Intern Karina Nguyen tells us how she’s been learning about product design craft, thinking with the Tuck Shop Chefs, and embracing feedback from others

Many things have changed about how our internships at Dropbox are structured this summer, but one thing hasn’t: how cool our interns are. UX Design intern Karina Nguyen filled us in on her goals for her internship, and how her musical talents have helped her understand product design better.

Where do you call home?

I was born and raised in Ukraine, but my parents are Vietnamese. I’ve come to the conclusion that home is where I am now — so for now, it’s Berkeley.

What encouraged you to apply for an internship at Dropbox?

The creative culture. I used to read the Dropbox design blog, and it was the first company that I visited in the Bay Area. I felt so inspired just by talking to lots of creative minds like product designers, UX writers, design researchers, etc. This community is known for having a lot of phenomenal people like Ladies Who Create, and there is simply no reason to not try!

Left: My design challenge

What have you been up to during SIP?

Some of my friends and I launched an app for a local coffee shop that helps refugees get barista training and obtain jobs in that space. I also started learning new coding frameworks like GraphQL and Vue.js, watching Westworld, and composing some quick beats on the piano that will hopefully be combined in a music software some day.

Screenshots of the app illustrating how users can message, apply for jobs and sign up for classes.

How did you first become interested in UX?

In music school they used to teach us about human-instrument interaction. The way you tell a story depends on how you interact with an instrument and how you press keys to compose musical sentences, paragraphs, and eventually a story. I found this mindset in many other fields, but what I really love about product design is that it goes beyond that. You need to empathize and deeply understand the people you play or create for to set the right intentions.

From your experience so far, what has been the most pleasant surprise about interning at Dropbox?

My internship project is definitely a challenging experience, but I really love every aspect of it. I learned so much here, from how to test concepts with real users to how to evaluate design wireframes and embrace feedback in the next iterations. Although it’s a remote internship this year, it was surprising for me to make two strong friendships (shout out to Ivee and Sudipti!) Sudipti and I sometimes have 11 pm design sessions on Zoom, while Ivee and I get dinners almost every night and play tennis on the weekends.

What company value resonates most with you?

Make work human. As designers, we are responsible to empathize and be compassionate with users to deeply investigate their pain points. We are also responsible for communicating our ideas with other team to shape products in a more meaningful and thoughtful way. For example, during Hack Week I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with chef Laurie Moran and some of the most talented engineers to build an internal tool for the Tuck Shop. Even within the internship, you can always find mini side-projects to explore different kinds of design work.

What are you most excited for this summer?

I am very excited to attend Zoom sessions with chefs and others to learn some cool recipes that they created for interns! I’m also always excited for design critique sessions with my team and other fun events!

Middle: Affinity diagramming from home

What perk of being an intern do you love the most?

I really value the support and open culture here at Dropbox. Having three mentors who became my teachers (huge thank you to Seth Whitton, Sam Jau, Chelsi Cocking) with absolutely different backgrounds and getting constructive feedback at the same time helps me so much to navigate my personal growth as a designer and facilitate the success of the team’s project. I really loved every day of my internship, and people I’ve met definitely have a special place in my heart. Knowing that the internship projects here have a meaningful impact on a product is in itself another perk. At Dropbox we are all creating and shaping a quite significant part of the future, and I think this is a really exciting and inspiring place to be.

P.S. Huge shoutout to Aska Cheung, Andrea Deng, Lucy Tobias, Veronica Velasco, Harold

Check, Lisa Hanson, Tansik Koyuncu, Andrew Lee, and many many others! Thank you.

Want to learn more about the team supporting our Interns and University Grads? Check out our teams page here.

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