A few references from folks that I had the absolute pleasure of working with. These were my mentors who helped shape my design career and I'm so thankful to have crossed paths with them for a period of time.
Some are quite detailed and may help you get a sense for my design process from a different perspective.
I had the absolute pleasure of mentoring Melody during her internship this summer at Microsoft. Melody truly rose to the occasion in one of the most difficult and complex product spaces in the software industry and contributed significantly to the future vision of the division in her short time at Microsoft.
Melody did an incredible job absorbing and gaining understanding of not only the software development industry, but in absorbing huge amounts of background research, market research, analyst data and years of previous design work to become a proficient and immersed designer within a few weeks of starting.
The project Melody was working with me on required her to interact daily with peers who have been leading in their areas for 10-15 years and are all senior, principle and partner level engineers. Her tenacious work ethic and desire to contribute enabled Melody to not only sit at the table with such senior staff, but to actually lead them in design exercises and contribute a variety of design and research data to the group.
As her internship continued, I was able to let Melody become more and more autonomous in her work, with the last 4 weeks of her internship being almost completely self-driven, something rarely achieved by any Microsoft Intern. The feedback from my peers during and after her internship concluded were unanimously positive.
In the Developer Division Ux group at Microsoft, the most junior design hires are normally required to have 3-5 years of professional industry experience. I would direct hire Melody as a Ux designer at Microsoft in heartbeat. She has the combination of visual design, design thinking, research and entrepreneurial skills that I rarely see in the user experience design world
- Tyler Gibson, Senior UX Designer | Developer Division, Microsoft
I worked with Melody during her UX internship at Microsoft, and she impressed me with her proactive approach to the project, her confidence in her ideas and her ability to listen to feedback and adapt her work. Melody was thrown into the deep end on a project with a group of highly opinionated senior team members working on some deeply technical experiences (software diagnostic experiences). She was able to quickly get up to speed on the problem we were trying to solve and began contributing effectively almost immediately. She was able to lead the group on some ideating around user experiences and was able to discover key usability issues that we needed to address. Through the project she constantly pushed us forward by bringing new ideas and designs to the table. As we closed in on some ideas she led a paper-prototyping exercise with users to help drive some more design decisions, and finally ran a series of usability studies with users to fine tune the experience she was driving. She impressed me with he creativity, but even more so with her willingness to hear feedback and walk away from an idea if the feedback indicated the design wasn't the right one. Her drive and confidence well balanced with her creativity and flexibility. I highly recommend Melody to any team who needs a great UX partner, especially in a technical space.
- Doug Seven, Senior PM | Visual Studio Product Strategy
Melody I have been extremely impressed by the agility and adaptability you have demonstrated during your internship. In talking to Doug, your engineering team design partner, he also called this out as something that impressed him. We both feel you did an outstanding job of delivering against your commitments despite the fact that you were working on a project that was in a very formative and rapidly evolving phase of its lifecycle.
Working in the formative or conceptual stage of a designs evolution can be both exciting and paralyzing at the same time. For me it is the most enjoyable phase of the design process but, at times, also the most stressful. In contrast when you work on a project for which the definition of what is to be built is already in place and the task is to optimize or implement the design it can be less stressful but also potentially less rewarding. You handle the ambiguity of the early design phase you were involved in extremely well. You did not get thrown off balance as the project evolved substantially throughout the period you worked on it through both user and stakeholder feedback.
You also demonstrated very strong collaboration skills and the ability to work effectively on design problems where you were having to assimilate to subject matter as you were designing on the fly. You leaned effectively on internal subject matter experts and collaborated effectively with them to distill the domain insights that you need to move forward successfully on your design explorations. The strength of your collaboration and people skills also showed up in the strength of relationships that you built within our team. Team members like David Culbertson have invested in both your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your project. Getting others to want to invest in your personal and project success is yet another indicator of you strong collaboration skills. Good job!!!
You also demonstrated a strong user centered design ethic. You never became wed to ideas such that you became unduly focused on keeping the idea alive. Instead you showed a great willingness, even eagerness to pivot your design ideas based on user feedback. This is a huge plus in terms of truly embracing a user centered design as well as a “Lean Ux” build/measure/learn ethos. This is another area where rather than simply making a mental note of process ideas that were floated to you instead you jumped in and began learning by doing. I love the fact that you embraced the idea of “Lean” and began working to form testable “hypothesizes” etc and execute learning cycles around them.
Finally, you showed good initiative throughout you internship in terms of reaching out to others, getting on peoples calendars, getting in front the broader design team to get their feedback. The intern design competition you entered and in which you won second place is another good example of the initiative you showed. I am excited about prospects of having you join Microsoft as a fulltime hire in the future. There were numerous times during your internship that I mentioned an process approach you might consider taking and you just ran with it. I remember mentioning to you having found it valuable to create a gallery wall of prior objects to think with during the design process and as I glanced back in moments latter you and Tyler were already building it.
You have great potential as a designer and I look forward to staying in touch with you moving forward and having to opportunity to watch you grow within the profession.
- Monty Hammontree, Director of UX | Developer Division, Microsoft