10. Updates and Exciting Things to Look Forward To

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Going back to the long project, this week I implemented translation to forms that the site comes with. I am not expecting this project to be fully done anytime soon as we have most components up and running, but we continue to revise some of them as we get feedback from the client. And given the nature of the sites that the organization builds, there is a lot of rewiring to be done in the backend to install all functionalities.

Our weekly meeting with my supervisor did not occur this week, but we communicated over Slack, our main way of communication, so follow-ups and clarifying questions were addressed very smoothly. For providing instructions, my supervisor approached them with screen recordings and send them on Slack.

In addition to working with the building blocks for the site, and enhancing internal helpdesk articles, I also got assigned to organizing data in preparation for building yet another site for a different client. The process will most likely look the same, so I am excited and looking forward.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am continuing to work for the organization past my internship hours, so I will get to see these projects through until they are delivered, so I will walk away with the full experience of working with clients from beginning to end.

Thanks for reading!

09. Preparing for Future Tasks and Events

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This week my supervisor and I had our weekly meeting, during which we touched base on the site we have been working on the past few weeks. There were no updates from the client and nothing was pending on our end, so my supervisor assigned me a different and relatively smaller task. I was working on updating internal help desk articles that walk users through the steps-by-steps when using specific features of their sites. It was a fun change from building sites, and it allowed me to present information written and visually. As a future task, I will be organizing data that we will soon import into the platform and working on more sites for a different client.

Speaking of future events, being the only staff member that resides in NYC, I will be representing the organization in June at a training that one of our clients is holding for their users, so that is something to look forward to! The next post will be my last journal entry, so it was great documenting this experience, and thanks for reading.

08. Progress with Building a Site and Smaller Tasks

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While on break, I continued working on the same site with my supervisor. I got tasked with creating interfaces for the client to review data and other aspects of their site in a visually and really easy manner. As I have previously mentioned, this iterative process has been interesting and fun to do.

In addition, as a way to not get bored with the same project, since it is a very long one, my supervisor also asks me to perform relatively smaller tasks, such as revising older video tutorials to put together a site anatomy, noting changes in features over the last 2-3 years, as the platform we use to build our clients these sites also keeps getting improved. New features continue getting implemented, and existing ones moved around to provide the best user experience possible, which I enjoy happening in front of my eyes because UX/UI is a topic of interest to me, therefore I continue learning from these professionals.

07. An Exciting Project! (Cont.)

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Week three of working on this site has helped me remember that the behind-the-scenes is often messy, which is not a bad thing, iterative design pretty much encompasses that idea.

After many iterations and fixes, my supervisor and I met this morning and the meeting started off with notes regarding changes that needed to be done and prioritized. There was a huge lack of consistency in the initial data that the client provided us with, so I was tasked with mainstreaming the entire site. Thanks to the strategies I developed while working on this project for the past two weeks, I was able to get things done effectively and in a timely manner.

During this week’s meeting, my supervisor expressed gratitude for my attention to detail (with great emphasis), how I am able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, as well as how I go about follow-ups. She also mentioned that the client was very happy with the progress so far and appreciated seeing scrambled data that they provided us with converted in a visually appealing manner. So I think this is a nice highlight to show how I am able to meet business standards while providing results that the client appreciates.

Spring break is around the corner, so I will be on a short posting hiatus but will be back with reports on the finished product, maybe other projects, and a reflection of my overall experience.

Stay safe and see you next time!

Part 02

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2a) Designers are not magicians to make something out of nowhere or are always originals with every single idea. Design, creativity, and ideas are hard to find and come up with, therefore we use others’ works to either draw inspiration or incorporate them into our own work, creating something totally new. All of this is okay, and a is a common practice in the industry. But failing to credit the work by someone else is harmful in many ways: it can hurt not only our reputation as designers but our entire careers.

It is important to recognize that we all do not possess every single skill required for a given project. In the past, as a professional who already works in the field as well as a student, I have found myself outsourcing many times, even during the ideating phase of a project. However, before everything goes into production and definitely before putting the work out into the world, I make sure to check the licensing and/or crediting requirements of any assets that I outsourced.

2b) The negative of failing to credit work that is not our own becomes evident in the case of Fairey vs. The Associated Press. It cost him and his family hard times. Tampering with evidence showed that he knew it was an unethical practice, but he did it anyway, exemplifying disrespect of values not just on a professional level, but on a personal level as well. So even though the dispute was finally settled. His reputation, credibility, and career are forever stained.

Adhering to ethics not only gives us peace of mind but also helps us uphold our personal values of respecting others’ creativity, originality, and efforts. As designers, ethical behavior helps us build trust and reliability, which in turn attracts serious clients. Moreover, it helps us earn the respect of others in the industry.


Part 01

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1a) By prioritizing ethics in our work, we ensure that our clients are protected from all the negative consequences of unethical practices; the first chapter from Design Business + Ethics by AIGA discusses and stresses the importance of ethical practices that reflect this statement. The chapter “A Client’s Guide to Design” emphasizes that client-and-designer clear communication, transparency, and mutual understanding are essential to fostering a good relationship, one that is founded on trust and respect, and for protecting the integrity of the work as well as the client from negative consequences of unethical practices, which in turn can hurt both parties. At my internship, this is not something I stress about because I use screenshots of the platform for the release notes and help desk articles to show step-by-step instructions that I am tasked with. I also work with data, which I then feed into the organization’s platform to produce sites and visual interfaces for the client.

1b) In my second internship blog entry I briefly touched on paperwork, activating logins, and accessing the backend parts of the organization’s website and custom platform. But before getting to that part, I had to sign at least two different confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements that look very similar to this example. How I am navigating that in terms of journaling about my experience and what I am working on, is to generalize the description of the work, making sure I am not going into granular details, not disclosing client information and the data we gather for me to work with for their internal sites.


06. An Exciting Project!

Image by Freepik

Over the past two weeks, I have been responsible for importing data into the platform and using it to create interfaces for a site we are building for one of the clients. During our initial meeting regarding this project, my supervisor provided me with a lot of information, so I had to take notes, memorize steps, and ask follow-up questions on Slack as needed.

It was a bit overwhelming and intimidating, but also very exciting to finally use the platform and apply what I have learned after exploring the backend. As I continue to use the platform, I keep finding ways to complete tasks more efficiently, using shortcuts and other strategies.

There are many aspects to keep track of for a project like this; I needed to exercise attention to detail, using strategies such as keeping a checklist, color coding, leveraging the power of Google sheet comments, Slack extensions, handwritten notes, navigating multiple tabs, split screen, using dual monitors, etc.

Over the span of two weeks, I finally was able to import a great majority of the data, which was roughly 25 worth of Google sheet tabs, and built the necessary interfaces for the site so my supervisor would have something to show the client at their next meeting. In terms of interacting with clients, my supervisor does all that, then she and I discuss their feedback and tweaks in our weekly meetings.

The UX/UI of the platform was not as helpful as I had hoped, so I made sure to keep track of them in my journal… and discuss them with my supervisor at our meetings.

Next week, my supervisor will have updates from her meeting with the client. I will make revisions based on the client’s feedback and clarifications. See you then!

05. Collaborative Work

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The day always begins with me finishing up tasks I couldn’t get to the week after, or preparing for our weekly meeting with my supervisor. Although, the day before I always make sure to check in with her in case she had something for me to work on first.

Our communication platforms are:

  • Slack: for text, and sometimes video communication
  • Zoom: for weekly meetings with my supervisor
  • Google Meet: for staff meetings

This week, in collaboration with the member I got introduced to last week, I worked on structuring a page for an article and release notes she has been working on. We Zoomed first to talk about the details and scopes of the project, and ask clarifying questions, then used Slack for follow-ups. It was a quick project but fun in that it was collaborative, exercising teamwork skills in a virtual environment.

Aside from that, my supervisor tasked me with putting together a help desk article to inform users, with graphics and words, on how to use a different newly released feature. I was able to use my creative skills to present all the information, not just visually, but in written form as well.

Stay tuned for my entry next week because I will be working on an actual site for one of the clients, which will allow me to put my training on using the platform into practice.

04. Hands-On!

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Up to this point, I was mainly meeting with my supervisor to make sure all paperwork was in order and getting tasked with familiarizing myself with the platform and the organization’s website, then reporting back on the next meeting.

This week, however, my supervisor and I met but were joined by another staff member for a quick introduction, because I would be collaborating on a project with them the following week, and on other future projects. After the introduction, my supervisor and I walked over using the backend of the platform with a real-case scenario that I will be assisting with after the client gives us the green light to start building their site.

I then got invited to join the team meeting later that day, where I got to see all the behind-the-scenes of the organization, how they report back and tackle tickets using GitHub, and discuss milestones and next steps. The overall infrastructure of the organization and platform. It was very insightful.

Before starting the meeting, however, I also experienced the culture of the organization. Everyone has been there for years, so it felt like a group of friends having a virtual call, talking about their pets, how their weekends were, what their kids are up to, etc. I did not feel marginalized or anything, however, considering I was very new to the team. They asked me questions to know me better, etc.

Overall, at this first staff meeting, I gained a clear understanding of the organization’s culture, and how the staff interacts in a professional setting while maintaining the social aspect of the workforce. I also gained an insightful overview of the work and how they manage the entire infrastructure of the platform from the backend.

Collaborative work begins next week. See you then.

03. My Responsibilities/Role

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What you walk away with is always worth more than anything else. I’ve always been someone who is more interested in the experience/takeaway rather than the title, or even the grade (not that I wouldn’t like to continue staying an A student!).

For a very long time, I was undocumented and had to pay for my education out of pocket. It was a struggle, and it even forced me to take some time off from school. Regardless, I was always seeking experiences that added value to my end goal: navigating the industry not just as an employee in a corporate setting, but as an independent designer who is equipped with the business knowledge of design. I took and paid for courses that did not seem to align with my major or contributed towards my graduation requirements (Marketing – Principles of Selling, Brand Strategy for Creatives, to name a few). However, I am hopeful/sure that the knowledge and experience gained from such courses have equipped me for what the industry/workforce has in store for me.

At this internship, my role and responsibilities may not come across as captivating or fitting, in terms of design: Customer Success Intern. However, I specifically chose this organization and stuck to it because of the experience, the insights to gain from behind the scenes, and the people I will be able to network with. During the interview, my supervisor and I discussed and arranged times for me to join and sit in staff meetings, as well as connect with the UX/UI folks.

In next week’s blog post, I will discuss my experience starting the internship and touch on sitting at one of the staff meetings. Stay tuned!

02. About the Organization

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After all the necessary back and forth regarding the onboarding process: paperwork, hours, signing agreements, activating logins, and accepting invites to platforms for organizational communication, payroll, etc., here is an introduction to what my internship organization is all about:

In short, Groutrail is a platform that provides custom solutions for different establishments, which range from project management to customer relationship management to group messaging to a visual database for tracking people and processes. (This is the platform/site I was using while exercising my role as a College Bridge Coach, keeping track of students’ progress to effectively assist them).

The organization size is pretty small, with 6 seasoned members (forming part of the organization for 10+ years), which made me a very noob member! This made me feel both intimidated and confident at the same time. Coming in as a new member of a workplace, even as small as this, is pretty intimidating.

Fitting in often feels like a stressful process for an introvert like myself. Past experiences have certainly challenged me, so I was pretty guarded at first. However, I felt very welcomed into the team very quickly and I was taken into account in important conversations. Also, as previously mentioned, my supervisor remembers me from years back, my work ethic, and just who I am as a person, so she made sure that my integration into the organization was as smooth as possible.

All this also empowered and enabled me in a way. As a newcomer to the organization, I came with fresh eyes and had the chance to provide new perspectives. In fact, on the get-go, I was tasked with keeping a journal to capture UX/UI suggestions/observations when navigating the platform.

01. Searching/Obtaining an Internship

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Finding an internship as a college student can be tedious and daunting, even for us who have real-world experience working in the field either as freelancers or taking time off from school to work full time. I am fortunate to have been building my professional network since 2015 when I was just a Freshman in college. I began getting trained to work with high school students at my former high school to assist them with their own college matriculation process, from start to finish.

During my first 3 years of experience doing this type of work, while attending college, I was making sure to not only apply my design skills any way I could when assisting the students but networking with as many people as possible, including people outside the design field; I felt it was essential to not enclose myself just within the design world. A gut feeling was telling me that doing so would benefit me later in my career. And sure enough, all that came in handy when looking for an internship.

I tried using the resources provided by CityTech to find one that fits my interests: web, UX/UI, coding, graphic design, and education (a mashup of all) since I consider myself a multidisciplinary designer as well as a huge advocate for education access, especially the inclusivity and equity aspects of it. I kept looking throughout the Fall 2022 semester, including online on platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Upwork, etc., until I felt like I had exceeded my internship-hunting timeframe.

I then realized I have been working hard to build a network over the years and should make use of it! My first step was to reach out to my current employer, the co-founder of a non-profit that works with schools and organizations to promote, enhance, and facilitate access to education for marginalized communities.

JUST SO I AM NOT LOSING YOU: When working as a College Bridge Coach (my title at the job I previously mentioned), I was employed by my school, but in partnership with one of the programs at this organization, for all the necessary training the job required. Later I took a three-year gap from school and started working for this same organization as their in-house designer.

So, when I reached out to ask for either a recommendation letter or a way for me to connect with an organization, one came to mind that would meet my specific needs and wants in an internship. Both organizations have worked together in the past, sharing the same vision, when I was just beginning the College Bridge Coach job. I was fascinated by the platform/site they had built to assist Bridge Coaches in working with high school students, tracking all the essential data during the college matriculation process.

Before the semester ended I made sure to reach out as soon as possible after my employer provided me with their contact information. I emailed my pitch, including my skills, interests, why them, and why pick me. I also included a few of the relevant school, work, and even personal projects that I have been up to (I was still working on my portfolio and my resume was a bit outdated but wanted to show them something). One of my interviews has just been recently featured in my work organization’s monthly eBlast at the time, and I included that as well for credibility and in the place of a recommendation letter. In the interview, I talked about what I envision myself doing down the road and how it aligns with what they do.

My design focus is particular: Design but education-access oriented. What your organization does, regarding education and the kind of design (web and UX/UI), is really inspiring and it aligns with where I see myself in the near future. So I think it would be such a great environment for me to do my internship there, further explore ways to create access to education with design, while providing the organization with not only my design perspectives, but my 6 years of College Bridge Coach experience.

I thankfully got a prompt reply to talk details, first via email, then we scheduled a virtual meeting at a much later time for a proper but informal interview since they somewhat knew me already. Regardless of the limited but real-world practices that I already had and the fact that it was going to be an informal interview, I was nervous. It went very smoothly, however. And they were glad to take me in.