Over my winter break, I was able to return to Redfin Solutions, after interning with them over the previous summer. This was a really great experience, mainly because I was faced with new kinds of issues from what I had dealt with previously, and was forced to come at these issues from new angles. In addition, I was able to return to work with the context of the new skills I’d learned over the semester between the two internship periods. Over the summer, I spent much of my time creating an internal dashboard that would allow Redfin employees to monitor their websites’ status and security. It also allows their clients to securely view important information pertaining to their websites. Upon returning to Redfin, I was updated on the actual usefulness of the dashboard during the time I was gone. I learned what worked, and more importantly, what didn’t. I was able to take this feedback and improve the dashboard, fixing bugs and rearranging some of the internals of the site to make it more efficient and reliable for what it has to do. This was very relevant to what I had just learned about in a User Experience class the previous semester, in which we talked about how a UX designer’s job is never “done,” they must consistently return to old projects to analyze those projects’ efficiency, fix problems and update the experience to make sure it stays relevant and still does what it needs to do.
Since Redfin Solutions bases their work off of the web content platform Drupal, I was introduced to some site building and maintenance using Drupal versions 6 and 7 during my time there over the summer. Since then, Drupal released the first stable build of Drupal 8, a whole new territory. I was tasked with becoming acquainted with Drupal 8 by setting up my own install using the knowledge I gained over the summer of the previous versions. Once I did this, I worked on converting a module made for an older build of Drupal to the newer one. Being a New Media major, one of the things I always have to keep in mind is the constant changing and advancement of technology and design. I feel as though this exercise reflected that, as I had to learn the newer methods of constructing modules and then apply those methods by updating a module somebody else had made. The fact that I wasn’t the original creator of the module made the experience even more beneficial, since lots of actual work environments will involve picking up other people’s projects, and being able to handle this well is critical.
Redfin Solutions isn’t especially large, and they regularly have to communicate with offsite employees or while working from home. They currently use a few methods of communicating with each other digitally, such as Slack and Screenhero. They wanted something that would allow them to speak to each other directly while working, intercom-style, without being in on Skype call all day. This is where my hobby for video games actually turned out to be useful. Lots of people playing games online use voice chat applications that suit this need, so I set up a server for an application called Mumble in the office, allowing anyone to press a key to speak to everyone else, whether they were in the next room or the other side of the country. I’m really glad that I was able to apply something related to my personal hobbies that ended up benefitting the office in a professional context.
Overall, I think it was really beneficial to be able to return to Redfin over my break. The experience I got was something that couldn’t be replicated in a normal classroom, due to the professional context and being able to return to and refine a project over extended periods of time. In addition, I got to take skills that I learned from my previous work experience, along with school, to work with a new system that was still emerging into more mainstream use. I was also able to apply something I picked up during my personal time to solve an actual, meaningful problem. My experience at Redfin will not only help me during my time in school, but will undoubtedly be essential to my performance in future work environments.