Stories from a Design Systems intern at GitHub

View from apartment building in San Francisco
View from apartment building in San Francisco
View from my apartment in SoMa, San Francisco

“GitHub has designers?” is the first question I got when I signed up for 3 months in San Francisco in December of 2018. Over the course of the summer, I would grow and learn more than I ever had before.

This article was written for Interns, a project out of Future Careers to shed light on coveted intern spots and make new cities feel less lonely and hence, does not represent Microsoft, GitHub, or any of its subsidiaries in any way. …


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Breaking out of our Caramel Frappuccino brainwash

A sigh of frustration as I leaned back in the leather chair was a sure sign that I had been sitting in this coffee shop for much too long. And although Starbucks has normalized the idea of working alone, ordering coffee is still a social experience. Knowing someone’s coffee order these days is akin to knowing the songs on someone’s iPod in the early 2000s. Starbucks started as a simple coffee shop, but its menu has grown to hundreds of drinks, each customized to a specific customer.

The Starbucks app today is useful way for customers to create, favorite, and order drinks quickly. It also suggests new drinks, but these are often met with ridicule or controversy. People want to find new drinks and foods that they will enjoy, but they can’t…


My gap semester and what seemed like the longest eight months of my life

Imagine you were told that you almost made it. You almost achieved the dreams that you’d been chasing since you were in elementary school. You could have it all, but there was a catch: you had to wait. Postpone that dream for, let’s say, another 8 months.

What would you do? How would you spend your time? I berated myself with these questions once I’d realized I wasn’t going to college for almost another year.

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Camp Wisdom, site of Central Camp Mosaic 2018

After twelve years of schooling, I had finished applying to college. Growing up in an Asian household, this was the peak of life thus far with years of work put in by both my parents, family, and mentors. By April, I had been deferred or rejected from nearly all the schools of which I had dreamed as a little kid. So, when I received a bright, red “Congratulations!” in my dark dorm room, I was euphoric. I called my parents and cousins immediately, telling them about the great news with the shakiest voice they had ever heard. But my rollercoaster of a heartbeat almost became a flat line when I read “First-Year Spring Admit Program”. …


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Aspiring to be a great designer isn’t the same as trying to become the Rumi of poetry or the Kendrick Lamar of rapping, but every first job has some similarities and the field of design is no different. …


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My first look into the world of UX and UI design

Everyday, I see hundreds of people double-tapping Instagram posts, flipping through Snapchat stories, and swiping right on Tinder. All of these products allow users to share photos and keep in touch with friends, family, and followers.

Then what becomes of the people who are professional photographers? Students in technical cinematography schools? Passionate photography professors? Their pictures can easily be taken, modified, and re-uploaded without consent. This is also a similar issue for aspiring artists and graphic designers.

Thats how I got the idea for ArtWork, an Artist’s Marketplace.

Research: Familiarity with other photo apps

Probably the most difficult part of starting ArtWork was differentiating it from every other photo app. ArtWork’s purpose is to allow buying of photos, designs, and art in an auction-like environment. It adds an element of gamification to the serious field of art. I knew that most users were used to Instagram and the user interface that has set the standard for photo-sharing apps. Thus, I started by looking at Instagram and the method they use to display posts. …


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Last week, I had the privilege to live with a host family in the beautiful city of Sendai, Miyagi, Japan. I went as a Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassador along with five other super cool students. It was truly on of the greatest experiences of my life and I could not thank the other participants, sponsors, and chaperone more the amazing program.

As an aspiring UX designer, I strived to take as many notes and learn as much about daily life as I could in the short time I had. I noticed many differences in design that not only affected appeal to consumers, but also thoroughly influenced the way residents lived their daily lives. …


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How politics ruined my teenage brain

I’ve never really cared about government. Being a lawyer or running for an office simply has not ever crossed my mind as a interesting career or a field that I’m passionate about. But recently, I feel like the United States of America has been shining these two huge spotlights in every teenager’s face. …


What 2015 Showed Humankind About Our History and Actions

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The first day after a holiday break is always depressing for students in high school. One of the most annoying nuisances of a new year is changing the date on every single worksheet. Luckily for us this year, a mistakenly written “2015” is very easily modified to display “2016”. Although a new year always brings change and renewed inspiration, it’s vital for one to also reflect on the events of the past year and focus some of that newfound inspiration towards fixing the problems of the past.

This year, in one word, was astonishing. Sometimes, it meant that humankind surprised us in the best of ways, showing us how kind and amazing our intellects can be when put to the right causes; other times, it meant that we took a step back in the trek to world peace and prosperity. …


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How the cameras have taken over the world.

I took the picture above on a trip in Orland with my family. You can see the plethora of majestic birds soaring over the luscious waves. The beautiful sunset behind me reflects on glorious water. What you don’t see is reality.

If you saw every other angle besides the one I took, there were people everywhere setting up umbrellas, drinking, smoking, leaving trash, and overall polluting the area. …


A few observations made by a sophomore in high school

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image taken from Wikipedia.org

A simple sophomore at an ordinary public high school in Texas, I am considered an underclassmen. An identification mechanism in the brains of my peers informs them I am at least somewhat intelligent, proven from my inquiries in class and test scores. However, intelligence does not correlate to the numbers typed up by a teacher after school at 6 PM. Nor is intelligence writing a story on Medium because you have nothing better to do but complain about your life. I’m surprised someone is still reading at this point, because I know my target audience may have forgotten what reading is altogether. Some people blame technology for the lack of literature in student’s hands, and I agree to an extent, but it isn’t the only factor. The high school environment has very much changed since the days of DJ Tanner from Full House.

About

Zain Khoja

Creating joy at Cornell. Strong advocate for sweet tea.

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