At the Crux of it all: taking ownership as a product design intern

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Cambridge Engineering student Katja Ruda reflects on her experience as an intern at Crux Product Design over the summer of 2022. Crux is a leading design consultancy based in Bristol, serving high-profile clients in the medical and consumer sectors

What was the best thing about working for Crux? 

Crux achieved perfect balance in work for me, giving me my own internal project which I had sole ownership of, in addition to a client-facing position on an exciting new project. I was allowed to get my bearings in the company by starting on the internal project: the first step was to fully define the task, which involved talking to as many of my colleagues as possible to find out what they would find most useful. This was an excellent way to meet lots of people and find out about their innovative work, while also demonstrating how useful my project would be once I had completed it. 

I firmly believe that it is in environments such as these that the best work gets done

Within a few weeks, I began working on the client project too. It was a huge confidence boost to be trusted with this additional responsibility so early on, and it was fascinating to get firsthand experience of the consultant-client working relationship. 

In addition to my own projects, I was often invited to brainstorms for the early-stage design of other projects. In a brainstorm, the organiser gathers a group from all across the company, and we all try and come up with as many responses to a given brief as we can. With a vigorously enforced “no bad ideas” policy (and plenty of snacks), the atmosphere is always very fun and creative, which is perfect for inspiring innovative designs. 

It would be remiss of me not to mention friendly and supportive atmosphere at Crux. It contributed no end to my positive experience working there and I firmly believe that it is in environments such as these that the best work gets done. I was welcomed generously – within a few hours of arriving I had been lent a bicycle for the duration of my stay! – and always felt included in social activities outside of work, which was incredibly valuable as someone new to the city of Bristol. 

What attracted you to Crux? Did it meet your expectations? 

I got a strong sense that creativity and attention to detail were at the heart of Crux’s work while applying, and these were two of the values which had brought me to engineering in the first place, so I certainly felt like we had something in common. I know now that that feeling was correct: Crux embodies these values, and I was impressed and inspired to see such creativity and attention to detail at work in a professional context. The work is meticulous, and the results are beautiful. 

I was also attracted by the multidisciplinary nature of the work. The products that Crux designs are the result of collaboration between people from a whole range of disciplines, from Human Factors experts who know exactly what the end-users will need to make their experience simple yet satisfying, to mechanical engineers who ensure the inner workings are as seamless as the ergonomic exterior. 

Keeping some core values and goals at the forefront of your search will help to narrow down the options

What key lesson would you take from your experience? 

Have confidence in yourself! Especially at Cambridge, it can feel like a bit of a scramble to keep up from time to time, and it’s easy to wonder if you’re doing enough. In hindsight, it is clear that my colleagues had faith in me and the work I was doing while acknowledging the fact that I was still a student and giving me space to learn. Using experiences such as these is something you can really take forward into the subsequent years of your degree and future professional work. 

What advice would you give to engineers looking for placements? 

Take the time to find the right fit and have faith that it is out there. There is a huge diversity amongst working environments and jobs, which can be daunting when setting out to find a place to work. Keeping some core values and goals at the forefront of your search will help to narrow down the options, and from there you can apply with confidence. 

Learn more about Crux, their placements and roles on their website.

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