10 Takeaways from 10 Weeks at Viget
Lauren Butler, Former User Experience Apprentice
How much can you really learn in 10 weeks?
When I accepted the offer to be a part of Viget’s Fall 2019 cohort of apprentices, I daydreamt of the things I would learn, the people I would meet, and how much time I would have to hone my UX skills in an agency setting. The moment I walked into Viget’s doors, I quickly realized that it was going to be a jam-packed 10 weeks, so I decided to write down everything I did and everyone I met every day.
Week 1: What was their name again?
There were 76 full-time Vigets when I started the apprenticeship. I was anxious to soak in as much knowledge, passion, and personalities as possible. I challenged myself to learn everyone’s names, so I put together a team Google Slides presentation. I excitedly shared this information with the team who informed me that, of course, there was already an app for that. Next thing I knew, I had an invite to join Folksy, an app designed to help new Vigets get to know the team. While it was great that I found a way to memorize names independently, I learned it’s important to share ideas with others to get feedback before moving forward with execution.
Week 2: You should ask ________ about that.
Progress, not perfection. Viget takes professional development seriously. I had exposure to a variety of knowledge from casual conversations in Slack to dedicated time with knowledge experts to learn about CAD software, research planning, consulting, Blockchain, how the web works, accessibility, concept mapping, and so much more. I was even able to embarrass myself with an impromptu speech in front of my fellow apprentices thanks to Zach Robbins, our Director of Business Development, and his class on presentations and public speaking.
Week 3: You want me to do what?
Viget gives apprentices exposure to real-world clients and problems. I joined a team to solve a client’s UX problem. Excited to prove myself (to both the team and myself), I took the opportunity and ran with it. I studied the problem; consulted with Jackson Fox, UX Director, on what I was thinking; and spoke with the developer on some possible solutions. We collectively decided which approaches to present to the client, then the project manager asked if I wanted to present my findings to the client. Uh, what? You trust me to do that? I’ve only been here for three weeks!
Week 4: CRUD is a beautiful word and Airtable is magical.
Shadowing allows you to show up to any meeting with zero expectations to absorb whatever is happening. I found success in keeping track of my team members’ calendars to find opportunities to learn. I noticed a UX team member was having a client “CRUD” meeting. I had to find out what CRUD (Create. Redo. Update. Delete) was and how it pertained to UX. I left the meeting both inspired about content strategy and amazed with this tool called Airtable. This tech was a great resource for organizing content, and I implemented into every facet of my life.
Week 5: TTT is Ttterrific.
I was fortunate enough to have my apprenticeship during the annual Fall TTT, which meant I had the opportunity to travel to meet the people I had been virtually connecting with! (Dear Reader, in case you didn’t know, Viget has three office locations. Twice a year, the full company comes together for an all-hands meeting, called TTT. Read about it here!) We spent the entire day together as a company learning and sharing with one another. We ended the day laughing and enjoying each other’s company over food and drinks, mini-golf, and a spontaneous trip to Wawa. This was the most extraordinary company tradition I’ve ever been a part of.
Week 6: How are we already halfway?
Coming off of the high that was TTT week and meeting everyone, reality started to sink in. I stopped to reflect on my experience so far. I referred back to the goals I had set for myself with my dedicated mentor. I realized I was much further along than I thought I was. I had embraced the culture, bonded with team members, and made great strides on my personal and client projects.
Week 7: Users almost never do what you think they’re going to do.
UX design is all about giving users the best experience. I went into my first round of user testing for my personal project feeling pretty prepared. The wireframes looked good, the tasks were well defined — what could go wrong? Turns out what I thought was the best solution was entirely useless for the users. I began to iterate on my solution referring to the users' insights and came up with something I never would have originally thought of.
Week 8: Resumes, cover letters, portfolios: Oh my!
I was given the most valuable resource possible as I started to create my job search materials: eyes. The recruiting team helped me perfect my résumé and reviewed all of my cover letters while the UX team took a fine-toothed comb to my portfolio. I was given real-time, honest feedback whenever I asked for it. Not only were my materials ready for applications, but I learned how to market myself and talk about my experiences. (If you’d like to see how it turned out, check out my portfolio!)
Week 9: Real-world ready
With all of my projects wrapped up and my job materials ready to go, I felt incredibly prepared to take on whatever comes next. I dedicated my time to client work and helping with any last-minute contributions I could. A new project was starting, so I had the opportunity to contribute with some discovery work and prepare user interview scripts and screeners ahead of the kickoff meeting.
Week 10: Do I have to say good-bye?
Just like those cheesy quotes say, “It’s never good-bye, only see you later.” In all seriousness, I have spent this last week reflecting on all of the people I have met and the opportunities I’ve been given. Viget is such a special place I’m so fortunate to have been a part of. The clients are top-notch, the work is exciting, but most importantly, the people are talented and passionate. I know I have built a solid foundation in UX while forming lasting relationships within my professional network.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what my fellow apprentices had to say:
“Being a part of the Viget Apprenticeship was the single best thing I could've done to bridge the gap between my design education and starting in a full-time role.”
“Spending 10 weeks in an environment like this has had tremendous value for me as a career-changer who came in with some of the basic skills of a PM, but needed to really learn the ins and outs of how to do this job."
“The work that I have done as an apprentice had a tremendous impact on my professional growth. This was a great environment to improve because I was staffed on a project and had other team members to work with.”
I’m so grateful for Viget. Because of their generosity and eagerness to teach, I’m leaving this apprenticeship well-rounded with a growing professional network and exposure to one of the most amazing companies and cultures I’ve ever been a part of. If you’re interested in applying for an apprenticeship, my best advice (besides do it!) is to fearlessly raise your hand to learn as much as you can, bribe your co-workers with cookies to get to know them (it worked for me), and take advantage of every opportunity Viget gives you. You have no idea how much you will grow in this program and how quickly 10 weeks will fly by.