On a warm summer night in 2012, I received an email: “Congratulations! You’ve been chosen to be part of our Autumn internship program.” In a state of shock, I ran downstairs to break the news to my parents. My mom was already asleep, so I tried to wake her: “Mom, wake up! I did it! I’m going to San Francisco!” She replied in a muffled tone: “Okay, don’t forget your keys, take care,” and continued sleeping.

Interning in San Francisco, at a now IBM owned company, has been a longtime dream of mine. I was so happy to nail the application process. Now, eight years later, as a senior UX designer, I’ve already experienced the other side of the equation as well. I have been involved in hiring new members and interns to our design team. In this article, I will share all my personal learnings on how to score your dream UX design internship.

When to start applying for UX internships?

The application process for my internship took almost 4 months. I had several interview rounds and many example tasks during the selection process. Generally, scoring an internship in this field takes a good while, so you have to start preparing early. I recommend you to start searching and applying way before you are planning to begin a UX design internship.

How early is ‘early’ exactly? Start at least half a year or sooner before your desired starting date. So, if you are planning to land an internship position in the autumn of 2020, you should start looking for spots at the end of February at the latest.

Where to find UX internships?

There are many UX design internship positions posted online. You can search on niche job boards, like Cofolios, UX Jobs, or Indeed. Furthermore, you should scan social media like LinkedIn or Dribble. If you are looking for internships in a specific city or region, you can enter Facebook groups for local UX designers and ask around.

If you have a dream company in mind, you should try sending them a targeted email. Even better, you should connect with their HR professionals on LinkedIn and drop them a message. It is very flattering to a company when young professionals are planning their careers around them. If you want to make sure that you land your dream internship, a recommendation will be your golden ticket. Ask around your network to see whether you have a connection to your dream company.

Still, I would recommend you to focus more on places with dedicated internship programs. Not only because of chances but also because it means that they have already established a proper environment for interns (mentors, processes and specific tasks). When there is an established UX design internship program, you can learn and benefit more, in a way more structured fashion.


How to find the best UX design internship for you?

Well, the answer depends mainly on you! Honestly, it is very difficult to choose the best from different companies while looking at them from the outside. But there are some aspects which you can certainly consider:

1. Company profile

Company profile is crucial when it comes to choosing your internship position. In most cases you can choose between product-based and service-based companies:

  • Product-based companies build products (duh), they usually own the complete product cycle and have an in house workforce. They usually have their own developers, design processes. Ideally, multidisciplinary teams work closely together and they are driven by their users.
  • Service-based companies build software for other companies (clients). They have their own design methods and processes, but they are mostly driven by their clients’ needs, expectations, and deadlines.

If you want to work in a fast-paced environment and try yourself out on different projects service-based companies are your best bet. If you aim to submerge in the details of one product or industry, a product team may be a better place for you.

2. Industry

If you have a strong focus and passion towards an industry or a domain, choose a company from that space (eg. medicine, fintech, NGOs). This way you will get an opportunity to follow your interest and you will be able to build up an industry-specific portfolio that will help you later on, to get even better positions in that specific area.

3. Design team

I recommend you to stalk some of the designers and the design team of your preferred company. Find their work and portfolios. If the company is filled with great designers and has a great design team you will be in good hands. On top of learning from the team, you should also build a strong professional network, that can help you throughout your UX career.

Not only can you learn from the team, but you will also build a strong network, that can help you throughout your UX career.

4. Location

When I received the results of my internship applications I had to choose between two positions. One of them – a streaming company called Ustream – was located in San Francisco. While the other one was LogMein – providing secure cloud services for big companies – headquartered in Boston.

I seriously had no idea which one to choose. In the end I ended up choosing Ustream, mostly because of the location, San Francisco. I found it super interesting and attractive to be close to the bubbling startup scene of Silicon Valley. The decision felt a bit unprofessional back then, but now I realize that it is a-okay to consider the location when choosing an internship or job.

Questions you can ask yourself when thinking about the location of a UX design internship position:

  • What is the cost of living there? Am I going to be able to pay the rent in that specific area?
  • Do I speak the local language? Will I be able to communicate in a professional environment?
  • Am I interested in the culture, environment, and lifestyle of that area?
  • Do I have family, friends, or connections there?

5. Money

If you have urgent financial needs to be taken care of, there is no shame in choosing the highest paying company. Really, it’s only a matter of priorities. But if you have the privilege to not focus on money choose the place which is the best for your professional progress, the one that will look best in your resume.

Some companies think they can employ interns for no or very low payment, only in exchange for the “experience”. If you have to work for free, make sure that it is labeled voluntary work. Don’t be fooled: an internship is real work, and you shouldn’t work for free. Your work and time as an intern is just as important and as real as anyone else’s at a company.

Preparing for the application

What are the basic requirements?

In most cases, you have to actively study design at a college or university to be considered for internship programs. But there are always programs and companies that aren’t interested in your educational background. Furthermore, you need to show at least some UX related work experience, even if only nominal projects.

How to write a cover letter for a UX design internship?

You might be asked to submit 2 things with your application for a UX design internship: a cover letter and a portfolio. First of all, take the time to personalize your cover letter for each company you are applying for. A generic cover letter, without anything related to the company or position, makes for an awful first impression.

Even the tone of your letter might be different if you are applying at a startup or a legacy company. Take the time to review the copy of the posting and the copy on the company’s site to gather a general idea of the tone you should use.

Next, you should make sure that you mention the company and the exact position you are applying for. When you are writing about relevant experience, coursework, and skills, you should always think of keywords. Usually, you can find these keywords in the job posting itself. On top of detailing how awesome you are, explain what you want and could learn from the internship. Finally, ask your friends or family to review your cover letter before sending it.

How to build up your UX intern portfolio?

UX Folio - UX Portfolio Builder Tool“>

Put real projects in the front

I know, it’s always very hard to find projects and build up a decent first portfolio as a student who doesn’t have real working experience. It’s always easier to create or re-design some projects on your own. But if you can, try to show real-life projects too. If you had a school project, freelance, or sponsored studio project, put in first and emphasize the real-world challenges it presented and how it helped you to grow professionally.

Less is more

Recruiters don’t have time to scroll through all the projects you have ever done and search for the best. Do it for them! Curating your own work lets you keep control of your image. Create three or four great case studies, include one-two real-life projects and you’re good to go.

Show how you think

You have to highlight the process and methodology you used throughout your works. Point out how you tackled the professional problems of a project, what methodology did you use and why. This will create an aura of credibility and professionalism.

These are the very basic tips I can give you, but in case you want to read more about how to build up a great portfolio, you can find more UX designer portfolio tips here.

How to prepare for UX internship interviews?

Know your projects inside-out

Know all the little details of all of the projects you show in your portfolio! Think about why you made certain decisions in that project. If there are some decisions that weren’t based on real professional methods or research, do not make up a process! You can just admit that other, external issues (eg. time pressure, stakeholders, etc.) influenced them. It’s totally fine; that is life and no design work is done in a vacuum. Accepting these facts and sharing them honestly with your interviewer is what makes you appear professionally experienced.

Talk about how you think and work

Let your interviewers know about your thought processes, tools, and working methods. This is something you already have to show in your portfolio but in the interview, you have to be prepared to talk about how you think, how you approach a design problem or why you made certain design decisions in your projects.

Tell them how you collaborate

Collaboration is an integral part of the UX design process, and you will be expected to talk about how you work with others. Try to think through projects or situations where you faced a challenge in communication and tell how you solved the situation (eg. talking to stakeholders, working together with developers). You can also mention examples when you actually didn’t succeed at all and reflect on how you would approach the situation now.

People standing in front of a table that has post-its on it.“>

Be honest and show a bit of your personality

Above all, don’t be shy: let your interviewer know what makes you an asset to the company. Why are you different than everyone else? Leverage your unique insights and talents, but never show off, or look too egoistic. A good strategy to avoid looking self-consumed is to always give credit to those who have helped you and to also talk about the work that went into becoming the best in something.

Professional UX design challenge

Usually, the point of a professional design exercise is not whether someone can get the answer right. It’s to see how people think! That’s why some of the big companies’ design challenges don’t have a solution at all: the best way to keep people thinking is to invent a problem that’s impossible to solve. So don’t freak out if you feel that you can’t find a proper solution or don’t have enough time for the task. Do your best to show how you think and how you function under pressure.

If you have an online task, try to prioritize the steps or methods you are planning to use during the exercise. Don’t overdo it, or stick to one part of your process. Leave enough time for yourself to develop the final design at the end. 

Yay, you nailed it! Now, what to expect during an UX design internship?

Real work vs. school projects

Design institutes usually expect you to apply your theoretical learnings, methods, and processes. In case of educational mock projects, you usually don’t have to deal with clients, technical constraints or conflicts within your team. You don’t have to convince your boss about a usability problem, teach your client about design or push through an idea on a hierarchical decision maker system. 

When you start your internship you can experience all the real constraints and challenges of design work. At first it can be intimidating, but you have to learn how to manage people and how to survive and thrive in different systems and work environments in order to become a successful designer.

You might not work on the most important thing in the world first

As an intern you might not be delegated the most important task in the company. At Ustream one of my biggest projects was to create a character illustration for one of the onboarding animations (I had to draw a Yeti). At first I felt a bit disappointed since I was expecting to work on the interface but I quickly accepted my task and jumped right into it.

During my project, I learned a lot about presenting your design in front of a group of people even if it’s “just an illustration of a Yeti.” So don’t worry if you aren’t changing the world as an intern at first. You will certainly learn something new during the process.

As an intern at IBM, design leader Paul Boag was handed down ‘the Web’ by senior designers who “turned their noses up at it in disgust because at the time it had no design.”

If you don’t kickstart your career, you can certainly kickstart your portfolio

Every intern secretly hopes to get a job offer after their internship. Do not worry! If you don’t get a job offer right away after you finish yours. It does not mean that you aren’t good enough. They just probably don’t need any additional, full-time UX designers at the moment. What you should focus on is to properly document your work and have a great case study in your portfolio after your internship is finished. This can help you to get the job of your dreams after you finish your studies.

Build your UX intern portfolio with is a complete UX portfolio solution, built by designers for designers. With our platform, you can save time and energy building your portfolio home page and case studies. provides sleek templates, thumbnail generator, UX-specific case study sections, downloadable templates, and text ideas. Our review features will allow you to collect valuable feedback from fellow UXers before sending out your portfolio with UX design internship applications. Try for free or choose between our Standard and Premium plans!


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・5 min read

As a startup founder, one of the most common questions I’m asked is:

How can you do both design and development, as well as business tasks?

I’m an iOS & macOS developer first, having been coding since I was 13 y.o. However, currently, I’m doing all the design tasks for my startup — Flawless App. It’s a tool for iOS developers to compare original designs with the real app in Xcode’s iOS simulator. So I do UX research, website mockups, onboarding screens, ads, emails, presentations, and many other design-related things. 😱

A long time ago, we did have two brilliant designers working with us but unfortunately, it didn’t work out for many reasons. Therefore, I decided to learn the basics of UX design back then. I didn’t expect to become a UX and UI magician or usability research expert overnight. Rather I wanted to develop the essential skill-set for creating designs fast and efficiently enough to make users happy.

So, can a developer learn UX and UI design?

Well yes, we can learn anything we want. To help you get started, I will share some resources that helped me at the beginning of my journey: books, case studies, and tutorials.

Get the taste of design thinking

Everything in the world around us is designed by somebody. You sit on a chair, that somebody designed. You work on the laptop, where every corner has a reason to be that specific shape. You read Medium, which has a UI that was crafted by a team of designers. Every element of the real or virtual world was designed to make you carry out a specific action.

My dive into design started with the following classical articles and books. They will teach you to focus on design as a method of solving problems:

📕 Dieter Rams: 10 principles for good design

I wasn’t even born when Dieter Rams, German iconic industrial designer, wrote this. It’s a manifesto of design mission for any product or service.

Read every line carefully. Does your design meet those principles? Dieter Rams is 85 now and he is the man, who designed Braun coffeemaker, shaver, stereo, calculator, speakers, alarm clock, Oral-B toothbrush and many more.

Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That’s its role.

– Dieter Rams

📕 “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman.

It’s so popular, that you can even find Swift talk about clean code and API design articles based on ideas from this book!

The book covers design methodologies, basic psychological concepts, and usability. Norman deals mostly with the design of physical objects. He explores what makes the use of buildings, appliances, and technology easy or complicated. Norman shows the basic patterns, which are very well applied to the virtual touch screen of today’s UIs.

Originally the book was published in 1988. If you decide to read the first edition, you’ll find a lot of ancient tech stuff there (I loved it!). Back then, Norman predicted the success of iPads, tablet devices, and smartphones. You can also find updated versions, as Norman constantly adds to it. Alternatively, check out this brief Udacity course, “Intro to the Design of Everyday Things with Norman”.

Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible.

― Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

📕 “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People” by Susan Weinschenk

This is a light overview read of neuroscience and behavioral psychology from a designer’s perspective. The book is divided into short chapters about how people see, read, remember, think, feel and form mental models. I found many new insights there! It’s relatively fresh (2011), well-written and contains practical advice on using these 100 principles in your designs. However, reserve the time for research after reading the book.

📕 Last but not least is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug

It is an easy read with a focus on a common-sense approach to web usability. Some of the stuff may be obvious or also found published around different UX blogs (the book was republished & updated in 2013). But if you are a total newbie, you will enjoy it. You can read it in over a weekend or two, as Krug’s writing style is really enjoyable!

Don’t make me think. Make things obvious and self-evident, or at least self-explanatory. People scan; they don’t read. People choose the first reasonable option. People muddle through things rather than figure them out.

― Steve Krug’s Laws of Usability

Do you wish to learn more on how to hack a user’s brain with a product design? Then I strongly recommend you read these articles too:

The design process starts with a good understanding of people and their needs. Overall, this was just a small collection of excellent resources, which you can use to understand the design before drawing your first UI. I will come back to you in a few weeks with the next part of this guide. Thanks for reading and happy learning!

There’s no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times.

– Jonathan Ive

Special thanks to our friends & great designers, Alex Kukharenko and Anton Diatlov, for giving useful advice on our guide.

ahmed_sulaiman profile

Ahmed Sulaiman

iOS & macOS engineer, a functional UI designer and founder of


Posters are an excellent tool for advertising and marketing your product. From clothing brands to jewelry products and even local businesses have started using posters for marketing their products. Previously, poster design used to be perceived as limited to just movies. For movies, though there are many platforms available today for marketing and promoting their movie, movie posters stand out to be the best option.

This is because movie posters have the power of delivering essential messages in the most creative and fun manner possible. There’s much creative freedom for designers to experiment with so that the movie is promoted in the best way.  Though there is no one particular method to poster design, there are specific guidelines or tricks that almost all movie posters tend to follow.

Some of the important guidelines for designing a movie poster are as follows:

1. Preparing for the process:

Preparing for the process- Movie Poster Design

For getting started designing a movie poster, you need first to identify and be clear about what you’re creating. Here you need to communicate well with the movie’s team as to what the movie is all about. You probably should get a brief idea about the story, the crux, and the unique elements.

Talking to different teams like direction, action, v.f.x. would help you gain a holistic perspective on the movie and give you more tools to play around with. The foremost thing you should identify is the target audience for the movie.  There are many instances of movies where the story might feel like it is targeted to children; however, it would be more specific towards adults and children would even not be allowed to watch that movie. For this, you need to understand the plot clearly and design the movie poster as per the target audience for effective communication.

2. Decide on the budget:

Deciding the Budget- Movie Poster Design

Movie posters can be expensive to design. You also need to ensure that the poster is spread across multiple locations for more visibility and awareness. Depending on the budget given to you for movie posters, you should consider a few elements and economic decisions.

Depending on the number of prints, you should be able to decide what material and what ink should be used for printing the poster. An excellent way to set a budget is to consider the overall budget and divide it by the required number of prints. This gives an estimate of the cost for each print.  This helps save much time and back and forth with the client. It also ensures you don’t waste your resources.

3.  Identifiable from a distance:

This is something designers often have a problem with. They usually don’t visualize the fact that their poster is going to go up a much larger canvas than their computer screens.  Hence the size and proportions they see on their screen don’t help them visualize it on a larger canvas.

Now you can have fine text on the poster, for most content like legal information and casting if you wish to include those would come in the fine text. However, the main headline should always be written in a way that it is easily visible and legible from a considerable distance as well.  Using the visual flow, you can set the hierarchy of the content available.

Movie posters are generally used for print and are on hoardings. As a result, the average time people get to see and absorb information from it hardly seconds. It becomes essential to engage them for that short span of time by giving away the central message of the poster most attractively and appealingly.  You could either do this by placing large text or using graphics or any other element that is distinct to the product and yet relevant enough to create a direct relationship.  For instance, the image above shows a poster by Apple where there is a large silhouette of a character holding an iPod.

4. Context-based designing:

Context Based Designing- Movie Poster Design

This is very crucial when designing a movie poster. You need to keep in mind where the movie poster is going to be displayed. There are various factors that role in for designing as per the context of place. If the movie poster is going to be against a white wall, designers know they need to use contrasting colours for the movie poster to stand out.  The idea is to keep the poster distinct from the background.

5. Figure out your Target Audience:

Identify target audience- Movie Poster Design

Designing is a subjective practice. Each designer has their perceptions of excellent designs and bad designs. However, a designer must keep personal bias away when designing a movie poster, and keep it as close to the target audience’s characteristics and likings as possible.

An excellent example of this is how when you think of a Disney movie, you are reminded of Lions, from Lion King. The designers of that movie poster use two lions to recreate the nostalgia attached with this movie, instead of substantial text. This would cater to the nostalgia in anyone familiar with the movie and would encourage them to see it.

6. Smartly playing with typography and colors:

Design Elements- Color and Typography

As a designer, you get the creative freedom to experiment with different design elements. However, it should be done strategically. Colors have an extreme visual power to speak volumes about design in a first glance. Hence color selection should be well thought of. Each color signifies or reflects certain emotion, like yellow, represents warmth, comfort, whereas green shows trust, credibility and more.

When we talk about typography, it also plays an essential role in forming a positive or negative opinion about the movie poster. Typography acts as a method of putting across the true story and relevance of the font used to the audience. A bad typography selection would not only look aesthetically bad, but it could also mislead people away from the movie’s actual story.  Any typography material needs to direct the audience’s attention to the important parts of the poster and move their eyes in a visual and contextual hierarchy.

7. Brand Memory Retention:

Star Wars Poster- Brand Memory Retention

Any movie is a brand in itself, especially movies with sequels. There is always one important scene, prop, character or any other element in the movie that holds the potential to single-handedly summarize the entire movie. You can be creative with your design practices for movie posters; however, if you don’t include a memory retention element, people would quickly forget about your movie.

An excellent example of this is Star Wars. Notice how each of their posters has repeated use of lightsabers that are essential weapons that are used throughout the franchise. The design element is different for each poster; however since they have the same design element along with the branding typeface of star wars, it looks like in synergy and calls for immediate retention.

8. Use space wisely:

Use space wisely

Generally, when designers design any poster, they scale and space them as per how it looks to them on their screen. Since movie posters are huge, they are often viewed from a distance. For this, it’s best to keep the space between different elements like icons, text and also illustrations or images a little exaggerated.

This might look wrong when you’re designing the poster on your screen, for which you should always step back to get a better idea of the overall design from a further perspective. If you optimize the elements for space, your movie poster would be easier to read, and also more visually appealing.

9. Short and Simple Design Style:

short and simple design- movie poster design

For any design requirement,  short and straightforward design is generally appreciated. Any movie poster that is all over the place would throw people off. It would be too disruptive and difficult to follow to understand the message, mainly since people generally glance at a movie poster in a moving vehicle most of the times.

This would lead to inefficient delivery of the message and would fail the purpose of the activity. Generally, designers tend to use a lot of elaborate elements, which could lead to the audience getting overwhelmed by design, and lose focus on the key message. Generally, minimal, clean and limited design element using movie posters stands out and gets the message delivered better.

10. Importance of supportive text:

Get Out- Supportive Text- Movie Poster Design

Many movie posters can be designed with a minimal approach and using iconic images or illustrations to depict what the movie is all about. However, not every movie has a unique plot. Some movies need something extra to put a sense of mystery or add support to the movie’s plotline for it to make more sense to the potential audience.

An excellent example of this can be the movie “Get Out”. The name itself does give a rough idea as to how what the movie is about; however, it isn’t substantial enough to draw people’s attention into finding out what’s going on.  Hence the poster uses excellent collage of essential characters, and a supportive text above the name of the movie that reads ‘Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you’re welcome. This adds more context to the possibility of the storyline.

11. Using the best Design Tool that is best for you:

Requirement of the movie poster design and your level of expertise should be the factors you should consider. Hand-pick the right software for your designing needs.  Some online tools could help you create movie posters in no time; however, they often have limited flexibility. They are also repetitive as many designers could be using the same templates. As a result it would not give your poster any personality. If the movie you’re making the poster for is all right with all these setbacks, you could go ahead and use such tools as it would save you time, and them considerable money as well.

However, if you have a big project in hand, you should stick to professional software. Such software generally requires intense technical skills. However, it is worth investing in learning them. They provide unlimited creative freedom and options. As we all know, Photoshop works great for images and graphics or vectors; you can rely on Illustrations.

12. Creative freedom under set conventions:

Creative Freedom- Designing

Though there is no right and wrong to design, there is adequate and ineffective. While you should always push for new elements and new techniques of making a movie poster, there are certain set conventions as to how a movie poster should look like.

Deviating from this convention could result in misinterpretation of your movie poster design. It could either be considered as a novel or some other poster design. Hence it is essential to either stick to the set conventions or at least knows them. As a result, even if you deviate, it would be intentional, and you’d be aware of the possible repercussions.

13. Be genre-committed:

True to genre- movie poster design

One of the most critical factors of the movie your movie poster needs to convey to the audience is; it’s genre. You need to establish the movie into the specific genre it belongs to.  Not doing this could lead to two consequences. It could either lead to confusion amongst the audience as to what the genre is. Moreover, it could mislead them into believing it to be one, where it’s the other.

This can be detrimental to the movie’s health as a business.  Many people might not see the movie as they’d perceive a comedy movie to be a horror film because of the poster. Or worse, they might see a movie poster that looks funny and watch the movie. Only later to realize it’s a horror film. This would lead to disappointment and distrust by the audience, and the movie would be poorly reviewed. Horror and comedy cater to two different moods which should be enough explanation of why this would be bad for the film.

These were the 13 important points to keep in mind for designing a movie poster. Next time you have a client who wants to design a movie poster, keep these points in mind as they can act as an ultimate guide to movie poster design.

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