Looking back and reflecting on the journey of our design intern Karishma Jain

Since February there has been a sudden change of direction for me. I had the feeling of standing at a railway station, where everyone was moving so fast. There was no time to be nervous! I could sense the positive spirit around me once I boarded the Startup Center train.

Starting as a UX designer at Startup Center helped me realise that we should embrace our struggle, embrace our differences, and be open to new opportunities.

On my first week of joining, I assisted with the design needs of Demo Day and with everything that was required to make Demo Day a success story, which indeed it was. This was a great chance for me to quickly learn about Startup Center, incorporate their vision, and build a relationship with everyone. Following the event I was impressed with the in depth follow up exchanging positive and negative points, our individual reflections, and collectively decided the next steps to improve both our and the attendees’ experience.

By mid-march, the global pandemic situation has hit the world and all of us were instructed to work from home. As I am people’s person, I would usually just walk to someone’s desk and ask them doubts rather than booking a meeting for every single query. But with the help of online tools and amazing support from the team members, we have been closely working with each other being  just one call away.

As a design team we brainstormed, discussed, reflected on our tasks and helped each other to grow. Our responsibility was to support startups and Startup Center staff with all the UX/UI design and service design needs. We started with the very first phase of design thinking principle- Empathy & understanding and conducted interviews with the startups.

The interviews were called as “Design is calling”. We interviewed the startups in a semi-structural format. The interviews were held online and focused on getting to knowing the startup, their current status, strategy in terms of business and design, their expectations from in-house designers, and also validating our idea about the Design Clinic.

We utilized this opportunity to validate three things:
1. Design related needs of the company at the moment.
2. Opportunity for Design Café, Design Clinic.
3. Opportunity for partnership with Tokyo (mentoring pool of students).


Lessons Learnt:

Continuous Engagement

During the quarantine, it was important to engage with our users by continuous interaction method. In our case, the design team had to support both startups and Aalto Startup Center staff.

We were therefore in constant contact via programs and activities such as design cafe, design clinic, survey emails, newsletters, and the digital community channel. We also sent an infographic describing our skills and competences so start-up got an overview of the design team. All these activities helped us to build a strong, confident, and trustworthy relationship with our users. The method has also aided us to improve our skills.


Design Thinking as a Service

After consulting with the advisors and the rest of the team, we started organising design cafe and design clinic sessions for our startups. Now, these projects were not the solution for all problems faced by them but it was a pretty effective channel to communicate with. Each session was targeted to solve a problem faced by a specific startup also making sure the sessions were interactive while keeping the audience engaged. We had peer-to-peer sessions, hands-on experience, and pep talk sessions too.
Overall, it has been great working with the startups and Aalto Startup Center team members. The work culture, positive vibes and support from all the team members, challenging yet interesting workis a plus point for all the designers who will join in the future Aalto Startup Center.