2017

The making of a Munich internship

Before heading out into the big bad world, we quizzed our Munich interns about their whirlwind 6 months as part of the IXDS team.
From the beginning of their journey, our interns are always quickly immersed in all things IXDS. Whether it’s getting their hands dirty with client work, or joining in on Thirsty Thursday drinks, our interns are very much part of the team. So when it’s time to say goodbye, we make sure we give them a proper send-off (this explains the header image), including hearing about what made their internship special. In this interview, our outgoing Munich interns Julia Scherzl and Simon Wünscher share their IXDS stories.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO IXDS?

 

Simon: During the last semester of my Information Design Bachelor program at the FH Joanneum Graz, I asked myself the question: Is it possible to combine an interesting internship abroad and write my bachelor thesis all in 6 months? As IXDS works on a 32-hour week, and on Fridays interns are free from regular client work to use their spare time and studio resources for their thesis projects, this was my perfect fit. That in addition to wanting to work with an agency that focuses on prototyping innovative products and services.

So I moved from a small village called Laska in Austria, which has about 50 inhabitants, a lot of nature, cows and sheep, to live in a new environment that allowed me to gain a new perspective on design. And not only would I get to work on my thesis — a board game based on creative emoji communication — I could also test it and get feedback from experienced designers. 

(Above image: Munich Intern Simon Wünscher working on a VUI project. )

Julia: I have a background in product design, and realized more and more that I am passionate about user research, so I was looking to gain more experience in a user-centered design approach. A friend of mine who worked at IXDS suggested I get in touch. I checked out the projects and activities, and I was particularly attracted to their concept of hubs (areas of focus) which were very new to me. This gave me a good first impression about their perspective on today’s relevant topics. As a foodie, I was also drawn to their projects about cooking and eating, such as the cooking experience use cases. Besides that, IXDS has a strong ability in qualitative user research, which would be great for me to learn more about service design, methods and mindsets.

WHAT WAS SPECIAL ABOUT IXDS FOR YOU?

 

Simon: Apart from the work — particularly the focus on prototyping — what’s special about IXDS is the people there. You can always ask questions and you can be sure that they will be answered. There are so many little pieces which make it a great, but overall it is the inspiring work atmosphere.

One office habit I really liked was the lunch roulette. Every two or three weeks you get teamed up with another person for a lunch date. This really helped to get to know different people who are working across different disciplines.  

Julia: When I thought about this question, I had to chuckle. It really is the open culture and the people. You feel welcome from the beginning, even the interior makes you feel at home. I especially liked the wooden cubes inside our big open studio in Munich, which act as little spaces for meetings or retreats.

Also, the events around our daily work allow you to have inspiring talks and discussions with the team — like Thirsty Thursdays. Then there’s also the constant inspiration we gain from the outside, with things like the monthly Pre-Work Talks. Additionally, I would say it is the 5th day at IXDS. Although we as interns have to work on that day, it gave me the unique possibility to have space for my own thoughts and to develop these into a learning project. 

For me, it was not only the exciting tasks, but also the human essence of the projects, like the interactions with the team members, that made it such a unique experience.

Julia Scherzl
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR LEVEL OF WORK?

 

Simon: Right after my first week, the IXDS Party in Munich took place. Most people had a lot of project work to do, so my first task was helping with the party preparation. This was perfect for getting to know the people, the office, and importantly, procedures at IXDS. And the party, which took place during the Munich Creative Business week, was really great!

When the party was over, I had time to look into which projects would fit my interests. After a while, I became part of a very interesting project about voice user interface (VUI). Over the four months of the project, I learned how to apply design to a relevant topic that was yet to be deeply explored. Although my focus was on interaction design, I gained valuable insights into a lot of new topics such as conceptual design, project management, service design, visual design, character design, user research, and designing a personality. 

Julia: I luckily started my first day together with Simon. At this time, it was MCBW (Munich Creative Business Week), and IXDS planned to host an amusement park themed party in the office. So we jumped directly into the preparation and organizational side of things. Sure, it is not what you expected when you start your internship, but it gave us time to settle down and get to know the office, workflow and people.

After this little landing period, I worked on several projects with different scopes during the six months. Within my biggest project we did a lot of user research which was very exciting for me. The time scope was just one and a half months, but the learnings were quite big. Our project covered several tasks like defining research questions and strategy, setting up and guiding an interview, and also synthesizing insights and creating opportunity areas. For me, it was not only the exciting tasks, but also the human essence of the projects, like the interactions with the team members, that made it such a unique experience.

WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST LEARNINGS AND TAKEAWAYS?

 

Simon: In regard to interaction design, I learned a lot about voice interfaces and how a user-centered design process works in practice. Next to that, I will never forget the optimistic work culture there. The insight that »everything can be seen as a prototype« will forever be in my mind after my time at IXDS.

Julia: In my mind, I already wrote down three general things on post-its.

  • Push yourself forward — think about your goals and jump over your shadow.
  • Trial and error — every time you have the chance to prototype, do it. Failures are learnings. So learn as much as you can. 
  • Be open minded — every person has something in mind that you don’t know.

And content wise, I learned a lot about service design methods and how different they can be. 

(Above picture: Julia gives presentation at her farewell party.)

WHAT’S NEXT?

 

Simon: After I wrap up my studio routines, I will jump straight back into student life again. But before I start my master degree program in interaction design, I first have to finish my bachelor degree. Since I finished my bachelor thesis during my internship, it’s merely a matter of form. And a big thanks to the people at IXDS! My bachelor thesis resulted in a very interesting board game, in which four players together plan how they can extricate their hometown from the adversarial agents. But the difficulty is that they are only allowed to communicate with emojis!

Julia: I will definitely follow a career in user-centered design. Gladly, the outcome of my 5th day project "Eating Alone" is worth pushing forward, so I decided to turn that into my focus for my bachelor degree. For this I explored human behavior while eating alone, with a special focus on places; e.g., in bed, on benches outside, and while carrying out side-activities in Munich. What else? I want to learn more about service design in a larger context. 

And from IXDS' side, a big thank you to Julia & Simon from all the team. We wish you all the best for your next steps! Also thanks to Mischka in Munich for conducting the interview!