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The secret life of a UX Design Trainee

From pathways into digital design to the secrets of success as a design trainee, this years cohort share their experience of the trainee scheme so far. Over to Ruwan, Steph, Nichola, Lewie, Kevin, Sam, Wendy and Alice to tell us more...


With a background in industrial design, Ruwan was working as a 3D designer before he joined the BBC. He fell in love with UX when he discovered the freedom and flexibility of digital design. Before he started on the scheme Ruwan was particularly keen on understanding user behaviours and psychology to inform his design practice and liberate his creativity! Outside of work he enjoys bouldering, experimenting with music production and seeing his friends and family.

What are you up to right now?

I'm currently in the Design Research team, working with younger audiences and learning about different research methodologies. Just recently I had the pleasure of taking part in some observational research featuring a child testing an early release of a game. Listening to their feedback on the experience was great to hear because they are so honest, they just don’t have a filter!

What is your secret to success?

We gather loads of qualitative insights in Design Research and the methods for capturing those insights often needs really good rapport-building skills with participants – it’s about asking the right questions at the right moment to ensure we pick out the most crucial insights.

Tell us about your favourite project so far on the scheme…

I really enjoyed designing a voice experience. The project incorporates a local weather segment and AI voice into the BBC News Alexa skill. Typical considerations like visual interactions and the user interface were off the table. Instead, it was a very stripped-back problem that required linguistic interactions and clarity of communication as a solution. I found the work of producing an informative yet conversational script for the artificial voice absolutely fascinating.

And what are your 3 words to describe your life as a trainee so far?

Expansive, insightful and encouraging.


An ex-secondary school cover teacher, Steph is curious about the world, how language shapes thought and experimenting with playful design. Her favourite thing to do at the moment is wireframing and pushing the boundary of a brief as far as she can! Outside of work, she loves to travel, swim in the sea like a mermaid, practise photography, drink coffee, eat pastries, and rewatch TV shows on Netflix she’s already seen 12 times.

Which team are you currently working in and what are you up to?

I am currently working in the Bitesize team which is part of a larger umbrella called Children’s and Education - I love it! There's lots to see and do but, personally, I’m exploring who our secondary school audience is, what motivates them, who our competitors are and how we might use this to inform the future secondary user journey design.

What’s so cool about Bitesize?

Being in Bitesize is really rewarding for the soul - I mean, the work you do is literally helping to educate the next generation of young minds!

Lift the lid on home working - do you have any tips or tricks to help feel inspired?

Working from home can be uninspiring surrounded by the same four walls every day, alone. But I like to set up Zoom catch-ups with other designers just to sit and chat about anything - what we did last night, holidays or show each other what work we’ve been doing. Doing this inspires new thoughts and feelings about my work. I also like to browse Pinterest or design-led websites to look at unusual or wild artwork!

Describe your experience so far in three words.

Dynamic, valuable and playful.


Before joining the BBC, Nichola worked in Brand & Packaging and moved into UX Design due to her love of all things creative, her analytical thinking and interest in psychology. She loves to get into the detail and understand the behaviours of others to be able to design for their needs. At home, one of her favourite things to do is to get cosy with a hot latte and enjoy an interior design magazine, edit some of her travel photos or practise some illustrating.

Can you reveal what you are up to right now?

I’m currently working with the Sounds App team and working my way through all the fascinating user research we have to identify where the opportunities lie. This will make sure we are truly focussed on the users’ needs and help to make the app even more exciting! I'm also looking at how we can improve content discovery within the app which involves lots of fun ideation work and experimentation.

How would you describe the people you have worked with?

Every single person I have worked with has been incredibly kind, helpful and supportive. Nothing is too much trouble and they’re always available to show you the ropes, get you involved and make sure your time at the BBC is the best it can be. Everyone gets stuck in and are always up for some fun!

And what has your experience as a trainee been like in three words?

Inspiring, rewarding and inviting.


Before joining the BBC, Lewie studied Product Design at Loughborough University. He spent his placement year as a Design Engineer designing robot hands (think ‘RoboCop’) and physical products suitable for manufacture. He’s super curious about exploring new and exciting ways to find the best solutions to real-life problems. When not working, you'll find him out and about with friends, watching football or eating great food. He loves sport and keeping active, travelling, and is always up for any kind of adventure (especially if followed by a beer on the beach).

Which team are you currently working in and what are you up to?

Since starting in January, I’ve worked within 3 amazing teams: iPlayer, Weather and the Account UX Team. The great thing about the Scheme is it allows you to jump straight into exciting projects, and there’s a real sense of achievement when you see people using the products you’ve helped design and shape. I’m currently working to improve the efficiency of the TV sign-in process, it’s been fascinating to create a simple and intuitive user journey whilst also trying to keep within the constraints of the project.

Can you share what encouraged you to apply for the scheme?

Having studied Product Design at uni, I always thought I’d end up following a physical design path. Luckily, during my final year I undertook a UX module which exposed me to this area of design for the first time. I loved the idea of designing digital products and putting the user at the heart of the design so I jumped at the chance to work for the BBC as a UX Designer. Being on a year-long trainee scheme was the perfect opportunity to get a solid grounding in User Experience Design.

Describe your experience so far in three words

Exciting, diverse, collaborative.


Kevin is based in Glasgow and studied Product Design at University. Originally from the Architectural Facade industry, he began to explore how Product Design compared with Digital Product Design. This led him to join the UX&D Trainee Scheme and he’s never looked back. In his spare time, he enjoys going to gigs, exploring new places and sampling Instagram-inspired food & drink.

Where are you right now and what are you working on?

I’m currently in the Emerging Experiences team where we explore what future experiences might look like for our users. I’ve been working on a project formed through an alliance between some of the biggest organisations in the world with the aim of tackling misleading information online. It’s a mammoth task but having the opportunity to help users navigate potentially misleading content, especially as technology develops, is very rewarding.

Can you reveal what your favourite project has been so far?

During my time in the Children’s and Education team, I helped to design an engaging experience for the CBeebies Apps which would be tested with 3-6-year-olds. It was rewarding to observe kids using the prototype and seeing how enthusiastic they reacted to many of the playful animations and interactions. The feedback was incredibly positive.

Tell me about a typical day as a UX&D Trainee…

Generally, the day will start with a team stand-up where we chat about what we’re working on. Collaboration plays a big role in what we do and that means meetings. They could be in the form of workshops, sharing work with stakeholders or doing some user research - all incredibly important in how we work together successfully. Diving into project discovery work, crafting prototypes and covering walls with user insights on Post-Its are also pretty common activities.

And how would you describe your experience so far in three words?

Such great people!


Sam is based in Glasgow, and before joining the BBC he studied Digital Design at Glasgow Caledonian University. He’s always been interested in technology and the way user interfaces look and work, plus his love of design made UX seem like a natural path. Outside of work he likes to go analogue and stick on a vinyl record from his collection. He has albums for all moods - ranging from the Beatles to Taylor Swift, from Elton to Gaga. He’s also partial to a Hugh Grant romcom.

What are you up to at the moment?

I’m currently in the Content Discovery team, where I’ve been working on concepts for new ways to consume short-form content from across the BBC. It’s been great fun and a good chance to get creative with mockups and prototypes.

Tell us about your favourite project to have worked on

They’ve all been favourites for different reasons! In my first placement, I got to work with researchers to help build an accessibility framework that makes it easier for designers to create inclusive experiences. In my next placement, I was involved in some work around the branding of CBBC and CBeebies. I was a diehard Ed and Oucho fan as a child, and to grow up and actually work on a brand that was such a big part of my childhood was a bit surreal!

Share a secret - what’s the easiest and hardest thing about being a UX&D trainee?

For me, the easiest thing has been finding enthusiasm for the work that I’m doing. When joining a new team, seniors have always found projects for me that relate to my goals and interests so I’ve never had a hard time motivating myself to get stuck into something.

The hardest thing is also one of the biggest benefits of the trainee scheme - the rotations! When you’re working with one team for three months it’s easy to get pretty comfortable and it can feel daunting moving to a new team. But I’ve found embracing it is really helpful. Put yourself in the right mindset and you’ll be excited by the new challenges as each rotation brings you loads of new experiences.

Finally how would you describe your experience so far in three words?

Rewarding, collaborative, fun!


Before joining the BBC, Wendy worked as a UI/UX designer in a digital agency. She found her interest and passion in UX after learning about user research from a UX competition at Uni, and decided to study UX and Graphic design during her master degree. Having a multidisciplinary background always helped Wendy to look at challenges from different perspectives and be more empathetic to the work that she is doing. Outside of work, Wendy enjoys bouldering with friends and film photography.

Tell us a bit more about your favourite project you’ve worked on.

There was a CBeebies app research project that I really enjoyed. I loved it because I participated in different stages of the process and felt like I watched the project growing up. I learned many skills from that project and became more independent. I will never forget the first session I moderated in a usability test with a 3-year-old kid, it was really a fun session!

So spill the beans, how have you found the workload as a UX&D trainee?

No matter which team I joined, they have always wanted to get me involved in the most interesting projects so that I could learn as much as I wished. Usually, the first few weeks would be an understanding phase, then I will start doing some hands-on work, like joining regular stand-up meetings, working independently on the briefs and sharing progress with the team whenever I feel it's ready.

And in 3 words how would you describe your time as a trainee so far?

Fun, inspiring, supportive.


Alice in based in London and studied psychology at University. She has a passion for the study of human behaviour which is what drew her to UX Design. After working in Travel, she decided to move into a more creative role and found UX Design was the perfect opportunity to combine her passions. Outside of work, she loves to play tennis, hike and ski.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working with the Weather team and there’s lots going on! I’ve been gathering research insights for a workshop to prioritise work for the next quarter. It was a great opportunity to present to the wider team and help drive the ideas in the session. I’m also exploring ideas for the new lock screen widget that will be released with the iOS update which is really exciting!

Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?

It was really interesting working with the Systems and Service design team who are dedicated to designing internal systems for BBC employees. I worked on a project to add additional value to an editorial curation tool and it was rewarding to know that we were improving the workflow for our fellow colleagues which in turn helps create a better experience for our audiences.

Do you have a secret you can share about the UX&D Trainee Scheme?

I have found that the teams have been amazing at giving me projects that will help me develop in areas I would like to improve. You don’t have to have a totally clear direction of your goals whilst on the scheme but if you’d like to develop in a certain area, speak to your team and they will likely find projects to help you achieve them.

What are your top tips for getting the most out of the scheme?

No question is a silly question. You may be new to this and your team know that, so they are expecting you to ask lots of questions.

Finally, describe your time as a trainee in three words.

Supportive, creative, varied.


We run the design trainee scheme every year, so keep an eye out for the latest details on the BBC Careers site.

Also be sure to follow us on on Instagram and LinkedIn

Special thanks to Al Jones, Creative Director, and Hazel Wyllie and Sarrah Mohammed, UX Designer.

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