December 16, 2015
Guest post by Amy Cheng from Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design, who interned this fall with our Customer Experience team in Vancouver.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and internships are a great way to explore and discover gaps of knowledge and experience. I’m in the middle of redesigning my career, and accepting a second internship at FCV as a User Experience Researcher was an opportunity to learn as much as I could about what I don’t know, and I am privileged to write about it.
Before my internship started I knew I was in for a positive learning experience because every interaction leading up to my first day was thoughtful, intentional and supportive. Human Resources set me up for success with a starter package of things to know on the first day: FCV specific processes and notes that would be helpful to a non-local in the city. The User Experience Research Lead helped me to define internship goals early on, and gave me parts of client projects to help with and observe to understand where my strengths and weaknesses were.
It’s hard to write about a typical day, because there really wasn’t one. Instead, I can share what I learned. FCV’s core offerings include user experience and service design, and I wanted to discover more about each discipline. Working with the research team was a great way to learn when and why to use one research method over another, how to ask the right questions, and how to reframe a problem set. I helped to develop an internal meeting room poster that saved employees’ time when booking rooms in four offices across three time zones. I worked on a decision making process map for clients and project managers that determined which research method to use depending on the questions or problems at hand. I got to be a part of developing research plans, interviewing subject matter experts, and facilitating workshops. I learned how user experience, design and strategy are all intimately related yet uniquely different.
Three months flew by because every day there was something new to learn, someone awesome to talk to, and a fun crew to eat lunch with. My favourite part about the internship was getting to brainstorm creative solutions and talking through client problems with FCV’s talented team of Service Designers, Content Strategists and UX Architects. I learned new terminology and how to best communicate solutions between different teams.
Another favourite experience was having one-on-one conversations about career development with FCV’s executive team. Despite having accomplished what seems like a lifetime of successes, everyone I spoke to was humble, down to earth, and happy to share their advice about personal growth.
As an intern, one can go through many micro-moments of experiencing all the feels. In the beginning there is a lot of “what ifs,” acclimatizing to team dynamics and understanding how my skillset complements client work. Then there is a thousand learning opportunities that push you past your comfort zone and challenge you to use new tools and approach problems from different angles. Finally, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully navigating through opposing user needs and business requirements, and how to incorporate critical feedback to continue improving a solution.
My experience at FCV was a tipping point of personal growth and I cannot be more grateful to those who worked with me to help me come into my own. I left feeling confident and motivated by the desire to craft a meaningful future in fields of strategy and design.
Amy J. Cheng
Masters in Design candidate 2016
School of Industrial Design, Carleton University