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UX Internships: What Are They and How to Get Them

by | Feb 25, 2021 | Business

User Experience, known as UX for short, internships are relatively new but highly sought after within the field of design. 

What is User Experience Design (UX)?

Man brainstorming about UX design on multiple papers.
Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

UX “focuses on the interactions between real human users and everyday products and services, such as websites, apps, and even coffee machines.” 

The term UX has been around since the early 90’s when Donald Norman created the idea while working for Apple. He wanted to combine industrial design, graphics, interface, and physical interactions. 

UX is not designing something visually but it improves the journey that a user takes when navigating. Think about it how when you on Amazon, looking on a website to purchase something. A UX design team looks at how that process is for you and ensures that it goes as smoothly as possible. 

UX now is synonymous with good business because it highly improves the buying process for the consumers. 

UX vs. UI

UI stands for user interface. UI is a form of design that interfaces software and computer devices, with a focus on look or style. The goal is to complete a design process using three formats: graphical user interfaces, voice-controlled interfaces, and gesture-based interfaces. 

UX focuses on the interface, while UI focuses on the visual design of the interface.

While UX and UI design are highly connected, they are different things. Some positions and internships will combine the roles, others will separate them. 

What is a UX Design Internship?

A desk with a tablet and a phone resting on it. Phone is on and you can see a a website visible.
Photo by Sven on Unsplash

A UX design internship can be for undergraduate students or for those looking to transition their career paths into a design career. 

Applying To Be a UX Design Intern

UX Design internship programs typically require you to submit a resume, cover letter, and portfolio. How should you prepare those materials and overall prepare for the process?

Preparing

The typical timeline is to begin preparing a year ahead of the start date, but apply six-months before the internship program start date. 

Companies are usually looking for students who are working on their bachelor’s degrees in design-related programs. 

Having some UX-related work experiences, it is preferred to have real-life experiences but utilize school projects as well. 

Companies love if you are passionate about their work. If you have one that is your dream internship, reach out to them via email or find someone with a recruiter on LinkedIn and shoot them a professional message. 

There are a few design-specific career boards that are great to look at such as UX Jobs and Cofolios, but other job posting platforms such as Scholars also have UX jobs listed. 

Some companies that hire UX interns are SAP, SquareSpace, Chegg, Verizon, Motorola, Warner Media, PayPal, CarMax, Adobe, and Amazon. 

Startup companies can be a great place to look too. While they most likely won’t have a program, any experience in UX is great to have.

Resume and Cover Letter

For a resume, you want a basic, clean resume but ensure that it focuses on UX and design-related keywords. Highlight the projects that you have experience with and share what it took to do them, but elaborate on that process further within your portfolio and interview. 

If you have good leadership experience in undergrad, listen about how to talk about that in your resume, cover letter, and interview. It’s great to highlight leadership for UX because you typically will be working on a team.

Portfolio

A portfolio is the best way to visually represent your experience with design skills and design solutions. This can be hard to do if you do not have solid experience. 

If you do have the experience, show three to four of them on a portfolio. This is where you want to explain the process and methods that you used.

There are great ideas and templates on UX design portfolios on sites with UX experts such as UXFolio.

Interview

Before going into a UX interview, know the company profile, industry, and design team. The goal of this interview is to show that you have a good fresh perspective on things and will bring that into the company. 

With your experiences in UX, show your collaboration, thinking, working styles. 

In some interviews, they will give you a problem to solve. Sometimes, these problems may be impossible to solve, but the idea is to see your skills first-hand with thought processes.

Skills to Have for a UX Internship

A man working on a laptop with duel screen monitor.
Photo by Hussam Abd on Unsplash

If you have these skills, highlight them for recruiters to see. They make you a highly qualified applicant for an internship. Although, if you do not, they are great skills to continue working on, or to develop during an internship!

  • Accessibility
  • Collaboration
  • Product design
  • Prototyping
  • User research
  • Communication skills
  • Illustration
  • Motor skills
  • Programming
  • Product thinking
  • UX Research
  • Abstract thinking
  • Growth mindset

Benefits of a UX Internship

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

If you are interested in the design industry, a UX internship will pad your resume for future internships and entry-level positions. The internship will build your skills that are necessary to continue with the design. 

Along with that, it will open doors to many opportunities and experiences. You will be contributing to the impactful projects within the company and have an opportunity to see those benefits happen. 

One of the most important aspects is the connections with other UX professionals with differing backgrounds in the field. 

While there are many benefits to you, an internship experience should be mutually beneficial for both parties!

Careers as a UX Designer

Desk with a laptop propped up and with a tablet drawing out UX designs.
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

If you secure a UX internship and find that it is the career path for you, you may consider being a full-time user experience designer! 

A UX Designer is some who works on products and technology to make them accessible, enjoyable, and focus on usability. 

Tasks that UX designers do are: conduct user research, create user personas, create prototypes, and conduct user testing.

To learn more about interviews, resumes, and more regarding internships, read the Scholars blog and tune into The Internship Show!

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Join The Community

Want early access to insights, content, and news about your dream employer? Join our community! We send one email per week so we won't clutter your inbox.

Congrats! You've taken the step to gain early access to information about your dream employers.

The Report Card: January 2021

Download this month's employer branding report to keep your company up to date.

Enjoy the news!

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