Mengxiao’s internship at Daimler China

Our second-year student Mengxiao Li spent last summer in Beijing, interning at the Advanced Design Center of Daimler, China. We were curious to hear about what she learned and what challenges she encountered.

  • Where did you do your internship and for how long?

I spent 5 months in the Advanced Design Center of Daimler China, Beijing.

  • How did you find the internship and how hard was the application process?

Every one or two years, Daimler China RD center opens numerous summer internship positions for students all over the world. With one year of work experience on UI in startup internet companies and a teamwork-based project collaborated with Roll-Royce Marine, I applied for the position UI/UX design trying to find out how traditional vehicle industry builds the connection with the emerging HMI and user experience. But for the application process, it’s kind of torturous. Since there was no reply after I submitted my portfolio online for almost a month, I went to their offline summer internship seminar at Tsinghua University, delivering my material in person. It turned out to be an effective way because I started my internship after three interviews.

  • What was your motivation to go on this internship?

I have been interested in UI and UX after my Bachelor graduation, however, UI/UX is still a very broad field that differs from industry to industry. For the mobile internet industry, there has been an amount of either startup or giant companies iterating applications following a mature design process, but it seems a bit different in traditional industries. To be honest, the Rolls-Royce project aroused my interest in how traditional industries like vehicles evolve themselves by integrating User-centered Design into their products. Curiosity was therefore my starting point of this internship.

  • What were your tasks during the internship? Can you share what type of projects you have been involved with there?

The department I worked for focuses on improving the seamless driving experience for consumers, my tasks were thus more relevant to the visual design of the car dashboard and the research for interior driving experience. However, I also generated 3 radical concept proposals for future intelligent life and autonomous cars that might be applied in the CES. After all, every car company is happy to map out the futuristic society including their own cars.

  • What was the most interesting or fascinating thing you learned during your time there?

I’ve learned quite a lot from this experience. One challenging thing was how to define luxury and express it into the vehicular experience design. Different with visualizing the luxury feeling on UI, experience is such a bit abstract feeling that you cannot identify if the UX idea you came up with was ‘luxury’ enough that could fit the car or not. It took me some time to experience this abstract feeling with numerous research and also by referring to colleagues’ work.

  • What was the most difficult thing you encountered?

I have to say that was the visual design. This is totally different to what I designed for apps. Followed by the flat design trend, the user interface of the app could be done in a very simple and logic way. It is contrary to the vehicular entertainment system where the digital instrument cluster, for example, requires visual effects as realistic as possible. I’m still struggling with this problem even now 🙁

  • How did the internship influence your thoughts about design or how and where you want to work after you graduate?

This internship provided me with an opportunity to deepen the understanding of user experience in the car industry and realize the importance of visual skills. I’m excited to continue strengthening these skills through practice in the future 🙂

  • Do you have any recommendations for students who are currently looking for an internship?

I think people need to ask themselves what kinds of design projects they’d like to do before starting to look for the internship. If you want to dig into a long-term project experiencing the detailed iteration process, companies A could be a good choice; but if you would like to try different projects from many fields, you can consider companies B, such as design consultance companies where the working pace is correspondingly a bit faster than the previous one.