This summer, I spent 12 weeks interning at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. It was a fantastic learning experience. I learned a lot by doing real projects, presenting in weekly stand-ups and several meetings, and getting feedback and critique from not only the design team but also people from different disciplines. Here is what I’ve learned from this amazing opportunity:
THE VALUE OF SHADOWING MEETINGS
My intern journey began with scheduling 1–1 interviews with people who work closely with the UX team, followed by shadowing and attending as many meetings as I could. Shadowing my teammate’s meeting, I learned how to use data to articulate design in a professional way and when to make a compromise in order to move the process forward. Shadowing demo meetings, I learned how to use storytelling to convince buyers and when to use mockups to demonstrate the product’s strength. I remembered, in my first week, I shadowed a Clicktale’s demo meeting. Leaders from different divisions attended that meeting and asked tons of KPI questions. That meeting was not related to my projects but gave me a very good sense of the business perspective of each division. I gradually developed my understanding of Wellmark’s business model: what they value, how they make money, how each division collaborates, and who I should talk to if I have questions. Shadowing meetings helped me pick things up quickly as well as gave me confidence about what I was doing.
ALWAYS GIVING CONTEXT TO YOUR AUDIENCES
Since Wellmark is such a big company, every project could involve many people. Talking about what I’ve done as well as pitching my design ideas to stakeholders became one of my most-frequent tasks. My first time presenting updates to the committee, who oversee the whole project, didn’t go well. I assumed those people already knew the project, so I didn’t give them any context at the beginning. Then that meeting turned into a ‘Microsoft critique’ and they interrupted me so many times — not because they didn’t like my updates or ideas, but they didn’t know what I was talking about. That was a big lesson for me. Giving context to audiences before presenting is vital. It helps audiences recall the project and stay on the same page. It also offers audiences respite from their routine so that they can focus more on the presentation.
NEVER HESITATE GETTING STARTED
My main project for this internship was redesigning the intranet for Wellmark technology division. The goal was to improve the intranet browsing experience so that employees could find the right information quickly. It was not a simple web redesign project, because it required the effort and input of various departments and teams. One of the biggest challenges was redesigning the website without knowing the actual content. My initial plan was to redesign the information architecture based on the content received from page owners. However, receiving content became protracted and I wasted so much time waiting. After talking with my leader Jenni about that concern, I took her suggestion and started the redesign process without knowing the actual content. At the same time, by interviewing with page owners, I found their stuggles of writing the right content. Therefore, I changed my design process by starting with analyzing the current web content. After doing that, my project began to move forward and I delivered a content strategy along with the final web redesign at the end of my internship. I learned that hesitating to get started is waste of time, and there are lots of ways to get inspired, gain motivation, and move the process forward. If one method doesn’t work, it’s ok to change it.
PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The most valuable thing I learned from IU HCI/d is to always be humble and never be shy about asking questions or seeking help. Working on a design team filled with talented people who have different skill sets gave me many opportunities to ask for critique, feedback, and observe how experts work. For me, that is perfect practice. One valuable lesson I learned from my leader Jenni and mentor Ryan was how to conduct professional usability testing and generate professional testing reports. I learned: 1) how to pay attention to what people do, not only just what they say. 2) how to use the art of language to stimulate a dry conversation and avoid leading questions. 3) it’s ok to do follow up questions after the actual testing. 4) if the testing was not done with the right people, the data will not be helpful.
At last, big thanks to my awesome ux team: leader Jenni, mentor Ryan, Caleb, Sydney, Mackenzie, and Christina. My first UX internship was amazing. It let me experience the entire process of user experience design and really prepared me for my future career as a UX designer and researcher.