This summer, I was thrilled to work for Google+. I really appreciate that my teammates treated me as a real Googler, not an intern at all, which gave me an opportunity to learn more. Here are some outcomes.
1. Never be afraid of asking people to clarify their statement again
I’m not native speaker, which I always saw my language skill as a con for me to work in the U.S. I felt embarrassed to ask people to explain for me. But what I found here is, even native speakers will ask another native speaker to say again. Then I realized that is totally not an embarrassing thing. There is nothing wrong with my language skill. It is just a general problem for people’s communication.
2. Think with outside of box of technical constrains
I have a background of software engineering. So I really understand how a software is composed, which I thought was an advantage for me while communicating with PMs and engineers. But I’m a designer, not a technical consultant after all. I should jump outside of the box and run in the wild for a while to look at what can be done in the near future, even if we currently have technical constrains or deadline. I felt unconvincing when I send out my design without any idea of how to realize that in the past. Through this internship, I found the best way to spread out ideas is proposing different iterations for both short-term plan and long-term plan, which would be a helpful for PMs and engineers to understand what is going on here, not just consider the next release version.
3. Defend, as a designer
A junior designer may learn how to gather and process feedbacks from stakeholders. But a designer is not a feedback processing machine. We should really learn to defend ourself in some situations. PMs have their own concerns. Sometimes, we need to push the product team to move forward.
4. Strategies to shape design culture in a team
My hosts, not only the previous one Dickson, but also the second one Sasha, are all good leaders in a design team. I learned a lot from the team that how a leader shape a healthy and happy design culture there. We have 1 on 1 meeting every week to share opinions about design, work, and life. We have weekly team meeting to share our inspirations, our trips, and apps we like. We have lunch meeting to share our experience, our thinking about design. We have design reviews twice a week to critique our work before we provide them to PMs. That’s all different strategies to make designers feel like a family in the team. For self-motivated designers, fruitful meetings would never waste their time and energy.
5. Talk and talk more
Since I was a kid, there is one feedback that I was always given by my teachers, which was that I was so introvert and didn’t talk at all in the class. I’m kind of not keeping quiet at class when I went to CCA. (Thank god I can study what I love.) But I still looks quiet when I enter a new environment and look around what is going on. Introvert is not a defect at all. Keeping quiet and thinking before speaking give me a chance to think deeply. Thanks for all my colleagues, they never push me to speak out my idea. And some of them are not native speakers and also a kind of introvert. They are willing to talk frankly with me anytime, which makes me feel comfortable and gain my confidence. At the end of summer, when I went back to school, people all said I got better speaking skill now.
6. Tell a sharp story
People are not easy to absorb what you said about your design. You might not in the same page at all. The best way is telling a story for the beginning. While in the mid stage, they start to have question. What I learned is understanding their question at first and think about how they start to have this question. How to tell a story with your sharp opinion is always a lesson that designer must learn.