Looking back at our first product design internship

Why real product experience is at the core of our intern experience, what interning at a tech startup looks like and more from our first intern and one of the programme’s mentors.

Why and how we host interns — Stephen, mentor

Last August we said hello to our first Product design intern, Sandor. Lucky for us, after his 6-month internship ended, we didn’t have to say goodbye. Sandor is now with us as a full-time Product designer.

Hosting an intern seems like a no brainer, but given Deliveroo is a sometimes hectic, always fast-paced startup that loves to embrace change, things aren’t always so simple. We had to make sure our team had reached the maturity and size needed to offer a valuable internship programme.

We had 2 main goals for the programme:

1. Invest in our community

Our team cares deeply about investing in content, research and design beyond the walls of the Deliveroo office. We wanted a programme that didn’t bias towards students or those with experience. It could give someone their first taste of working life or transition to a new career or move companies to accelerate their growth.

We crafted an experience to expose interns to the realities of designing in a fast-paced tech company. We wanted them to try adapting to shifting team priorities, building relationships with their product partners, solving large-scale product problems and honing their design skills without isolating them in an overly protective intern bubble.

Being embedded in a product team is the most effective way to progress designers early in their careers.

2. Build a culture of mentorship in our Content, Research and Design team

Working at pace and navigating partnerships with PMs, engineers, data scientists, content designers and researchers has the potential to be…overwhelming. So we coupled the embedded approach with a small but supportive network of mentors. This is where Saff (the programme’s other mentor) and I came in.

I’m around 3 years into my career as a Product designer and I felt it was time to begin exploring how I could give back some of what I’ve learned. But it can be tricky to find mentoring opportunities organically. The programme gave me a chance to mentor in a structured manner.

My use of email at Deliveroo increased by around 203% while organising the recruitment process

I was Sandor’s point of contact as he progressed from first conversation with Deliveroo through to job offer. I set him up to go to user research during his first week and now 7 months later I still get to enjoy our regular one to ones.

It also gave me the chance to review applications, lead my first onsite interviews and navigate the difficult feedback conversations that can follow. This has all been invaluable early experience of the hard work and hours that go into building a strong team.

Internships bring value to all involved.

What it’s like to be an intern — Sandor, intern

Growing your skills and learning new ways of approaching problems is essential at the early stages of a design career. Being in an environment that supports this is key. Last year I was working at a startup and felt my rate of growth as a designer begin to slow. I wanted to join a company where I’d be part of a larger design team, to learn from other designers and get new opportunities.

When I started looking, all the job posts that fit these criteria were for Senior product designers. But one listing caught my eye and that was Deliveroo’s first Product design internship. I’ve always loved being surrounded by people I could learn from and Deliveroo has one of the best product, design and engineering teams I’ve ever worked with. Being part of a fast growing company means that you’re constantly facing new challenges. This is exactly the type of environment where you can learn and develop your skills.

Deliveroo was flexible and offered a programme that was best suited to make sure I got the most out of my 6 months. I started in August 2018 when the newly formed Payments team didn’t have a full-time designer. A number of engineers just joined the team along with a Product manager so it was a perfect match for my previous payments experience.

I attended user research, the Deliveroo summer party and a CRD pasta-making social all in the first week. After that eventful beginning, I got my starter projects. I was really pleased because they touched a large part of the experience straight away. I was working on impactful features and collaborating with designers so I could get to know them better.

The first project I worked on was with Ann Foo from our Growth team. The challenge was to allow users to log in with their Facebook and Google accounts. It sounds simple on paper, but it’s challenging to build at scale. This project required effort from many different teams so it gave me a good overview of how people collaborate at Deliveroo and what to expect moving forward. Some things were unclear at the beginning, some things changed the last minute, sometimes we didn’t have a big enough room to fit the team, and other times we faced some unforeseen issues that almost delayed the project. In a nutshell, we are still figuring things out so it can get a bit hectic. In the end it all worked out and we shipped the feature. The project made it into the end of the year review presentation from the company CEO. #impact

I really enjoyed my work because the people here made it easy for me to settle in and supported me whenever I needed it. Amongst many others, Sana, Stephen and Saff really made sure I had a great experience and the right environment to support my career development. I’m thankful that got to be the first Product design intern at Deliveroo.

Six months went by really quickly and it was an easy decision to accept the full-time offer. I’m excited to be part of the team that has just started looking for 2019s Product design intern to give back some of what I learned.

Sound like an internship for you? Read the full description and apply here!