I spent april, may and june as a UI/UX intern at Belfius, the largest & most innovative Belgian bank. Last summer we were notified that as part of the next and final term of my bachelor studies, we were obliged to find an interesting internship. Which is when I contacted Bram Vanhaeren, art director at Belfius.
It’s at Belfius where I learned the importance of good UX. I spent countless hours talking to my colleagues about their UX expertise and past experiences. Belfius really praises their customer & therefore sets apart plenty of time for their creative team to really delve into the minds of the people they’re designing for to build the best possible product. This way of working was refreshing to me as for my freelance work, I’m typically on very tight deadlines all the god damn time.
The Belfius board knows the best possible product is only achievable with the best possible team. At Belfius I had the chance to step in as a relative newbie and work with a bunch of experts of their respective fields. Real diamonds were carved when a couple of these experts sat together and shared their area of expertise, I’m talking UI gurus, UX experts, communication pros, product owners, marketing leads, developers,… you name it.
What’s also important to know is that with that expertise, comes a respectable pricetag. From what I understood, everyone in our team was making very good money (without naming exact rates).
Disclaimer: as this position was part of my bachelor studies, I wasn’t able to charge for my work at the bank.
Given there’s all these experts walking around and the fact that Belfius is Belgium’s biggest bank, you can imagine the extent of this corporate. Any small change or creative act needed to be constantly validated by multiple people overseeing your team and eachother, which unfortunately limits creative thinking and innovation. But that’s to be expected.
That said though, Belfius provides so many services, their website and mobile app are immense. There’s always room for improvement and there’s always something to do. That was the beauty of this internship, if I got up one day feeling like doing some animation, I could, if I wanted to restructure a piece of content, I could. If I saw an opportunity for illustration, I took it. As long as I could convince my superior of the value of my intervention through a brief informal pitch, the project was mine.
Big picture stuff
Because I had joined the team as a young creative, Bram Vanhaeren (UI Lead at the time) would often set me up with big picture design challenges to test my creative thinking. I had the edge of just joining the team with a fresh creative mind, unlike the other designers, who had been working inside of Belfius’ guidelines for the past couple months or years.
Which leads me to my last and final point, something that’s near impossible to avoid. Working at a large corporate, especially a bank, gets repetitive. What came as a surprise to me though, is the fact that I experienced this as a positive! I didn’t feel nearly as creatively drained after work as I did when I worked at a design agency last summer. I felt motivated to pick up my Apple pencil and to start to work for my own clients, which potentially makes this a perfect position to pair up with own entrepreneurial endeavours.
All in all I really enjoyed my time at Belfius and it turned out to be a very positive and educational experience, which added a lot of value to my resumé.
- Lukas, signing out.