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That’s a Wrap: EPAM San Francisco’s 2018 Internship Program Comes to a Successful Close

Today, interns expect more. With a competitive job market that’s constantly evolving, gaining solid, real-world experience has turned from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must do.’ According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, the number of college graduates completing at least one internship has risen from less than 10% to over 80%. Quite simply, it’s essential that a graduate has professional experience and a relevant internship on their resume to give them a competitive advantage.

EPAM San Francisco recently completed our 2018 internship program, a six-week project with three interns who developed a mobile app prototype using AR technology from KitchenPlan for Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County. With a shared vision of making our environment more sustainable and improving people’s lives, we designed a virtual donations mobile app using AR, making it easy, fast and simple for people who want to donate their kitchen cabinets to a charitable cause. Two of our interns shared their experience working on this project. Let’s see what they had to say:

What did you study in school?

Haoyang Zhang: I just graduated this August from Academy of Art University with master’s degree in web design and new media.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: I recently graduated college and am now continuing my education at UC Berkeley Extension where I study user experience design.

What did you learn about EPAM that you didn’t know before you started your internship?

Haoyang Zhang: I knew EPAM was a software engineering and IT consulting company before I started my internship, but I didn’t know much about EPAM San Francisco. During my orientation, I learned that this studio is more focused on advanced technology, which was very exciting to me.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: The only thing I knew was that EPAM was a global provider of software engineering and IT consulting services and many employees were located in Belarus.

Can you tell us about what you did during your internship?

Haoyang Zhang: We had a chance to work with Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County and KitchenPlan to deliver a virtual donation app. We conducted multiple site visits to collaborate and learn about the project, and created personas, IA maps and wireframes. We were also lucky enough to collaborate with other designers in EPAM’s studio.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: I was a strategic design intern working in a cross-functional team of four. During this six-week program, our team was tasked with delivering a pilot mobile app that supports the virtual donations process at Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County’s ReStore. I participated in the full design process from design research, problem and vision statement creation, interaction design, visual design, and usability testing. I created click-through prototypes on Invision to facilitate usability tests, and to demonstrate the capability of the new design with clients and the design team.

What was your favorite part about the internship?

Haoyang Zhang: It was a pleasure. Our work benefitted from brainstorming with other interns, and Habitat and KitchenPlan were really understanding and helpful during these six weeks as well.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: My favorite part of the internship was that we had many opportunities to practice UX activities throughout the program. As a new UX designer just finishing school, it was such a valuable opportunity for me to apply what I learned from school to a real-world project. More importantly, my team and I constantly received helpful feedback on our work, as well as mentoring from designers in the studio. This was something I rarely got from school. With their help and guidance, I rapidly grew as a professional UX designer in a real-world environment.

What was it like working with other interns, EPAM customers and leaders during your internship?

Haoyang Zhang: It was a pleasure. Our work benefitted from brainstorming with other interns, and Habitat and KitchenPlan were really understanding and helpful during these six weeks as well.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: I enjoyed working with my peers, clients and the design team in the EPAM studio. They are a talented group with diverse points of view and are very open-minded, passionate and driven. My peers and I were treated as full-time professionals in the studio. I felt respected and comfortable when I worked with them.

How will you apply what you learned in your internship to your studies and career?

Haoyang Zhang: This internship definitely gave me a lot of memorable moments and valuable lessons. Now I understand how to solve a problem in a limited amount of time, and how to work with other designers and engineers.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: The most important things I took away from the EPAM internship was learning how to professionally fulfill tasks relevant to my desired career path and how to conduct effective communication in a team. After the internship was completed, I started to review and refine my own work by using the industry standard and professional perceptions I learned from my mentors. I also practiced the new communication and presentation skills I learned from leaders and designers at EPAM with my peers at school.

What advice do you have for other interns?

Haoyang Zhang: I will say this is one of the best experiences you can gain as an intern. If you see an opportunity like this, grab it. If you get the chance, cherish it. There might be tasks that seem so difficult – believe in yourself and rely on your team!

Jiahui (Kitty) He: Think as a team member and not as an individual. Speak up and share your ideas. Always be prepared. Be humble and learn how to seek help. Work toward your end goals with intention: prepare goals you want to achieve and the questions you want answers to at the start of the internship.

What’s next for you/what do you hope to do in the future?

Haoyang Zhang: I’m looking for other opportunities to explore my UI/UX skills. Hopefully in the near future when I’m ready, I could be an experience designer in a design studio like EPAM San Francisco.

Jiahui (Kitty) He: My next big goal is applying to graduate school. I want to pursue higher education in human/computer interaction in 2019. So, I am currently working on polishing my school work and internship work that I did with EPAM and submitting them as my application for the graduate programs. In the next three years, I see myself continuing to master the basis of user experience design and growing as a critical thinker and a creative designer through academics.

If you’re interested in any internship opportunities at EPAM, please visit our careers page. Stay tuned for more news about our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and KitchenPlan!