Turning a goal into reality: Joining the Adobe Fresco team as an intern

Uyen Vicky Vo, Experience Design Intern for the Adobe Fresco team.

The year was 2000, and I was 9 years old. As a child, I always loved to doodle and, more often than not, most would find me playing around with my messy arts and crafts supplies. That year, I was lucky enough to be exposed to Adobe products for the first time. I still remember that moment clearly—it was like magic. It was my first time discovering how digital art worked and it was truly fascinating.

For a 9-year-old kid who couldn’t speak any English but was, nonetheless, still determined to teach herself how a program like Adobe Photoshop worked, it was genuinely a life-changing moment. After months of studying to self-learn how to design using Adobe products, I decided at a very early age that I wanted to become a designer, and I was determined to make it happen.

Fast forward to now, the year 2021. After years of dedication and hard work, here I am, in a totally different country as an immigrant and a first-generation college student. And I’m so proud to say that this month, I start at Adobe as an Experience Design Intern for the Adobe Fresco team.

So, how did I get here? It was definitely a circuitous route that was driven by persistence and passion. There were many people who have helped me during my career journey, and thus, I always look for ways to pay it forward. Therefore, I’d love to share some personal tips that assisted me in landing my internship at Adobe.

On standing out

This is a bit tricky, as there are no right answers to this. There are many ways to stand out, but research and finding what genuinely interests you is truly the way to go. In my case, I really enjoyed getting involved with the Design community. For the past few years, I’ve been extremely active on Linkedin, sharing ideas with the Design community. A year ago, the idea of running a non-profit came to mind, which led me to create and co-found Students of UXD, a community for UX students of all ages. By being active in the community, my name was floating around and was picked up by a recruiter at Adobe. That ultimately led me to getting a phone screen, an interview, and eventually an offer. Thus, find what truly interests you, set a goal, be patient, and go for it with zest and determination.

On “Tell us about yourself”

Though we know a lot about ourselves, we usually suck at talking about it. During the first initial phone interview or the first portfolio review session, we’re often asked to introduce ourselves. Instead of just telling them your name, your school, when you’re graduating, and what you’re studying, go deeper! What’s your goal? What’s your passion? What’s your story? Tell them a story that captures you and your journey. Every story is unique and because of that, it will definitely help you to stand out.

On portfolio review

Be confident, be honest, be vulnerable, be raw. During your portfolio review session, it’s a chance for you to really showcase your work and your skill. Instead of just stating mundane facts that “you did this” or “you did that”, always remember to mention the “why”. What drove you to have this idea? What inspires you? If you faced a challenge during your project, highlight it, be open about it, and tell them how you dealt with it. The point is not to be perfect, but to be real. Since time is limited, pick 2–3 case studies that really showcase your skills. In my case, besides walking the hiring managers through a full case study, I also threw in a short, non-traditional, personal case study about Accessibility Design that, according to them, was impressive. So, be selective in regards to what you will show, as it’s important to choose the ones that highlight your skills the most.

On connecting with your design managers

Before or during the interview, many students may forget that their hiring managers are human too. Remember, they have talked the talk, walked the walk, and they have gone through the journey just like you. Think of your hiring managers as your friends; this makes you less nervous and allows you to establish a better connection with them. Near the end of your interview, ask questions - a lot of questions. Don’t just ask about the culture of the company or the team. Get a little personal. Ask about how Adobe has helped them with their career growth as a designer, or how Adobe has helped with their work-life balance, and if there were or are any struggles they face in their career. Remember, the interview is a 2-way street. So, relax and enjoy the process.

These are just some of my personal tips, but the journey may look different for you. As you grow in your career, you might even pick up some tips and tricks that you find works best for you. If you’re passionate and determined about a career in design, you will surely get there, so remember to focus, work hard, and celebrate small wins. If you’re ever looking to chat or learn more about my experience at Adobe, please don’t hesitate to connect with me.