Right before Easter this year, I started an internship with Hemnet as an UX intern. I am currently doing a two year program in UX Design and this was my very first internship in the field. Although I had done projects with real companies before, this was my first time working in an organisation and experiencing how day-to-day work looks like in the UX-field. And with Hemnet being one of Sweden’s most recognised and loved brands - meaning staggering numbers of users and traffic to the site - I knew it would be a great place to learn.
By the time I started, Hemnet had spent just over a year working remotely. I was concerned that this would have a negative impact on my learning and getting to know people, but it turns out it was no problem at all. The overall experience was extremely positive and I’d like to share it so you know what to expect if you find yourself about to work for the biggest property portal in Sweden- from an intern’s perspective.
As an UX Design intern my work consisted of two main parts: follow and support an UX designer in her daily work in the product team; and my own independent project where I did a review on the accessibility of the site and app for people living with visual impairments.
I found this setup worked really well as I could easily fill the time I didn’t follow my mentor along with my own independent work. I also got a ton of support when planning and conducting my project from the whole UX team making me feel very supported and that the work actually mattered to them. They gave me tips and feedback and helped me interview and take notes when meeting the users.
The mix of different tasks really gave me a broad introduction to many aspects of an UX Designers daily work which I found very interesting and informative.
The business is organised cross-functionally around Hemnet’s different user groups. This means that each team gets a close understanding of the needs for their specific user group, and can focus on developing great products for them. I spent my time mostly with Team Agent (responsible for the products built for property agents) where my UX mentor collaborated with front- and backend developers, a product manager and a development manager. This seemed to facilitate fast communication and buy-in for new design ideas. There was also a strong meme culture here. I liked it.
The organisation as a whole was very transparent and everybody could jump in and out of different teams’ Slack channels to see what was up. There’s bi-weekly feedback sessions with users that UX organises but anybody is welcome to listen in. In between these, there was also a constant dialogue with users on places like Twitter and e-mail. These insights were shared broadly as well and I thought this was a great way to work with user feedback.
During my time at Hemnet I was fortunate to meet people from different departments, not only the UX and product teams. What I found through and through was that the culture is down to earth and welcoming and the people are kind, fun and smart.
They have this thing in Slack that introduces two or three random co-workers to each other, in an effort to mitigate social isolation I guess? I was pleasantly surprised to find that people (including C-level people) actually used it and that they made time for a 30 min fika to meet with me. It was very relaxed and felt like a good alternative to catching up with somebody by the coffee machine as you might have done when working at the office.
My internship happened to coincide with Hemnet going public on Nasdaq. Of course this was a huge cause for celebration and we were all invited to see the bell ringing remotely. The party would undoubtedly have been more grand had it not been remote, but we were all sent a package home with things to celebrate with. That meant that I got to fire a confetti cannon in front of my webcam at 9 o’clock in the morning, and then work surrounded by confetti for the rest of the day (like a DJ!). I liked it.
We also had several after works and fikas during these weeks where we played games and got to know each other. Again, this definitely helped balance out the fact that the work was remote.
So, what did I learn?
Well, I learned a lot during my nine weeks at Hemnet. From practical UX stuff like how to work practically and strategically with design systems, how to conduct and collaborate around user interviews, how to conduct experiments and tips and tricks for efficient work in Figma; to how to work cross-functionally in and agile organisation and what matters when sharing insights. The internship was all I was hoping for and more and I definitely recommend Hemnet for anybody interested in UX or the property market at large.