Design Education: Our Experience

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Three months ago we launched our education program. Today we are sharing our story and lessons learned. Enjoy!

Last month at Qubstudio we celebrated not only the end of 2017 but also the closure of our first UX/UI internship. During two months four interns mentored by our experts were discovering all the tricks and pitfalls of UX/UI design and applying new knowledge in the individual business projects. Want to learn more?

Start with “Why?”

Aiming to become one of the most professional design studios in Europe, we set quality bar for ourselves pretty high.  Most of the time we are open for new talents to join our team, but year after year it seems harder to find a UX/UI designers with the required expertise. This situation increased a number of independent educational courses, which might be a good start for beginners yet not always give them a necessary background with real projects. Without it, even a talented people could hardly find a job they will be satisfied with.

And it’s not only about teaching but about learning. Our internship program works both ways: it’s a knowledge sharing process where you automatically win by simply taking part. Albert Einstein says “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”, and we completely agree. No, our interns were not from elementary school, we have chosen the best ones. The point is that you only realize how good you are at something when you start explaining it to somebody else.

Who got his letter from Hogwarts?

After announcing our internship, we received lots of applications. We reviewed all of them and invited shortlisted applicants to the interview. According to the criteria list, we chose the best four candidates.Our focus lies beyond their previous experience. We also aimed to understand their motivation and commitment, as we knew it’s going to be no picnic.

We were searching for people, who already have a basic UX/UI understanding as well as some experience working with design tools, but what is most important — those who are passionate about design and see their future in this area. So, it doesn’t matter whether you are a muggle or a magician. Your persistence will not go unnoticed.

The decision to move forward with a rather small group – four interns — was caused by our willingness to provide them with all needed resources, make the process practical and close to real work and give as much attention to each candidate as it is possible.

Meet our mentors!

Each student got an opportunity to work closely with a personal mentor throughout the course. Mentors were involved in the early stage of candidate’s selection and testing. They prepared a curriculum and materials for interns to work on during the internship. The program was based on the typical project process we have at Qubstudio. It was done to simplify the introduction to the project and on the top of that — help to understand what is important in real work cases.

Four of our team members were assigned to the interns as their mentors, but it wasn’t a limitation. Other team members were involved into giving lectures, running workshops and consultations.
Mentors task was to guide interns through the project process, share knowledge and theoretical material, and — as the main goal — to motivate interns to solve the problems themselves, systemize and use their experience. Still, a significant challenge was not to overdo with control or foresee clients needs and requirements.

As for the mentors, they all were involved in ongoing projects, so it also was a chance to practice on time management and even more — to challenge their knowledge and presentation skills during this period.

As all the lectures were open, many Qubstudio team members enjoyed knowledge sharing with their colleagues as well.

All the theoretical and fundamental information was well-structured and tidied up from irrelevant or outdated states. Our main point was not to overload interns with dozens of materials and restrictions but to fill their knowledge gaps and teach them how to apply their skills in the right way.

As our mentors usually say: The best way to teach someone design that works, is to give them a sense of understanding how it works.

Education program

The internship program started with the UX Process basis. Our head of UX Design Department — Den — prepared an introductory lecture to familiarize interns with the cornerstones of any successful project.

The intensiveness of the internship raised up since they were also assigned to each particular project, which means any lesson they learned during the lecture had to be applied to the project right after they left the classroom.

During two months interns learned how to ask clients the right questions, how to investigate a market and understand a target audience, create concepts and customer journey maps, comprehend the importance of typography and branding. Thanks to Joanna they have even discovered what is sexy UI, and how to create it.

From our intern’s comments, we know that the most exciting lectures were “Brain Behavior,” “Storytelling in UX” and “Understanding the problem. Asking the right questions”. Moreover, as one of the interns mentioned, the in-house knowledge base give them an opportunity to access the business and psychological literature.

And don’t forget, it was a full-time work on the project. The theory without practice is just a waste of time. So take a look at the projects:

Mariana and Joanna were working on a mobile platform for those who like to spend time with friends;
Sofia and Katya created an expenses sharing system;
Nazar and Stepan – an online system to generate business cards;
Nick and Oksana – a platform for electric vehicles fans!

Motivation? Gamification!

One of the most noticeable advantages of internship at Qubstudio was a chance to work with a team of professionals. But with so many opportunities, how do you ensure equal conditions for everyone?

Qubons – the Qubstudio currency that was made to keep competition fair and square. How it works: when the intern shows a good performance on lectures or by accomplishing practical tasks — he or she were rewarded by qubons (acceptance criteria restrict the amount of reward). And when the intern needs the help of anyone from the team they have to pay for the advice with their qubons — so everyone is in the same boat. Also, with a weekly feedback from customers and project completion progress, evaluated within one clear scoring system, we have no trouble keeping track of everyone’s effort and progress.

Results

At the end of the internship, all the candidates were presenting their projects to Qubstudio members and most importantly to the client. They had only 20 minutes to tell the story of their product, its mission, target audience and how it was designed. We were really impressed by the work they’ve done and the quality of presentation!:)

Now it’s time, to sum up:
2 months of hard work;
4 different projects:
4 satisfied clients;
4 new professionals;
4 proud mentors, who are now even more motivated to share their skills and mastership with others.

And… two out four interns joined a Qubstudio team. Seems like an up-and-coming trend to us. And way to go!

Enjoy the final design!

 

GO TO-U: EV charging network app

Gastroli: social events app

The Dereban: cost splitting app

So, what’s next?

The results of this internship inspire us to set it on as a new tradition. And if you see yourself as a creative and passionate designer — here’s the good news: no need to wait! We are opening the second intake of our design internship, which is about to start in March. Apply here!

Are you a startup? You have clear understanding of your market, users and business goals, but could use help from professional design team to design or rethink your product?
Don’t miss this chance — drop us a line to participate in our program as a client!

By Nathalie Torbych nathalie

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