Gavin Li ’22

Williams Students Online, Williamstown, MA

My summer internship was with Williams Student Online (WSO), a service platform created by Williams College students for the greater Williamstown community. My work was focused on redesigning the user interface and user experience. This meant revamping the entire look of the website and adding extra features to make the platform more intuitive and accessible. This project is my biggest and most challenging project yet, but I found a lot of fulfillment and pride in the work I produced at the end of the summer. I focused on changing commonly used features of the platform, such as Facebook and Factrak, and explored how I can share their spotlight with less frequented parts of the website like Dormtrak and the home postings page. This work was done through a prototyping software called Figma, which I worked on for the majority of the summer.

I learned way more about design and its real-life applications than I expected to this summer. These lessons I learned were not just technical, either. I picked up sustainable work habits such as budgeting my time so I would not burn out early in a work day. I also got to face the realities of design, notably how there is no “perfect” product. We can only strive for it but we will continuously notice flaws to correct as we attempt to reach that point. This thought sounds pessimistic but I found it comforting during my time designing. It let me explore what the WSO platform and its features are capable of and not infatuate myself with an idea of a “perfect WSO” because, frankly, it does not exist.

A lot of what I knew prior to this internship was from my Human-Computer Interactions course. After this summer internship, I am further considering a career in UI/UX design. Conveniently, the computer science department is offering a Human Artificial Intelligence Interactions course this coming semester that I am considering taking to further my knowledge in this field. Overall, this summer has been a very rewarding experience. I dipped my toes into design outside of the classroom, and understood the real-life implications design has on its users. A lot of my growth is thanks to my ASIP instructor, Garett ’22, who has been so encouraging throughout this process. I am happy to conclude this summer with a completed project that I have a sense of ownership over. Although the internship has officially ended, I plan to gather a team of other students interested in design to continue this project during the school year.

I want to thank the Estate of Bruce C. Davey and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for their continuous guidance and support throughout this summer and for making this opportunity possible. My original plan was to find work as a consultant in Washington, DC, but it was canceled due to Covid-19. Thinking back, the cancelation was a blessing in disguise as I got to explore a career field I have been interested in and ultimately fell in love with it. Williams College truly is a place for career exploration, and my experience this summer is a testament to this.