Simplifying the internship decision making process
It’s job hunting season again at the University of Waterloo. A young first year engineering student takes its first wobbly steps into WaterlooWorks before being quickly ambushed by 3A Google interns speaking a seemingly different language. With exam season hovering above job searching, the student scours through online search engines, seeking to understand complicated job descriptions and hopes in finding the last intern.
This... is the story of SydeDoor. An online platform for Systems Design students to research jobs, post reviews and connect with their fellow program mates.
A student who is studying systems design engineering at the University of Waterloo
synonyms trusting, driven, desire to share knowledge.
The ultimate deliverable of SydeDoor is to reduce the stress of students applying for internships. This is done by simplifying the decision making process through a centralized platform which provides reliable and relevant information.
We want to...
1. Simplify research process - eliminate the need to jump between platforms when conducting job research
2. Build connections - encourage network growth amongst students by connecting them with experienced interns and alumni
3. Provide reliable information - the platform is based on trust and needs to present correct and reliable information so that it enables students to make a more informed job decision
Before immediately jumping onto the Sketch and inVision bandwagon, we began by understanding our users with asking the following questions:
1. Who are our users?
2. What problems are the users facing?
3. What's preventing them from using existing solutions?
After surveying a group of students, we pinpointed a few findings:
🎓 Upper year students wish to give back
🕸 Lower year students wish to network with upper year students
♥️ Students trust and are interested in the internship experiences of their peers in the same faculty
To understand our users better, we identified two potential users from someone who is looking for honest reviews and curious about upper year's internship journeys, to users who want to share their knowledge and is experienced with the job application process.
We conducted a hierarchical task analysis of the existing journey of a student finding information about a job.
We highlighted some points of barriers:
- Most reviews are anonymous, thus making it extremely hard to find out who worked the job users are interested in. A user may want to reach out for more questions, but there is no form of contact that will direct the user to the right people.
- Platforms do an information dump on their users. The amount of content displayed on these websites can be overwhelming for users, which can lead to unexpected behaviors, not allowing users to focus on what is important to them.
We laid out the user flow for SYDE DOOR, focusing on the key features and I created some low fidelity wireframes to capture the ideas.
The traditional star rating was a feature we hesitated with putting on the platform. We were worried that people would deter from applying for a job by just looking at the star rating. Just because one person had a bad experience with a job at a company does not mean the same would apply to another person. The solution was to allow reviewers to weight different aspects of their experience, for example: Mentorship, Pay, Workload, etc. from least important to most important and provide a star rating for each of those experiences. By doing this, the overall star rating for each company would better reflect how a students felt about their experience. Additionally, by listing the number of reviews right underneath the star rating provides the users with additional information to help them make decisions.
Another core decisions we had to make was the placement of the "Add a review" page. The original idea was to have the dropdown menu on the same page as where a user would write their reviews. Due to engineering constraints, we had to redesign that interaction by separating the select a company function from adding a review. After analyzing our decision, it made sense to divide these features. There is now less text fields on the “Add a review” page, which eliminates noise and distraction for the user. We will also be displaying the company name so that they are aware of which company they are adding the review to.
After a few rounds of refinement, I began designing some hi-fidelity screens.
This was one of my first design projects and there's definitely a lot that I would improve on.
During the exploration phase, I took a lot of inspiration from other popular websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and many more. It's useful to look at existing design patterns to know what types of interaction and visual designs people would be comfortable with.
Intentionality plays a key role in design and so it's important to ensure the designs make sense in the context of your project.