Why I loved my product design internship at RingCentral, and you will too
In the summer of 2020, I was fortunate enough to land an internship at RingCentral amid pandemic and had a great virtual internship experience with the amazing folks there. Before joining RingCentral’s UX team, I never knew that there could be a place that fulfills all my imagination of what an ideal working environment is like: collaborative, supportive, and impactful.
Some background stories about me:
I graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in UX/HCI focus in Dec 2019 and started my full-time job search in Jan 2020. One thing I hadn’t expected at all was the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the end of March, all my full-time job interviews were either canceled or paused due to hiring freezes. Luckily, I also applied to a couple of internships and got a few interviews, RingCentral was one of them. I knew the job market was very tough, and tons of companies were having hiring freezes, which led to countless offers getting rescinded. Hence, when I got the product design internship offer from RingCentral in April, I accepted it immediately without any hesitation. And this is where the story starts.
What is the UX team and my internship experience at RingCentral like?
RingCentral is a tech company located in Silicon Valley, we offer cloud enterprise Unified Communications as a service (UCaaS), including cloud phone systems, SMS, team messaging, video conferencing, etc. We have 80ish UX folks on our UI/UX team globally, around 40ish UX people in the US (and the number keeps growing!)
In the summer of 2020, I worked as a product design intern in RingCentral Video team. I worked on a multitasking preview feature for RingCentral’s video conferencing tool on mobile devices, which was shipped in Q1 2021.
On my first day, my manager enacted a general project timeline together with me. The best thing was, as an intern, I got ownership of my design project. I conducted multiple user research and iterated my designs based on research insights. I also collaborated closely with cross-functional stakeholders throughout the project, including product managers and engineers. These valuable opportunities broadened my vision as a junior designer, allowing me to conduct UX design from a more comprehensive view in the future.
During my time at RingCentral, I made lots of new connections, learned a lot from UXers’ past design/research journey, built impacts via end-to-end design, and was even lucky enough to get converted to full-time at the end of the internship! In the following sections, I’m going to share four aspects that I particularly like about interning here.
1. Friendly, collaborative, and talented people and culture
If I had multiple offers in hand and had to choose one from them, one thing I’d value the most would be the people and culture. For instance, during the interview process, you’ll get a chance to observe what the people and culture are like at a certain company.
The best part of doing an internship is I got three months to experience what it’s like to work there in person and get to know the people and the team better, and if this place suits me or not. During this internship, I really enjoyed the work-hard-play-hard vibe in the UX team, and everyone is collaborative and supportive just like a big family. Apart from that, I feel the RingCentral UX team has wise and visionary UX leaders (leaders matter!), which made me really want to start my full-time UX career here within a couple of weeks of starting my internship.
2. End-to-end intern project and great mentorship
There are some factors I look into most for an internship. For instance, whether I’ll be able to get an independent project and conduct end-to-end research and design, if this project will be shipped once the design is handed off so that my design can have real-world impact, if I’ll get mentorship from a senior designer and grow as much as possible.
Luckily, all the above checkboxes were fulfilled over my time at RingCentral. I do believe that being able to get good mentorship at an early career would be very beneficial to junior designers. I’ve learned a ton during my internship by observing and grasping how experienced designers work on design projects, how they communicate with cross-functional stakeholders, the way they design. I’ve learned a ton during my internship and even now as a full-time product designer here, I keep learning and growing.
3. Unlimited self-initiated user research
As a UX designer, I’ve always wanted to “design for users”. The truth is that UX is indeed a vast field and depending on the employer, the product, the position, the team function, sometimes you may find yourself not designing for users but for business needs. (It doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing though, I always believe in trying more and you’ll know more about what you like)
RingCentral’s UX team has UserTesting.com subscriptions for UX researchers and designers to conduct both lightweight and comprehensive user research. These research insights can shed light upon multiple design options when designers and PMs are feeling stuck. Throughout my internship, I conducted dozens of user testings for each design iteration. Thus, in my final intern presentation, I could confidently say that my major design decisions were backed up by my user research data.
4. Numerous intern events, swags, and lots of new friends
In my 3-month internship, I made 10+ friends out of 40 interns! There were four UX interns on the UX team, including two product design interns, one UX research intern, and one UX management intern. I also got assigned a RingTern Pal throughout my internship, and we did keep in touch even after the internship ended. (She got converted as well, yay!)
There was a 2-month long design challenge hackathon called “Disrupt 2020” at RingCentral, which divided the intern cohort into five groups. Each group had to come up with a cool product feature idea and present the pitch to leadership in the last week. What’s even better is that those ideas could potentially be on our product roadmap, and be built and released in the future.
Big thanks to the RingCentral UX team for taking me under your wing, and special thanks to Yufei and Dave on the RingCentral Video team for your guidance and support along the way. I’d say this is by far one of the best internship experiences I’ve ever had.
If you’re a student looking for UX internships or new grad jobs, or if you’d like to learn more about the RingCentral UX team, feel free to drop a comment or reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have! : )