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I joined Somo in January as the UX Intern, part of the XD team in the London office. As my internship comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my time with Somo which has coincided with a global pandemic and the agency’s move to remote working during lockdown.
I joined Somo as a Fine Art graduate with no experience in the tech industry. I want to pursue a career in UX Design, where I can work creatively and thoughtfully while designing products that respond to the user and their needs. The digital side to UX was really exciting. Since completing a previous work placement in creative strategy for brand experiences, I’m excited by innovation and creativity across platforms.
From the get-go, I was welcomed with genuine trust and encouragement. It really is the people that makes Somo so special, creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This gave me the confidence to jump into work and share ideas early on. In my first few days, I was shadowing a senior UX designer working on a brand new project, then sitting in on client meetings and helping with user research. I also started a personal UX project to learn methods and processes. Members of my team guided me through, while people from every corner of the office volunteered as research participants in order to help.
Over the first few weeks, I had chats with members of each team so I could get to know all aspects of Somo and how it works as a business. There was opportunity to learn in every conversation, and I was welcomed to work on whatever I found interesting, not limited to UX design. Consequently, I worked with the research team on a significant amount of user research; in person focus groups and interviews; and remote interviews via Zoom with participants across Europe. By this time we were well into lockdown in the UK, and I wrote a piece with advice on conducting user interviews remotely, with tips on using Zoom, Invision and Miro, which was shared with Somo employees on Workplace.
The XD team has a stand-up every Tuesday, and Somo has a companywide stand-up every Wednesday, together with our offices in Bristol, Washington D.C., Charleston and Medellín. Stand-up was entirely new to me, but I found it helped my understanding of how the agency works as a global business and ensures Somo still feels like one big team, by knowing names and faces and keeping up to date with what everyone is up to across the world.
In March, we began working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was definitely an adjustment, especially as an intern - I had found a rhythm in finding new projects to help with by chatting, asking or offering to help in person while I spotted the opportunities. I also loved the social aspect of the office, whether a fundraiser ‘pub quiz’ in the office or a chat while grabbing a snack in the kitchen.
Nonetheless, remote working offered opportunities to learn in different ways and when I was put on furlough in April, I was adjusted and motivated to keep making the most of what was already a rewarding internship.
Somo supported me and my learning experience during furlough by funding courses I had chosen to take on: design thinking and human computer interaction, to build further on my UX knowledge. I also took this time to learn new design software, set myself a seven day UX design challenge, and create a portfolio showcasing my work. Although not what anyone would have expected at the start of the year, it has been a valuable part of my internship, consolidating what I have learnt through practice in the first three months.
Somo has been a wonderful start to my career; the supportive company culture is shared by everyone, and I am leaving with a lot more confidence, knowledge and direction than before. Thank you, Somo!