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Summer 2021

Summer Diaries: OLA (Product Design)

October 28, 2021
- Mayan Sachan

With the pandemic spreading worldwide, there were little to no opportunities for good internships in 2020. By the time 2021 began, I had become very excited about working at a good firm. I started applying at companies at the beginning of the year, being impatient and somewhat scared.
After endless cold emails and LinkedIn messages, my struggles came to an end. Hello, I am Mayan Sachan, and I spent the summer of 2021 as a Product Design Intern at Ola.

The application decision:

Unlike most designers at IITR, I didn’t join any campus group in my first year, nor was I remotely interested in anything. My design journey started in my second year, but I knew this was something I was passionate about as soon as I started it.
By my pre-final year, I had worked with many startups and campus groups. I loved every experience, growing with each project. After interning at mid-level startups, I decided to apply to big startups and corporations. These companies offer great exposure and learning opportunities which I wouldn’t get while working with small firms. I had been waiting a long time for the exposure and learning opportunities of working with the designers at a large-scale firm.

So in February of 2021, I started applying to many companies, reaching out to people on Linkedin and Emails.

The selection process:

The selection process included two interviews and a Design task.

Stage 1: Portfolio discussion and intro-call: I contacted Aryaman Mandhana (Chief of staff at Ola) over Linkedin. We scheduled a call for a general meeting. We talked about life in general and my journey as a designer. It was interesting to hear, many Designers at Ola had similar journeys. Later, we discussed my portfolio, ran through a few of my case studies, and talked about my processes on these projects.
After the interview, I received a Design task.


The solution proposed by me for the design task

Stage 2: I worked on a 4-day design sprint. It was the most exciting Design task I had ever done. I got started with brainstorming ideas and ideating the solutions. My work included understanding the problem & user goals, researching how users make decisions, and finally creating UI and prototypes for my solution. Furthermore, I explored how we might determine the success of my solution.
The task was to design a section of the product to focus more of my limited time on research and ideating solutions. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to share the solution with you.

Stage 3: Task discussion and interview.

The Ola design team liked my solution and decided to interview me. It took a couple of weeks to set the interview. During the interview, I explained the solution. But more importantly, I explained my process and how my solution would solve the user’s problems.

In April of 2021, I finally received the call. I had gotten a fantastic opportunity to work as a Product Design intern at Ola.


Ola campus Bangalore

The Onboarding:

I went to Bangalore 2 days before my joining date, settled in, and found a PG. My first day in the city was full of excitement and curiosity. I explored the city, even went to see the Ola campus.

I got my Macbook Pro and started accommodating with the kind of work they do at Ola. The first week was mostly spent with my onboarding and understanding of the ongoing projects. I was amazed to hear about all the new projects, more importantly, how designers perceived them.


End of excitement:

Unfortunately, Bangalore went into complete lockdown two weeks after I started my internship in April 2021. I continued the rest of my internship from Home. But it was still an exciting experience for me.

About the work:

The work was a bit hectic, requiring time and effort. Because of this, I was able to work on multiple projects throughout my four-month internship. Although, I contributed a little to some projects. But my major three projects involved working on- Ola Cabs design system, the Ola OTF platform, and the Ola electric scooter.

The best part about working at Ola was getting the opportunity to work on the Ola electric scooter. This was a completely new side of Product Design, moving outside the screens and designing for something very different.


Work culture:

Ola has a great work culture. The few days I spent at the office were phenomenal. It was great working alongside some of the big names in the industry and learning from their experience. Every day felt like an opportunity to be my best.
As I previously mentioned, the work is a little hectic, but I loved every second of it. I think as an intern, we need to learn and work as hard as possible, and Ola provided the perfect environment for that. We sometimes stayed up jamming on designs till 2 AM, but it never felt like work. I learned to take ownership of work going live at such a colossal scale and being trained to become a better designer.



I grew so much as a designer during my internship. Working at a large firm was even more rewarding than I imagined. You never know what the future holds for you, so just keep shooting your shots.
Some of the key things I learned-

  1. Always question things. Most of us learn to do this with ourselves, thus evolving our ideas and judging ourselves. But, what I learned was to even question your seniors or leaders. Often, we imagine that if an experienced team leader says something, it would be correct, but it is okay to question their opinion.

  2. Life will be full of pressure; learn how to deal with it. I was sometimes overwhelmed with the work pressure and often felt inadequate. My mentor always asked me to take some time off and deal with the problem again. This relates to real life, too, given the stress people face in their work lives every day and how we may deal with it.

  3. Looking at problems differently. As a designer, the most challenging thing is putting yourself in the shoes of the user. Working on an Ola electric scooter required understanding real-life problems users face while riding. Thus, changing my perspective towards problem-solving as a Product Designer.