What I Learned From A Tour at Google

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In my HCDE (Human Centered Design and Engineering) Capstone class, we had a mini introduction of everyone, sharing one class we enjoyed the most at the UW, and our dream internship. Well, guess what? I think interning at Google was mentioned the most times (by like a third of us?) and we are not surprised. Google is one of the best companies for someone looking to work in the UX field (or honestly any field).

  1. Networking. I think we all heard of this and why it’s important blah blah blah... I just want to highlight that for a UX designer, I think a direct benefit from networking is that we meet new people (from different ages, backgrounds, disciplines, etc.) that can broaden our perspectives and inspire us in many ways. It is helpful in the long run because we will be more likely to see and consider the different perspectives that others may have (we often fail to recognize) — and we grow to be more aware, culturally sensitive, empathetic, and inclusive, which can be expressed through our designs. We develop the values that help us to be better designers.
  2. And here is the Portfolio Stuff. One of my main frustrations is that I don’t have a lot of end-to-end projects from school demonstrating the UCD process to put on my portfolio… I have a few projects in visual design, physical computing, etc, which aren’t really UX. And I want to show my UX skills but I feel like what I have is insufficient. And then someone asked a question at the panel that helped me realize what I needed. This person was an electrical engineer transitioning into the field of UX, and the problem is that he doesn’t have projects that exactly follow the UCD process. How can he apply to UX internships with a portfolio in a different discipline? I thought the answer from the panel would be something like getting UX experience by “doing work for non-profit projects”, “participating in startups”, or “starting a personal project on your own” to build your portfolio first. These are all legit things to do but they involve huge amounts of time and efforts to be put in. What I did not expect was that one of the UX designers told us that we should start by explaining how you considered the role of the user in the process of your past projects. If not, how you failed to consider the user. As UX designers, we need to practice thinking from the user’s perspectives at all times, and learn from mistakes, insufficiencies or drawbacks. We are not perfect but we can try to be better at what we do.

Generally, what I learned about UX portfolios:

  • Are stronger than resumes
  • Good ones have breadth and depth
  • Good ones show complete end-to-end processes, the design journey, and articulate the story
  • Should avoid being text-heavy
  • I vs. We; Call out what you did, what you are responsible for versus what the group did on the project
Here is a pic of some of the HCDE kids! I’m on the far right with a cool green duffel bag.

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Ruotong Melody Xu

Product Design Intern @ Disney | UW HCDE Alumna