A City Tech OpenLab ePortfolio

Category: Internships (Page 1 of 2)

Self Evaluation

Working at Viacom has been a great experience. I learned a lot of about how an app for a big brand like MTV is created. In essence I learned about how media companies like Viacom develop apps for their many channels that they own. There is a lot of steps in designing an app that will satisfy their users. From user testing sessions to researching competitors it all comes into play when designing the right app.

I was happy that this internship was not just  a place where I would be doing administrative task. I was part of a team and I helped as much as possible to design something that will actually be released out into the public. I learned about bonding as a team, the importance of communication and the social structure in a corporate company like Viacom. There is a lot of design rules in Viacom and it seems like they limit your sense of creativity, but I believe that is a good thing because having a set path can help bring out the product quicker and see from the feedback of the user if there is anything to change.

I am happy to have Jason as my supervisor because he was always there to keep in check with me. I stepped out of my ¬†boundary of working quietly and actually spoke up to him if I think anything was wrong with the work. I would ask a lot questions and even when I don’t know anything I was not afraid to ask questions. Working at Viacom has gave me experience in what it is like to design for a corporate company. Best of all there were a lot of perks for working at such a big company such as free conferences and attending free events.

Road map planning session

One thing I realized from interning at Viacom was that they plan ahead far ahead from their launch updates on their apps. The designers collaborate with the developers and product managers in order to plan out what should be done in certain time increments. In order for everyone to be aware of what’s going on in each team they have the employees attend a road map meeting session at Viacom Time Square building. Jason told me that I should attend in order to get a better understanding on how they plan on releasing certain builds of the MTV app.

My experience at this road map meeting was kind of boring. I don’t think designers really need to be there since they just hand the designs files to the developers. However, Jason explained to me that designers need to be there to support the developers in communicating with the product managers on what is going to happen with future designs. They need to be there to help them keep up to date with information and help them if they don’t know how to explain the up coming design changes on the apps.

The place that we were having this meeting was kind of big and there were also refreshments and lunch provided. It was the whole day from 9am to 5pm and I think I stayed in that place without leaving for the whole day. It was sort of like a big conference/meeting in some sort of way. Overall it was a good experience in understanding how a company like Viacom plans things in term of releasing their apps to the public.

Trip to Dia Museum

Since the head boss of the department want’s to form relationships between each design team he decided to plan a trip to the Dia: Beacon Museum¬†in upstate New York. I wanted to get to know more about the other design teams in our department so I decided to go on Friday. We all had to meet early in the morning at Grand Central Station in order to take the Metro North up to the Beacon. Honestly it has been a while since I’ve taken the Metro North upstate and was excited for this experience.

It was a pretty sunny and warm day and the upstate scenery was very pretty during the Autumn season. I can see a lot of the autumn foliage near the museum and the front building of the museum¬†looked very square shaped and symmetrical. In my opinion the museum wasn’t very interesting. I’m not too big of a fan of contemporary art pieces which the museum contained. We had a tour of half of the museum and as the tour guide was explaining various piece I wasn’t really catching on and couldn’t understand why someone would create such an art piece. I think if I studied more on contemporary art then I would have a appreciation of all the various things I was looking at in the Beacon.

During the afternoon we were provided with lunch so we all ate outside near the grass at the Beacon. The scenery was quite pleasant and the the lunch wasn’t that bad even though it was only a turkey sandwich. There was a bee flying around as we were eating and it was quite distracting. However, I learned more about the other designers at Viacom. I also met another intern Regina, who is a graduate student from NYU. I learned what she does as an intern and how she was originally from Norway and came to America to get her Masters Degree. Overall it was a nice day to form a relationship with other people at my department.

Meetings with the other design teams

Every Wednesday afternoon all the design teams in the Viacom Music and Entertainment department would have a meeting together. I dont’ often attend these meetings because this is the same time that I would have my internship class. However, when I do go it is quite interesting. I was able to meet the Vice President of Product Design, Jon who is the head boss of Jason. I was also able to meet the team working on MTV news and events.

During these meetings there are different things going on each week. There would be critiques on the designs on team is working on. A review on a certain user testing sessions a team has went through. In general it is a meeting that helps understand what other teams are working on. This is sort of a bigger version of my daily meeting with my own team. I believe having these big meetings is great in order to bond with the other design teams. Jon, our head boss in the whole department believes highly in forming a relationship with other designers in order to build a better product for Viacom. I agree that communication is key when working in a team and it can help when you need to design a better app for people to use.

Following a style guide

While working on the MTV app mock up for Android I was introduced to MTV’s style guide. Jason explained to me that MTV has their own style guide and it is followed in every platform on MTV. From their website to mobile app, there is a set of rules like fonts and colors that is used throughout. Seeing this style guide I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to design the app from scratch. I was able to see what I had to follow and went on to design from there.

I was also able to look at the design choices that my coworker Ayano did for the iOS version and implement it in my Android version. Jason explained to me that working on the Android version wasn’t suppose to be hard because all the resuource was there for me to look at. He was right and it didn’t take time before I was actually understanding the MTV brand and incorporating it with Material design in order to create a mock up version for Android.

New coworker and new work

After working on the MTV app for Android I would present it to my other coworkers during our weekly afternoon meetings. During this meeting we would each represent what we were working on as well as get feedback from each other. This was also the day that our team got introduced to a new coworker. His name is Skylar and he was originally from Orange County, California. He was working as a product designer at Oakley before deciding to move to the east coast to work at Viacom. It’s always interesting to met someone from the west coast and getting their insights on design. Skylar seems like a interesting person because he always has something to say and easy to get along with. I guess having these qualities are ¬†needed in order to communicate well when in a team.

After getting some feedback and meeting our new team member I was also introduced to other work asked to be done by Jason. Since my design work for Android was not in a rush to be finished I was able to do other design work for MTV. I was asked to create screens on Sketch for the current version of MTV for iOS as well as work on the screens for MTV Xbox One version. This wasn’t a hard thing to do because I had to look over Comedy Central’s Xbox One app version and just re skin it with MTV branding. Jason explained to me¬†that Viacom looks to implement similar designs for all of their channels so that it can be consistent throughout.

Working on MTV app

One of the things I got to do during the internship was help support the design process of the MTV app for both iOS and Android. My coworker Ayano was in charge of desgingin the MTV Nextgen app that will be released in the second quarter of next year. I helped her with visual quality assurance and checking to see if anything was wrong with her mock up design of the app.

The way we design our mock ups at Viacom is using a vector based program called Sketch. It’s an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. I believe that people who are working in the app design industry are shifting towards Sketch due to it’s many advantages. After using Sketch while interning at Viacom I can see why. It’s simple to use and the interface is not so intimidating as compared to Adobe Illustrator.

While supporting Ayano with the iOS app of MTV I was also assigned to designing a mock up for the Android version. This was a big responsibility for me because I was assigned to work on something that they will be using in the future. Jason believed in my skills so I knew that I had to work hard on this project in order to satisfy his expectations. I went through a lot of steps before actually starting on the design in Sketch. I researched on other apps similar to MTV on Android and see their design choices. I also learned about Material design and how it is used in almost every Android app. I plan to use Material Design in the MTV app for Android.

Unexpected news

On my usual day in work I started off my day with an unexpected news. I headed to my usual morning meeting with Jason and my other coworkers expecting to talk about what we are planning on doing today. However, one of my coworkers Kyle wasn’t there. Jason explained to us that the company decided to lay off some employees in our department and Kyle was one of them.

Jason explained to Ayano and I that it wasn’t any performance reason and that it was just differences in views and some work politics mumbo jumbo. He didn’t want to go more into detail and told us that the company gave him a nice severance package.

I know I haven’t gotten to know Kyle long enough, but I expect it may have something to do with him being in the department for a long time and they may be looking to hire another designer with a new perspective to work in the MTV app. I also found out that they also laid off other senior designers in my department.

Experiencing this news during my internship was shocking, but it made me realize that it is common for people to leave or quit their jobs at a company like Viacom. Everyone has to perform on the same level as everyone else and there is a lot of expectation in terms of designing a wonderful app for one of Viacom’s many channels that they own. What happened this day has motivated me to work even harder¬†during my internship so I can be up to par with my fellow coworkers at Viacom.

Day to day

Interning at Viacom my schedule consist of going there Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm. I was able to make my own schedule and decided that I want to work there everyday and as much time as possible in order to get a full experience of what it’s like to work in a corporate environment like Viacom. ¬†I only work half a day on Wednesdays and Friday’s because of class.

First thing everyday at 11am I would head off to my supervisor’s office along with the rest of my team so we can have a meeting. We talk about what we are working on as well as go off topic and talk about other things non work related. I think these group meetings are good for everyone since we work far apart of each other and this is a good time to see each other everyday. In addition, the whole design department uses this chat program on our computer called Slack. It’s a great app that allows our team as well as other people in the design department to talk to each other even though we are far apart. We use this program daily to keep up to date with our work progress during the day.

During the afternoon around 2pm I usually have my lunch, but I would just eat my food while also working so that there isn’t much downtime. I’m pretty much a hard worker so I like to do things and send them to my supervisor to get any feedback. My first week interning at Viacom just consist of competitive app research which I had to present to the whole team at the end of the day in a meeting where my team presented what they are working on and get feedback from each other. This type of meeting was good for me in understanding how people present their work and improve on my public speaking when presenting my own work to my team in a company environment.

Getting to know my coworkers

I work¬†at Viacom’s Music & Entertainment department and my team works predominantly on the MTV app. ¬†During my second day of my internship I was introduced to other designers at Viacom’s lower Manhattan location. I realized that there are other teams who work on other channels for Viacom. They also work as a team of 3 and have the same set up as my team ( A design director leading a team consisting of a senior and associate designer). Most of the designers are located on the 7th and 3rd floor and they are bunched up together in one section of the floor except for my supervisor and I. ¬†I also found out that one of the associate designers were recently hired after being an intern during the summer.

My day consist mainly in understanding what my team does with the MTV app and their current progress with the design. I learned what each of my co-workers are working on and¬†what role I will be doing in supporting my team as a intern. MTV has two apps, one for news and the other for their music and TV shows. Jason assigned me with the task of researching competitive news apps and see what they are doing that differentiate from MTV news app. They are trying to get an idea on improving their news app and in hopes by next year integrate MTV news app together with MTV’s main app.

During the afternoon Jason wanted the team to bond and get to better know each other so we went out to eat for lunch. We went to this nice restaurant in the West Village called Ditch Plains. I had a Fish Sandwich with fries and honestly I was impressed how good it was. There we talked about a lot of things like our lives as a designer and other design topics. It was very interesting and made me appreciate my team members more for opening up themselves.


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