4 Things That Surprised Me The Most When I Started My Internship(s)

I am an aspiring Product Designer, interning for two companies. Here’s a list that’s fresh, accurate, and probably relevant to you. No list slide shows, guaranteed.

1. Drowning in emails. This surprised me the most. I mean, come on, I get around 20 more than I usually do, everyday. I know industry veterans can vouch for over 50+ emails, but the fact of the matter is, that you will get more emails. Whether it’s access rights to MOZpoll results from Hotjarshare folder on Google Drive, you’ll get them all. We don’t really have choice: it’s very important that you keep your emails organized.

I’m still working on a way to do this effectively, but for now I recommend bookmarking all the emails that have sharing links (documents, folders, etc) in them. Emails with credentials and passwords I keep in a notebook, on a page dedicated to the many usernames and passwords.

2. 40% of your day is powered by meetings. Every weekday at 9AM at Backyard Brainsthe 2016 neuroscience interns have a daily meeting to show their progress (be it surgeries on snails, record neural activity of dragonflies, etc) from the previous day. It used to be that I was not a part of this, but lately my boss has asked me to provide an update of my progress as well.

I like this addition, because not only does my boss gets reminded of the status quo of the “marketing” (this includes me) interns, it also helps me recognize clearly what my next steps are. It’s nice to see day by day, that I am making a difference (and doing my job, of course). I treat the mini presentations as a small form of public speaking (in this case, my audience are current and future scientists).

As a person always trying to find ways to improve articulation, this nice addition is good practice. Now I have a small daily goal to speak in a way that fosters understanding from my audience.

3. You’ll need a notebook with you, all the time. I’ve always had a predilection for notebooks, so I might be biased here. But hear me out. Where else am I going to put that one minuscule-but-surely-important-down-the-road detail? When your employer talks to you, don’t forget you’re held accountable for the tasks that you’ve been assigned, or the things that you need to remember. Write it down.

What do you mean I can't just drill into people's heads? #backyardbrains #ux #ui

A photo posted by Patricia Puno (@triciapuno) on Jun 16, 2016 at 8:57am PDT

If I asked something by my boss, the last thing I want to say is “I don’t remember” (though I have done this, and I feel terrible every time). At that point you’ve ran out of ammo. At least when you write things down, the chances of you remembering is higher. You may not know the answer to that question, but the response “I’ve got it written down somewhere, I’ll check back with you” if much better than the former.

4. 300% increase in number of browser tabs. I used to be very utilitarian and minimal on my browser tab usage. I am constantly checking to see if I need that tab open. This characteristic of mine crashed and burned in the light of recent weeks. And Google Drive’s obsession with creating a new tabs definitely does not help.

You’re in the middle of work and already have an ample amount of tabs opened (Google, Quora, Google Analytics and Google Drive +7) when your boss asks you a question about Google Ad words. Later in a bit your co-worker asks you to revise her blog post. Ten minutes later you check the company’s DropBox to download the base master file of the website. See how it can get out of hand?

This one is definitely the most difficult to find a probable answer for. Due to the spontaneity of circumstances in the workplace, it’s easy to to get lost in the forest of tabs. When you’re finished answering a question ready to get back to work, that first glance of the tabs is always the worst for me. It asks too many questions (“Where was I?”, “Where am I?”, “Where is it?”) and the hunt for the right tab is expensive in interaction costs.

These changes have surprised me indeed, but they’ve also delighted me. The changes are welcome, and the challenges are being answered to. While it’s important to recognize these, it’s equally important to respond to them in a way that is healthy and beneficial for you in the end.