My first co-op term is almost over and I wanted to share useful lessons that I learned as a UI/UX Design intern at Weavik, Waterloo Canada.
First of all, I would like to begin this blog post by telling you a story of me looking for my internship. I started looking for my summer co-op placement in January. There were about 150 positions available on my school portal and only 6–10 positions for UI/UX Design. That’s when this tough journey started.
Thousands of applications, several job fairs, dozens of unanswered emails, and me not being able to get an answer for such a simple question: “What is wrong with me?”.
I was so tired of getting denial emails without any explanation (best case scenario).
I tried to work on my portfolio at my home office (my bed)
But you know what? I was not ready to give up. I kept applying, kept looking for any opportunities across Canada. Still nothing.
Then, COVID-19 decided to change this world’s plans. I’ve read so many LinkedIn posts about interns being laid off because of a global pandemic. It was pretty much reasonable: “Nobody cares about interns, people need to save their businesses from bankruptcy”.
I was truly devastated, but I still had the feeling that it was not the end and I will have an opportunity to win this long fight.
One day (one week after my official co-op start date), I saw a new posting on my school portal for “UI/UX Designer Intern” at Weavik. After making a small research, I felt like it was finally it. I applied without any hesitation.
To be honest, I had always been scared of phone interviews, I would have definitely preferred in-person ones, but it was impossible due to COVID-19.
For some reason, I decided not to prepare for the interview. And you know what? I had never had such an amazing interview before. I felt like it was a friendly conversation with someone, I knew. After a 30-minute talk, Dave Shak (CTO) said: “I have 2 news for you: one — bad and one — good. The bad news is that we won’t have another interview with you. The good news is that we’d like you to start with us as soon as possible”.
The next day, I signed the contract and started my co-op term as a UI/UX designer Intern at Weavik.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this internship. It was my first co-op term and I had never had a chance to work in a real industry environment. New team, new projects, new life. Virtual one, of course.
My workplace at the office
I couldn’t be more grateful for becoming a part of such an amazing and supportive team. Even though I still haven’t met some of my team members in-person, I feel like having a virtual internship wasn’t that bad and I was still able to improve both my personal and professional skills.
This work term came to an end very quickly and I really wanted to share some valuable lessons that I learned while working here at Weavik.
Are you passionate about what you’re doing? Show it to your employer! Ask him/her about additional tasks or any help from your side. Share your opinion and suggest new ways of solving problems. Remember, IT’S YOUR CHANCE TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW. Be open to any opportunities.
“People who show initiative demonstrate they can think for themselves and take action when necessary. It means using your head, and having the drive to achieve”.
You should never stop learning! Take any chance and don’t waste your time. Do you have a spare minute after your working day is over? Listen to some podcasts, read new books, watch YouTube videos, or chat with some professionals in your field. Co-op is a perfect time to learn and explore this world. Don’t wait for someone teaching you about something, do it yourself! Co-op is considered to be a part of the learning process, so don’t waste this opportunity.
Oh, yeah. You’ll probably have tons of questions, don’t be afraid to ask them! Don’t be afraid to look stupid! Nobody expects you to know everything and be an industry professional. It’s okay not to know everything, you’re just a student, please, remember it! I was so lucky to have a patient supervisor (Brian Haacke, COO of Weavik), who answered all of my questions and helped me to adapt to the new environment quickly.
Our daily scrum meeting with the team
“Push too hard, you burn out quickly”. I know, you probably want to work as much as possible. I totally get it! I was so excited to work, sometimes I just couldn’t stop myself. Is it 9 pm already? Am I still working? Let’s stop, honey, go get some rest. One day, I realized that I’ve lost my work-life balance. I put too much attention on my work and completely forgot about my basic lifestyle, which wasn’t cool. Try to enjoy your life besides your work, it’s important.
Do you feel uncomfortable doing something? Is it too much pressure for you? Are you overwhelmed with your tasks? Speak out. Believe me, all employers and supervisors were in the same shoes. Nobody will make you do something, you don’t want to (I hope so). I’m sure your employers will be ready to provide additional help to you if you need it. You aren’t alone on this battlefield.
I know your school will probably do it for you, but I would say that it’s crucial to ask for feedback by yourself. I would recommend doing an anonymous survey and let your employers and colleagues rate your skills and general experience working with you. It’s important to know your weak spots and work on them. Remember: “We never stop learning and improving our skills!”
That’s it! I guess these tips and tricks would be helpful for every intern/co-op student who is looking for new co-op opportunities or have just started their co-op term. I hope all of you will become successful professionals in your fields and make this world a better place! Good luck!
To sum up, I want to truly thank Weavik for this amazing work term, I hope, there is much more to come!