Give us a brief introduction to yourself and the company you’re at!
PM: I’m Prithika Mohan, a rising senior in ID. I’m focused on the application of design and technology to address issues of education, environment and social development.
I’m working at Chegg, an education-tech company, and they consider themselves the student hub. They began their company buying, selling, and renting textbooks. After a couple of years, they expanded to provide students with homework help, college search, scholarships, and internships. Their main focus is to change the way people learn and connect them to the necessary tools needed to succeed.
What drew you to intern at Chegg specifically? How did you end up there?
PM: I have always had an interest in education and I have worked with a lot of non-profits. I was curious to see what it was like to be in a tech company that’s trying to work towards creating a better education system. Chegg was the perfect bridge between my non-profit experience, design work at school, and the tech industry. I was also interested to see what it would be like to work in this industry but I wanted to make sure I was in a company that was focused on impact and change.
I understand that you’re also in the KPCB design fellowship program. How does that work? Is the internship at Chegg a part of that program or are they separate?
PM: Yes, I am. The fellows are employed at one of Kleiner Perkins portfolio companies and Chegg is one of those companies. The program is focused on gaining significant experience and developing new relationships between all the fellows and their companies. They hold a lot of events for us like having a private session with Mary Meeker (she did the internet trends report http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends) or meeting the head designers/engineers of other companies like Nest and Flipboard. It’s meant to add to the work you are doing at your company and also create a meaningful network.
Designing education seems very abstract and complex to me, is that how you feel as well? Do you think RISD ID has prepared you well?
PM: Education is very complex and difficult. There’s no one solution because everyone learns differently. I don’t know how much RISD has prepared me in terms of working with topics like this but I have learned to problem solve and work with users on their needs through RISD. I have also learned about various research methodologies and other topics from classes I have taken at Brown which has come in handy while working at Chegg.
So what do you do at Chegg? What’s your day like?
PM: My official title at Chegg is UX/product design intern but I do a lot of different things. I conduct research with our users such as focus groups, usability testing, and RPID (rapid prototyping iterative design) for our products. I work with designers and product managers to come up with solutions addressing user needs that we identified through testing. I work closely with designers on creating interfaces and experiences. Once the designs are finalized, I work with engineering to build the product. Basically, being part of the various steps in the design process – initial concepts, testing, iterative design, implementation. I have learned so much about working with different people especially with the product managers and developers.
What city are you living in? How has the experience been so far?
PM: I’m living in San Francisco and it’s been great so far. I really like it here and it keeps me busy!
What do you usually do after work? Are you dead by the evening?
PM: I usually get back and go to the gym or meet friends (sometimes). But, I’m pretty tired so I just hang out with my roommate and work on other stuff that I have to do.
Do you usually bring work home or are those personal projects?
PM: Both. Sometimes, I prep for research that I have to do the next day or work on my designs if I have to show it the next day. I usually end up working on my own projects and I have work to do for Better World (everyone should come this year, September 19th-21st).
Any interesting first day experiences at KPCB/Chegg?
PM: I was really scared initially but I was surprised by the culture and people at Chegg and KPCB. Everyone is from such different backgrounds and they’re all passionate about what they’re doing, it’s great! It’s really nice to see how people come together and how they approach the same problem.
What is the most memorable experience at Chegg so far?
PM: For my birthday, the design team stacked my entire desk with red cups, beer and champagne. The entire day was so great especially since it was just a week into my internship and they made it special. With KPCB, the day I met Matt Rogers [from Nest]. I died. I love him and meeting him made my summer!
What do you do/where do you go to get inspired?
PM: At my place in SF, there is a huge collection of books from design to history to business etc. There’s also this guy Dave Cuzner who is the editor of Grain Edit (http://grainedit.com/) and basically collects vintage books – a variety from special edition profiles on designers to mid-century children’s illustrated books. He sells them to designers around here. I also love traveling and a lot of my inspiration comes from going to new places and being in a different culture.
So besides education, is there anything else you’re currently obsessed with or very interested in?
PM: I’m really interested in exploring the intersection of the tech industry in addressing social development issues. Recently, I’ve been into journalism and the way the news is being portrayed.
How has this summer been rewarding for you?
PM: I have learned a lot this summer about myself and what kind of direction I want to head towards. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by such driven people and want to thank my roommate and all the people who have been here with me for some of the best memories I’ve had this summer!
Finally, any words of wisdom, announcements or professions of love for the RISD ID community?
PM: Make meaning through others!
COME TO BETTER WORLD BY DESIGN and follow DESINE-Lab