Hey everyone! My name is Maayan, and this summer I worked at frog, a global design and strategy firm. frog, styled without a capital ‘f,’ started out as an industrial design firm and helped apple create some of its earliest products. Now, it does all kinds of work, from brand strategy, to digital UX design, to traditional industrial design, to anything in between.
During my time at frog, I worked on two client projects (which I can’t say too much about) and an intern project with three other friedol-interns (the friedolin is frog’s unofficial mascot). Needless to say, I had a blast. frog is a special place filled with extraordinary people. But I also learned a lot. Here are some of the most important lessons from my summer.
Embrace The Uncertainty
The frog SF office is made up of two parts. The client lobby, a welcome area surrounded by meeting rooms, and the studio, where most of frog’s projects are made.
Like most newcomers, when I first stepped into the studio, I entered through the client side. I was already nervous. This was my first big internship, and at a firm like frog, I didn’t want to mess up.
In the early hours of the morning, the pristine lobby felt large, dark, and empty. I waited nervously for a few minutes until our front desk administrator, Genna, came to show me around. She gave me a quick tour of the lobby, and then swiped me into the studio. To my surprise, I was met with messy desks, nerf guns, boards upon boards of post it note,. The studio wasn’t sterile and immaculate like the lobby, but it was a clear reflection of frog’s work.
This revealed a lot to me about frog’s scrappy nature. Just because the final deliverables on the website look polished and clean doesn’t mean that the process to get there was. Unlike some other firms, frog lacks a dedicated process. This means that frogs (as members of the firm are lovingly called) create a unique roadmap for each new project.
As a newcomer, this can be intimidating. Taking on a project and not knowing how you’re going to solve it is stressful. However, the design process is messy, and the clearest route to an answer is rarely the best. I think that Mark Twain summarized this well when he said:
“For every problem there is always a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong.”
frog isn’t looking for the simple and obvious solutions, its looking for the difficult and accurate ones. Sometimes, this means getting your hands dirty.
In addition to teaching me how to work within frog’s own culture, this experience has given me the confidence to take on projects before knowing exactly how I’m going to pull them off. In school, I would often panic if I wasn’t sure how my partners or I would get from point A to point B. However, now that I’ve seen that even the pros make it up as they go along, I’ll feel more comfortable pushing the boundaries of my own comfort zone.
Learn From Others
At frog, I had the good fortune of working with extraordinary designers, technologists, strategists, and program managers. Everyone comes from a unique background and has interesting stories to tell. However, I think that the most defining attribute of a frog is a willingness to learn from those around you.
During the first few weeks of my internship, frog was in talks with a huge tech company to take on a very cool project. I was excited about the possibility of working with this client, so I asked our Director of Business Development, Chris Garrity, if I could sit in on a pitch.
What I didn’t realize was that usually only the most senior members of frog participate BD meetings. When I arrived, I found myself in a room with frog’s VP of strategy, lead technologist, and several creative directors. Fortunately, the meeting went off without a hitch. The next day day, I talked to Chris about how it went. At the end of the conversation, he asked me, in all earnestness, if there was anything that I thought they had missed. I was floored. Asking an intern, on her second week, about pitching to one of the largest tech companies in the world? Despite my surprise, I quickly learned that this mindset is integral to frog’s culture.
In the following weeks, I lead workshops, participated in client meetings, and even rapped to Hamilton in front of the entire studio. Throughout all of this, I was encouraged to share my own perspective. As a result, I started doing the same for others. I would ask for advice on wireframe flows, gather ideas from a brainstorming session, or go out into the field and conduct user interviews. At the end of my experiences, I left knowing that everyone has something unique to bring to the table and should be treated as such.
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to join the frog family. They’re a close knit bunch and welcomed me with open arms. I made incredible friends, worked with interesting clients, and did exciting projects.
I’m looking forward to taking the lessons that I’ve learned and putting it towards my remaining years at Carnegie Mellon. frogs are fearless, endlessly curious, and talented collaborators. After spending time with them, I’ve learned to embrace the uncertainty of not only class projects but my own future. In addition, I’ve become more open and willing to learn from those around me, whether they be classmates, teachers, parents, mentors, or even strangers.