Betina: Hi dear readers! Justine and I are working on the last of the FAQs (J: We’re taking our time because we really want to get it right. And also, we’re slightly busy hahaha. B: Yes, we do have lives.), but in the meantime we’ll be launching our new internship interview series this week!!
J: Unfortunately, we do not have any clue what to name this new series because Betina and I are not witty at all. “Real talk” is my favorite catchphrase when I’m about say something harshly honest. Sooo, we’re giving the chance to name it to one of you, dear readers! Turn in your best idea here about what to name the guest series, and if we like it, we’ll name it just that!
At this point, we’ve already told you a lot about our own internship experiences (which you can glean from here, here, here, here, here, and here), but the new problem is that you might think interning is just for a handful of people. That’s not true; interning is for everybody who wants to attempt it.
B: To prove that point, we are enlisting our many many other friends who either interned last summer, or are currently interning during the school year to write for this guest series. We think that you’ll be able to gain insight from hearing about different kinds of internship stories and hopefully, this will inspire you to intern early as well (if that’s your thing) 🙂
Every week, we’ll be featuring 2 (J: Still deciding on this though, so what do you think? More, less or is it the perfect number?) current or former interns on our blog to talk about their experiences and give their internship advice in their own words. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get really varied experiences and talk to people from different universities, year levels, and courses!
First up is Alexander Hans Collado Jr. aka Alexis, future Silicon Valley UX (J: aka User Experience for the uninitiated) expert.
Alexis is currently a sophomore from Ateneo taking up BS Management Information Systems with an impressive background. He’s a double valedictorian (both grade school and high school), has a full scholarship from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and was awarded the Gerry Roxas Leadership Award.
J: And he’s only 19.
B: Alexis won the Philippine Association of Junior I.T. Achiever’s web design contests in regional (1st place) and national levels (3rd place) and he founded User Experience Society, the first student UX organization in the Philippines in the summer between his freshman and sophomore year. Right now, he’s ‘helping to evangelize user experience to different universities and organizations.’
On top of all that, he’s a taekwondo black belt, was part of a band in high school (called Kufuji), and still has time for DoTA 2 and Fallout 4! (He also makes us look like slackers!)
J: I feel tired after reading all that hahahahuhuhu.
We sat down aka talked over FB chat with Alexis, who interned last summer at Jump Digital Inc., a full-service independent digital agency as a UI/UX Designer. He logged in a total of 300 hours of full-time work from April-June 2015 aka those 2 months we all had nothing to do, thanks to calendar shift.
He’s also about to start interning at Freelancer.com as a UX designer from February-May 2016. Before he goes off to change the face of UX though, we caught up with him to ask a few questions about what his internship journey was like, what he’s learned from the startup scene, and what he wants to say to you, dear readers!
So, thanks for reading and hope he answered something useful for you! 😉
How did you find your internship? And why did you decide to join them?
There was an internship promotion from Create.ph back in December 2014 on their Facebook page. I was a big fan of their websites. I got to know them because they’ve always created the Graphika Manila website every year, and I’ve always wanted to join the much acclaimed conference. I sent an email, and got no response after weeks. Tried to give up just after one try, actually.
Incidentally, I saw from my co-GRLA awardee friend’s profile that he had a UI/UX design position at Jump Digital. I chatted him (his name is Aaron) and asked if they were accepting internships, even though they weren’t really posting about it. Aaron told me they did. I sent my resume and highlighted my experience as a creative (I was a Layout Editor of our school publication in 3rd year of high school, and I was always part of Creatives and Publicity committees with my stint as a National Executive Board officer for CMLI). After a few days, Aaron chatted to tell me that CSJ (the owner of Create.ph) was visiting. Turns out, Create.ph was actually acquired by Jump Digital and I was going to intern for the same boss haha! (crazy luck).
The take away here is to not be afraid of asking your friends of what you need. They will most likely be able to help you out.
Why did you decide to intern during the break?
I’m the type of person who doesn’t really want to waste time, especially during summers. It was the 5-month break and I wasn’t doing anything particularly productive, so I tried interning. I also wanted to learn about coding websites from scratch, so I decided an internship will help me best instead of learning it on my own (which is hard to do). That was the goal I had in mind.
It’s actually better to think about your goal before interning so you can make sure that the skills you’re learning will be aligned to that specific goal. It’s funny because CSJ asked why a freshman like me wasn’t enjoying my time at #LaBoracay :))
How was the experience of applying and interviewing for the internship?
Aaron told me to go to their office on Friday, April 10, 2015. It was a face-to-face interview. I dressed to impress and wore my confident self. I was very nervous when I got there because when I entered, everyone was sitting in a large table, then they were just looking at me. They were all wearing shirts, jeans, and jackets. I on the other hand looked like I was dressing up for a date, hahahaha. I sat down and waited to be called. Two people interviewed me. Kuya Loloy was a developer and asked me about my motivations for applying and asked me what exactly I wanted to learn. Sir Ritchie was kind of like the Chief Technology Officer and told me my credentials were enough. He asked me if I wanted to be part of the Create.ph department’s (UI/UX deparment) team. I gleefully said yes. He said I’ll start immediately the next Monday, April 13, 2015.
What were the skills you had when you applied? Did you pick up any new skills through your internship?
The position applied for involved designing online marketing promotions and digital products, so it’s safe to say that you should be comfortable with your graphic design skills. I learned more beyond fiddling with WordPress templates (because I was doing that since 2nd year high school). I actually sat beside frontend developers, project managers, copywriters, and got tutored by CSJ when it comes to designing websites. It was kind of a holistic environment. Plus, it was an advertising agency. You were supposed to be quick with the deadlines.
Some of the skills I learned included web design and development, user interface design, mobile UX design, version control using Git/Github, social media management, project management and Facebook application design.
What was your expectation for the internship? How did the actual experience compare?
I expected it was gonna be chill. People would be friendly, I would have a nice time learning front-end development. Oh boy, I didn’t know what I was signing up for.
If we were playing a game, I’ll just say that it was set to nightmare difficulty (the one after hard). I’ve experienced tough love and a lot of criticism for my own skills (which I know isn’t really that bad). My boss was the type of guy who would make sure you’d come out of the industry like an elite soldier, so you would have to go up the ranks.
The actual experience was enlightening, however. It exposed me to the industry really well and I would never trade it for anything else. Despite being humiliated and occasionally being anxious about myself, I came out strong, with a totally changed mindset. It was hell of an experience. I call it CSJ’s baptism of fire.
Before the internship, I was just someone who went with the flow. Just vague plans of starting my own company and such. I didn’t have something that I could call my passion. Right after, I was a different human being. I was more mature, more engrossed and specific with my goals, and basically became a one mean learning machine. Internships are capable of turning you into someone more mature, more informed, and more concerned with the path you are going to take in life. It makes you figure out your why.
What did you do during your internship? What kinds of tasks and projects were you given? Did you volunteer to take on a task yourself?
During day one, after my boss told me that I wasn’t exactly the type of developer he was looking for, he gave up and I was asked to find a simple design online and try coding it on my own. He was trying to mentor me at that point. He told me to code just a segment of a website. I coded the whole website instead, hahaha! He was impressed but he told me this, “in reality, you should have been able to finish that in 30 minutes.” I did it for a whole day.
Since my boss knew I wasn’t exactly an expert with code, I assumed a designer role instead and focused on my strengths and what I did know. I was tasked to create designs for local and international clients. Occasionally, I would be tasked to do front-end development (which just means turning your design into code). I took on a Facebook application coding project for Hyundai (oh God) and I learned how to use the box model in CSS the hard way. I also created branding material for the companies. During my stay, I loved doing web design the most. I did some designs for nonprofit organizations and was taught how to create an effective and streamlined user experience for the clients.
What would you say were the best parts about your internship?
My boss gave me a hi-five (apir) on May 18, 2015. That was the most fulfilling thing I ever got. (He was that intense.) Well, the best parts of my internship was really working collaboratively with other people. I learned the whole process of creating a website. From the client meeting, to sketching, wireframing, web designing, front-end development, back-end development, to quality assurance and project management, it doesn’t really get any better than that. People were always there to mentor you. I got to know very talented co-interns, and made a lot of friends. It exposed me to a variety of different people, processes, and systems. It prepared me for an industry and my future life as a professional, in allowing me to experience the job I want first-hand.
What would you say were the worst parts about your internship (or interning in general)?
The worst part was when I got into a fight with my teammate. I was too insistent on something I knew was right, but it was the expense of our relationship with each other. It taught me to respect other people and respect people above you, even though you’re right with what you’re clamoring for (it was a simple design decision). Other than the zero peso compensation, the learnings and experiences were worth it.
If you could go back in time to the first day of your internship, what is one piece of advice you would have given yourself?
Don’t overstay for your internship. Know when to leave. Know when to realize that you have learned everything that is to learn from that job. Also, never ever burn bridges. Always look after your relationships with people. Enjoy the experience and learn as much as you can from how wiser people than you think,create, handle problems, and how they approach life.
What would you say was your greatest learning from interning?
The greatest learning was to not be afraid of meeting new people and learning from them. The adage goes: “You are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with.” Thankfully, I was with people who know far more than I do. Internships are a lot like that, or espouses that kind of idea.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done while interning?
Writing code for an international car brand (Hyundai) I believe is something worth mentioning. It’s not every day that you get to have that kind of opportunity on an internship. Additionally, I did it only after around two weeks starting. At that point, I just learned how to do it recently (although it wasn’t done tastefully and was all spaghetti code).
What advice would you give anybody who wants/is about to start interning?
Just do it! You won’t regret it. As a student, unless you are also working, there is nothing more important to put on your resume than an internship. It has very high value. People in the United States do it normally for four times, once for every summer break. Why shouldn’t we?
Even if you think that you don’t have the skills yet to do the job, it really doesn’t matter once you get in. In reality, we all learn through experience, and there is no other time to do it but during internships, where you have nothing at stake but your own personal development. It all boils down to your own enthusiasm, how you want to achieve your long term goals, and how serious you are with what you want to accomplish in life.
BONUS: If you really want to get the most out of your internships, take them strategically. For example let’s say I want to get in the design industry. You’ll get one internship that will teach you graphic design. For the next one, you can progress to something more difficult, like illustration, or user interface design. For the next one, specialize on something, like let’s say, icon design or doing web design. For your last one, you might want to try out coding so you can actualize your designs. There aren’t really any rules to this, as long as you build on top of what you already know. Always take them progressively and aligned to your long-term goals.
This is your free space. Write whatever else you want to share with TBC’s readers!
Hi guys, you can never really go wrong with an internship. There are tons of options out there, and it’s all up to you to take these opportunities. You can do it. I’m 100% absolutely sure you can. Someone had to convince me before I actually tried to, and I wouldn’t be as robust with my skillset, goals, mindset, and activities right now if I hadn’t taken one. So, by all means, find a way to take one! I can help you. Just let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeting me at @alexiscollado or chat me up on Facebook. You can also visit my LinkedIn profile if you want to connect. I can openly share contacts with you if you’re interested in the product design industry or if you want to intern at a startup. Thank you so much for reading and getting to know a part of me. If you have a similar experience, please write about it and share what you know so more people would be aware. 🙂
We have to credit Betina and Justine for taking the initiative in helping people and sharing what they know. Thanks for inviting me to write and letting my voice be heard on your blog, and thank you for advocating our generation’s development through The Border Collective!
J: And there you have it, our very first guest post! Thank you again to Alexis for taking time out of his busy sched to write for us! And because he sent out his social media links, so will we! Because duh, contact us. Here’s my FB, Twitter and Instagram (same handle though), and LinkedIn. And if you don’t know my email yet, it’s email@example.com.
B: If you’d like us to feature somebody in particular (or yourself!), just use our Google Form to let us know! (Preferably send us a link to their FB profile/email address too so that we’re sure that we’re contacting the right person!) If you want to contact me directly, just shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
J: Up next on The Border Collective’s calendar are a slew of guest writers aka our beloved friends, a chance to intern at a startup via Youthhack aka a Betina solo post, and how you can be part of the 2016 batch of INKOMPASS interns, courtesy of me. Not to mention our regular Internship FAQ’s series which apparently will be going strong, thanks to you dear readers who showed us how much you do appreciate us!
For the new readers joining us only now, don’t forget to like The Border Collective’s FB page here to keep updated with the latest tips and tricks to getting an internship! (And if you wanna show your super support, invite all your friends to like us too so that more people learn about TBC and interning!) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @ChaiXingJun!
Thanks for reading and hope we answered something useful for you! 😀