October 5, 2023

My Intern Experience: Nabilah J.

Hear from one of our summer interns, Nabilah, about her experience with CBK and how she translated her art background to UI/UX design.

By: Nabilah J.

In the Summer of 2023, I had the opportunity to intern with Coded By Kids, an organization that helps underrepresented youth in Philadelphia get exposure to the tech industry. Before this internship, I hardly knew anything about these spaces but I knew that they will become even more important in the future. I wanted to learn valuable skills that would help me not only in college, but in the workforce as well. As someone who is also interested in the arts and loves working with my creative side, I thought it would be interesting to see how art can be intertwined with technology and business. This is when I decided that I would apply to become a UI/UX designer intern.

Learning Design

UI/UX stands for User Interface and User Experience, and is the key component to designing websites and apps. User Interface design focuses on the aesthetics and heavily focuses on the layout, colors, and overall visuals. User experience focuses on the user’s perception of the product, and how comfortably can the user use the product. When these two elements come together, they create one of the key foundations in the creation of websites and apps.

At the beginning of the internship, I knew nothing about UI/UX design. Originally, I would try to focus on making the websites 'look pretty'. Because of my art background, I would use multiple colors and fonts to give the website an artistic flair. However, I realized that the websites, while appealing to the eye, were not practical to use, as it was too overwhelming for the user.

I was fortunate enough to have the UI/UX team be there to help me along the way! They helped me learn so much about the basic foundations of UI/UX, including how to add dimension to our product, the different ways to create a unique brand, and so much more! I also learned Figma - a software that allows us to create prototyped versions of our actual website. An unexpected skill that I learned is user research and user data collection. In order to create a captivating application, you first have to research your target audience, which was something I never would have thought a designer needed to do.

Learning Teamwork

Outside of UI/UX Design, I also learned so much about “thinking like a founder”. Through my amazing team, The Texas Rangers, we were able to create a website called The Philly Emissary. This website is targeted towards busy Philadelphians who don’t have time to check local politics. We also wanted more people to have a voice in their local government. In order to do that, we believed that there needs to be a platform where people can have easy access to what’s going on in Philadelphia.

We first contacted different people from different organizations who are involved in Philadelphia activism, including VietLead, Committee of Seventy, and even a Judge of Elections from City Hall. From this research, our team was able to highlight the main pain points these people faced. We used these pain points to help develop our main features.

One of our major features is a political map, which provides information about local representatives based on your location. It included contact information, office locations, basic political information, and some main things the politician did in office. To make our website more accessible, we also created a translation feature that translates the page into either Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, or Hindi, which are some of the most spoken languages by Non-English speakers in Philadelphia.

Creating this website was both fun and challenging. I loved how we were able to work on a project that we were passionate about, especially since it’s something that impacts us. However, we weren’t sure what direction we wanted to go, as we wanted to do a million different things at the same time.

Through the CBK team, we were able to equip ourselves with skills that would help us solve this problem. We learned how to ideate with our team, and use that to create a basic framework for what we wanted to do. We then used this framework to gather as much user data as we can. We then learned how we can apply the user data to our framework, before finally solidifying our features. We also learned how to create a pitch for our product, which included presenting our product to potential investors.

Learning Valuable Skills

I cannot emphasize enough how important this internship was to me. As someone who didn’t know anything about this sector, I was intimidated by this unknown territory. However, as I continued this internship, I realized how diverse and flexible the technology sphere is, and how intertwined it is to other industries. I was able to learn valuable skills that will help me as I continue my education and professional career. Even if I don’t do UI/UX design in the future, I can easily transfer these skills, like research and public speaking, to other career fields, regardless of what path that I choose.

The Tech & Innovation Internship gives high school and college students the opportunity to receive hands-on experience in a fast-paced, innovative startup environment, gaining valuable skills and the chance to make strategic connections in the tech and startup industries.

Thank you to our generous sponsors: Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Comcast NBCUniversal, Comic Relief, NBA Foundation, Capital One, Infinite Blue, SEI, Verizon, and Guru.

Interested in sponsoring the Tech & Innovation Internship or other Coded by Kids programs?

Reach out to our Development Team.

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