Neha Adinamozhi Hones Design Skills with ‘Fantastic’ Internship at Local Startup

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“It really reaffirmed what I want to do when I leave Emily Carr,” says the fourth-year Interaction Design student of her internship via the Shumka Centre's Design for Startups program. (Photo by Perrin Grauer)

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on February 28, 2024 | Updated March 14, 2024, 8:57am

The designer and ECU student led the development of a points system for Minivillage, courtesy of a placement via Shumka Centre’s Design for Startups program.

Designer and ECU student Neha Adinamozhi (BDes 2024) gained “fantastic” professional UX design experience developing a gamified point system for local startup Minivillage.

Design for Startups, a program from the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship at ECU, paired Neha and Minivillage.

“That was my first official internship with a company,” Neha says. “I learned a lot in terms of how to collaborate with people within a team professionally. Also how to manage a project and how to clearly communicate. In the end, I had a proper project to include in my portfolio. It really reaffirmed what I want to do when I leave Emily Carr.”

Design for Startups allows students to earn professional experience while focusing on their studies. The 12-week program pairs 10 student designers with technical and business leads of startup companies. Students consider existing design gaps based on a company’s needs and perform user interface/usability studies to develop innovative design strategies.

The program is generously supported by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

Minivillage supports connections between tenants and building operators across Canada. The platform serves affordable housing, co-op, strata, market housing and municipalities. Minivillage brought Neha on board to develop a point system to encourage users to engage more with its tools.

She researched popular points programs such as Aeroplan and Reddit’s karma points for insight. She audited Minivillage’s platform and had current users walk her through how a reward program might spur more active engagement.

Minivillage asked Neha to work within its existing design system and brand identity. She spent several weeks refining ideas and gathering feedback from Minivillage staff and her Design for Startups cohort after each iteration. At the end of her internship, she made final presentations and prepared her ideas for handoff to Minivillage’s developers.

“Professionally, I was quite impressed with Neha’s skill as a designer for a beginning-to-end project,” says Tracy Liang, Minivillage’s senior product engineer. “She presented herself very well, communicated her processes and progress very clearly and took feedback very seriously. Neha was also very enthusiastic and just generally just a really fun person to work with. She fitted in very well with Minivillage’s warm and friendly team culture.”

Neha says she was treated with great kindness and generosity during her internship.

“They were really sweet,” she tells me. “I felt very included. They even invited me to their Christmas party. They’ve made me feel very welcome, which is the best part.”

Neha enjoyed the experience so much that she applied for a second Design for Startups internship. Armed with her experience working with Minivillage, she’s now assisting Rocketbrew with a website redesign project.

“I’ve definitely taken the things I learned from my past placement and refined my approach this term,” she says.

Neha says participating in Design for Startups has been invaluable across the board.

“All you do is learn,” she says. “Most importantly, you refine your design practice overall. If you’re thinking of doing it, just do it. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

Visit the Shumka Centre online to learn more about Design for Startups and the rest of their extraordinary range of programming.

Visit ECU online to learn about studying Interaction Design at Emily Carr.

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