I'm currently a co-op student (intern) at a software company that has a large, old application. We're currently in the process of converting it from an old runtime to something new, and in the process, redesigning many of the forms. Our old application has a lot of UI gaffes, and I'd like to ask our boss for a book on designing good user interfaces.

I would purchase and read it myself, but I feel it would benefit the entire team to have handy. Is there a certain approach to use?

4 Answers 4


You should basically go to your boss and ask them about it. Seriously, if you phrase your question in a similar manner to how you wrote this one, then you should be fine.

Co-ops are supposed to be learning programs, I know I've learned a TON of stuff at my current one. That being said, any half-decent boss should be more than happy to do something like this, as it not only brings more skills to the team, but can also have a lasting effect on you, personally. It also shows that you're willing to go above and beyond what's asked of you, in order to do work at the highest of your potential. That looks REALLY good if you ever interview with the company again, for an actual job once you graduate.

And, if it comes down to it, buy the book yourself and be seen reading it at work, during breaks/lunch. Pull it out and reference it while working with the team.

  • @David Definitely follow this advice. I am currently an intern software developer and have learned that managers in the software fields care very little about the actual knowledge of the intern. In my experience, my bosses have only been interested in my creativity and willingness to learn. Also, the man knew there were problems with the UI when he assigned it to you. There's no way he would be offended by you expressing a genuine desire to improve his product, if that's something you're worried about. Good luck!
    – degausser
    Aug 7, 2012 at 14:37
  • This has always worked for me. Think of it this way: "If you're willing to invest $X for this training material, I'm willing to invest Y hours of my own free time studying and becoming a better worker for you." This will generally be a fantastic deal for the employer. Aug 7, 2012 at 18:38

Computers are expensive. Software is expensive. People are very expensive. Books are cheap, and if they help the business use their expensive resources even just a tiny bit better, they pay for themselves many times over. Any manager who hesitates to pay for books is penny wise and pound foolish.

Try this: Boss, I'd like to buy this book. I think it'll help me understand user interface design better and faster than I would without it, and I think the rest of the team could benefit from looking at it too.

If he's smart, he'll ask you if you've read any reviews and if you're sure that this is the right book for the task at hand. When you say yes, he'll tell you to order two copies.


Of course(!) your boss has "a 'professional development' budget!"

Do you need a book? Do you think that you need to attend a training seminar?

Of course(!!) we'll pay for it!

  • It's unclear what you mean by "Of course". Are you being facetious? I don't know. Some departments, even very important ones, are really run on a shoestring. And by run, I mean they hobble along.
    – OmarL
    Oct 22, 2021 at 7:38

What do you mean? If you yourself come up and ask for it, on the contrary, it will be a plus for you! He will understand that you are working for a reason, and you are interested in it. I was given a written service there with excellent teaching materials.

  • 1
    This isn't an answer, this is a comment.
    – PowerCat
    Oct 21, 2021 at 13:45

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