Exploring Product Design and Development

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Nancy Zhu, COL ’23

Thanks to Penn Career Services’ Summer Funding, this summer I had the opportunity to explore my interest in product design and development. I worked with a startup called Hera whose mission is to empower females to travel. As a female traveler, I had a personal connection with the mission of the startup. Penn Career Services’ Summer Funding gave me the ability to pursue this opportunity to explore my interests by financing my housing and food expenses during the summer. I am beyond grateful for the support that I received through the funding.

During my internship, I specifically worked on the design and development of the Hera webapp. I worked on building out and launching a minimal viable product. I was exposed to design fundamentals and UX/UI research. I learned how to use figma to translate the designs from my head into actual prototypes. It was fun learning how professionals integrate design principles and user research to influence the user’s experience. I explored color theory, layout, and prototyping. Designing my own vision of what the final webapp would look like was a fun way to utilize my creativity.

After designing the prototype, it was time to build. I learned about a code friendly platform called bubble that assists with building websites and apps. Although the learning curve was steep at first, it was interesting exploring all the features. Throughout the build process, it was interesting looking at how the designs I originally created on Figma were iterated and transformed. I found myself often going back to the drawing board and making tweeks to my original design to fit the features that Bubble offered. Having both the design and development background, I learned that iteration is key to building out a product. It is important to collaborate and have a strong tie between both sides to ultimately build a feasible web app. Developing the application was a learning experience that I hope to take with me into my future career.

In addition, working at a startup allowed me to have autonomy on my projects. Experiencing the startup culture was in itself an experience as I got to see the horizontal work culture of the group. In addition, working with other females who got just as excited as I did about travel was fun and exciting.

From this experience, I also got a better understanding of what opportunities I look forward to getting involved in the future. I learned that I value the people and work culture of a company. As someone who was lost about what career, let alone which industry I wanted to join in the future, this opportunity has allowed me to learn more about myself and what I value in a career. I am excited for the following summers to come and to explore other industries and work cultures.

As I finish my internship, I am grateful for the opportunity and it would not have been possible without the help of the Penn Career Services Summer Fund. Without the donors and university resources available, I could not have contributed to Hera’s web app project. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. Thank you!

It is clear that without a donor, I could not have contributed to most of the projects I have worked on, and I might not have been able to even accept the internship TRD offered. This highlights how grateful I am for the kind philanthropic spirit and strong devotion Penn Career Services and its donors have. Thanks to you, I have grown both professionally and personally, in ways which will define my future life decisions. Thank you.

By Career Services
Career Services