4 Lessons I Learned as a Product Design Intern at Kalibrr
I had high expectations going into my internship as a Product Design Intern at Kalibrr last June 2017. My friend Jaime, who interned at Kalibrr, told me so many interesting stories about his time there, and he kept telling me how it was a challenging but fun and interesting place to work at.
Suffice to say, Kalibrr still exceeded my expectations. There really is something magical about working at Kalibrr, and I really loved the challenging tasks, the quirky co-workers, and the impact I made with the 2 months I was there.
My internship at Kalibrr didn’t get off to a really good start though. On my first day, there was only a bit of onboarding for me as a new intern. My supervisor, Rey, just went through a checklist of things he had to tell me about really quickly. I spent the rest of the day just asking him questions about what he did as a designer, and asked him for tips, tools, and advice on how I could be better as a designer.
However, as my internship went on, I came to love it more and more. Kalibrr doesn’t really have a formal internship process to it, but that’s also what makes it challenging and fun. You’re really forced to talk to as many people as you can to learn as much as you can about the company.
I handled a total of 12 tasks that involved designing or re-designing parts of Kalibrr’s website and mobile app. Some involved doing user research and data gathering, some involved usability testing, while most involved changing the visual design of certain pages.
Through my internship, I learned a lot of important things about how companies work and how design teams work. Here’s some of my most important learnings:
1. Design is more about solving problems than it is about creating pretty screens.
Before taking this Product Design internship, I was quite scared. At the time, I had only about a year of experience designing things. I was afraid that my designs for Kalibrr wouldn’t be as visually appealing as they wanted.
However, when I got to Kalibrr, most of the tasks they had for me were about solving the problems of users in certain screens or flows.
Kalibrr already had a design system and a style guide for their platform, so I didn’t have to design my own components. Instead, I had to use a lot of logic to figure out all the possibilities in a user flow, and a lot of creativity and iteration in positioning elements in a screen. I came to learn that being skilled in logic and problem-solving, and being willing to keep iterating, are so important when it comes to UX Design.
2. Design reviews are very important in getting feedback about your designs.
One of the things we had regularly at Kalibrr was a weekly design meeting. Our design team, which was 3 designers plus me at the time, would meet with our product manager, Joan. Each of us would present the designs we were working on to the others, and we’d be able to give feedback to each other. This was one of my favorite activities in Kalibrr, since I got to talk to and learn from the other designers.
I was able to show my designs, and they usually found errors in what I made. They’d then suggest improvements that I wouldn’t have thought of alone. They showed me different ways I could make my design more visually appealing, or more in line with Kalibrr’s branding. I also really enjoyed giving feedback to my co-designers’ designs. I was glad I felt empowered to give feedback even if I was just an intern.
3. Design exercises are a great way to stimulate creativity & camaraderie among design teams.
Another activity I really enjoyed was when us designers would come together for a fun design exercise. A design exercise is a 1–2 hour activity where designers solve a random design problem, in order to stimulate creativity and problem solving skills. They were held about once a month.
One of our design problems was about designing an experience that allows 4 executives to ride a self-driving car, and make the most out of a 4-hour journey on a weekday. The other design problem we tackled was designing a better app for GoPro. Both of them were fun, and I realized how designers can have such different approaches and ideas to the same problem.
4. As an intern, it’s up to you to maximize your internship, so talk to co-workers and senior managers as much as you can.
During my internship at Kalibrr, one of the things I really wanted to do was get to talk to their CEO, Paul Rivera. I heard a lot of great things about Paul, and he seemed like a very inspiring and intelligent leader. However, he usually wasn’t in the office because he was out with meetings or giving talks.
Nevertheless, when he was in the office one time, I made sure to approach him and introduce myself to him. I talked about how I was really enjoying working at Kalibrr, and I asked if I could schedule a lunch or meeting with him to ask him some questions.
He agreed, so we scheduled a meeting the next week! During my meeting with him, I learned a lot about what his schedule was like as a CEO. I was even able to pitch and demo to him our HangTime web app, which we were just about to launch then.
Aside from meeting Paul, I also got to talk to and learn from some of the developers in Kalibrr. One of the developers even taught me how to use Git and Github properly, which I now use quite regularly. I really treasured these moments, and I was glad I got to talk to and learn from a lot of people there.
All in all, I really valued the learnings, fun experiences, and network I gained in Kalibrr.
I’d say Kalibrr is one of the best places to intern as a UI/UX or Product Design Intern in the Philippines, because their platform is used by thousands of jobseekers and recruiters every day.
I even got to see some of my designs live on the platform even before my internship ended, and it was a great feeling to see them. Hopefully, my future internships and jobs would be as fun and filled with learnings as this internship I had with Kalibrr.