Designlab x Co.Lab: Collaborative, Real-World Experience for UX Academy Grads

A new opportunity for graduates of UX Academy to work on a cross-functional team and ship a real product.

Emilyann Gachko
Emilyann Gachko
Jun 17, 2024
Min Read

We recently rolled out a new partnership initiative in conjunction with Co.Lab, where selected recent UX Academy graduates have the opportunity to get matched with a cross-functional team and work to ship a real product. Selected applicants will have the chance to improve their cross-functional skills and see what it’s like working on a design team in a real-world setting, all while developing a project to add to their portfolios. 

What is the Co.Lab Partnership? 

Through this initiative, graduates from UX Academy can apply to work on a product team via Co.Lab’s 8-week, team-based learning program. The goal of the program is ultimately to create a digital product. Participants will work on small teams consisting of a product manager, a designer, and two developers. Within that group, participants create an end-to-end, real-world product, with the additional support of a product mentor. 

Screenshot of a mobile app for scheduling and task management.
Screens from Zengenda, a mobile app dedicated to streamlining tasks, designed through the Co.Lab partnership.

The Co.Lab curriculum contains weekly submissions that teams submit and are reviewed by the mentors, all of whom are industry professionals with over three years of experience in product management. Mentors work most directly with the team product manager: however, all members of the team can request time with the mentor to help problem-solve and keep the project moving forward. There is also access to a Co.Lab Discord community for continued connection, collaboration, and support. 

This is a great opportunity for UX Academy graduates to practice collaborating with others, learn how to communicate effectively, and add work to their portfolios as they seek to transition into their first UX Design role. 

It’s also a chance for designers to get a sense of what it feels like to work in a tech company, as the Co.Lab experience is meant to simulate this real-life environment. 

Screenshot of a UX design project geared towards outdoor exercising.
MVP version of TimeOut!, an app one of our participants worked on that allows users to easily keep track of the time they spend outside.

We’ve had dozens of students come through the Co.Lab partnership since the end of 2023, and we’ll offer the opportunity for our graduates to get involved on a rolling basis, with Co.Lab running cohorts about once per month. 

What Will Students Work On? 

Project work is varied throughout the Co.Lab partnership, with teams working together to decide the problem space and product idea they will work on. This decision is then led by the project manager, with assistance from all members of the team. All participants will work to ship an MVP of a real-world, end-to-end product, regardless of the type of project they’ll work on. 

Screenshot of a scheduling app on mobile.
TimeFinder, a scheduling app that a Designlab student created the design work for through the Co.Lab partnership.

Participants have worked on projects ranging from fitness trackers to educational products to time management apps: the type of work available is varied, meaning there’s something exciting to get involved in for everyone. 

Designers will also be expected to attend weekly team meetings, be available for project updates and daily standups, and engage with the larger community. This is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the real-life goingson of a larger team, and get experience working in both synchronous and asynchronous design environments. 

What Are Participants Saying? 

Responses from participants in the Co.Lab partnership have thus far been extremely positive. Our graduates have noted more confidence in their design process, particularly in being adaptable and more open to and comfortable with feedback and collaboration. 

“The most valuable part of Co.Lab was the ability to work cross-functionally with a product manager and a few software developers. It's a necessary component to being competitive in the job market for UX/UI / Product Design roles.” - Richard Du, Co.Lab participant

Additionally, working on a wider team allowed for a greater understanding of the roles that each contributes, and how each member plays a part in the development of a final product. Being able to have a firsthand grasp of the holistic team’s contributions also helps to drive the product forward toward a collaborative vision. 

“The sprint’s success was largely due to my team's enthusiasm and involvement. From day one, we prioritized creating a positive and inclusive environment, ensuring clear communication and democratic decision-making. This approach helped us stay aligned and accountable throughout the project.” - Jordan Tempro, Co.Lab participant 

As the designer, practice working together gave an opportunity to advocate for the needs of the user throughout the production creation process. All of these facets of working together created an environment for greater confidence in working cross-functionally and ultimately shipping a product successfully.

Interested in making a career change to UX/UI? Look no further thank our award-winning program UX Academy. Learn more here.

Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.

Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.