ve never done before, and that people are counting on you to do well. But, I am fortunate enough to have my team sitting all around me, all of them incredibly helpful and friendly and by the end of the first week, I felt I had a solid handle on things.
All this being said, my daily routine includes waking up at 7 and commuting to work via bus for an hour every morning. When I get to the office (after a delicious morning espresso of course) my day typically includes team meetings, brainstorming sessions, sketching, wire framing, writing, or research. I’m working with an intern in New York on project for the Product team so I will often call in to collaborate with her via Google Hangout.
The office environment is super relaxed and it’s the type of environment you come to expect from a design firm. We have social events a couple times a week, people bring in their dogs, we host small parties, we drink, we go to lunch, etc. Everyone in the office has been incredibly personable and they’re as tight as any of our studios. Of course, San Francisco itself is awesome. Amazing food, cool stores, beautiful parks, concerts, museums, lots of design firms to visit. It’s a vibrant city but it never feels overwhelming or congested. It’s also incredibly bike friendly and navigable (so bring one if you can).
So, despite the fact that I study Industrial Design, there is a lot of overlap between the disciplines. Most of what I have learned studying ID directly applies to UX. I have found that UX design is not more or less interesting than ID, it’s simply different, and it’s a field which I have really come to appreciate.
There are also unlimited raw almonds in the kitchen, which is a HUGE deal. I consider that free healthcare.
Oh heeeeeey fellow designerds! Fancy seeing you here.
My name is Maggie and I’m going to be a senior (eek.) in Communication Design & Human-Computer Interaction NEXT MONTH. WHAT. Well, now that I’ve officially terrified myself, I thought I’d pipe in about what I’m up to this summer and how it’s going.
I’m working at this tiny little company that you’ve probably never heard of called Apple. I work on the iTunes Apps Design team on a website called iTunes Connect. It’s what distributors and developers use to sell their content on iTunes and the App store. While I can’t say much of anything about my projects because, well, it’s Apple, I would love to speak to some of the things I’ve been enjoying.
The first thing is something I learned from CMU. As part of my job, I’ve had to meet and discuss products with engineers. There were discussions about load time, efficiency, and other fancy engineering technical speak. But the really great part? Because of my experience working with engineers at school, and really because of my computer science related coursework, I actually understood a good half of what they were saying. I actually was able to contribute to these conversations without feeling like that lowly intern that has no idea what she’s talking about. And it was awesome.
tldr; go take a computer science class.
Thus far, I’m enjoying the ride! Next time, I’ll try and talk about how this summer is a major contrast to last summer with the internship I had, where I lived, and the environment I worked in. :)
In the coming weeks, as we have done previous years, students from the School of Design will be posting about their summer internships here. Dozens of design students from CMU are interning at a range of companies as diverse as Apple, Cooper, Facebook, Google, IBM, Landor Associates, Microsoft, Ogilvy & Mather, R/GA, and Sennheiser, and will be reflecting on their experiences here in words and images