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Thursday 25 October 2018

Final year BSc (Hons) Web Design and Development student Adam Elsbury has recently returned to Solent, having completed the Extreme Blue global internship programme with IBM.

This fantastic internship is described by IBM as being “not your average. It’s a race against time - with a 12 week timeline compelling you to prove your creativity, passion and knowledge to deliver some of the most innovative solutions to real business challenges.”

We caught up with Adam who told us about his experiences with IBM, the biggest things he learnt, and how he feel Solent helped prepare him for this opportunity.

Hi Adam, tell us about the Extreme Blue Summer Programme.

The Extreme Blue internship programme is a world renowned scheme run by IBM, whereby the best second year students around the world go through a rigorous interview process to take part in a competition to make a real world applicable product for a major company within 16 weeks.

At the end of the 16 weeks each team from the continent (in my case Europe), take part in a presentation to promote their product to try and get it picked up by the companies present.

The teams are usually comprised of four students; this summer was the first time IBM have run the programme with a designer - the team breakdown has historically been one business student and three software engineers so it was an honour to be one of the first designers on the programme and hopefully I made an impact for future designers!

What did you do day-to-day?

My day to day tasks were mainly focused around UX/UI design. I conducted lots of user research in the form of questionnaires, interviews and usability testing and created rapid interactive prototypes using Adobe XD along with the user interface for the app. My position also had a focus on project management.

Fortunately I managed to get my hands dirty towards the end and did a little development using Android Studio.

What was the biggest thing you learnt on placement?

The biggest lesson I learned is that failing is okay, provided you make sure you learn from it. Too many times in the past two years I assumed these top industry professionals were perfect and they could design and code amazing products without mistakes. The truth is everyone makes mistakes, even if they've been in the industry for 20 years.

What makes a great designer or developer is to not to be afraid of making mistakes. Great, innovative products have come off the back of making mistakes. In order to push the boundaries of your ability you have to be willing to look an idiot (and I definitely had my fair share of that!) to truly excel at whatever product you are creating.

Not taking risks is definitely not the right approach when it comes to design or development.

How do you feel your studies at Solent helped prepare you for this opportunity?

I honestly cannot praise Solent enough for preparing me for this experience. Especially the skills I have learned in the UX/UI modules I have completed. They are so spot on with industry standard practice it didn't feel like I was unprepared at all.

I slotted straight into my role and hit the ground running. This is definitely the best university in the country for web design and development. The project structure and group assignments are basically industry practice.