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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI interns: What I did -- with information -- on my summer ‘vacation’

Thursday, 10/01/2020

From researching COVID-19 misinformation to working in Product Design for Facebook, nearly 350 UMSI students held credit-based or required internships this summer. 

This number represents 90% of the students who hold credit-based or required summer internships during a normal year, according to Joanna Kroll, Director of Career Development at the University of Michigan School of Information. 

All 2020 internships were virtual, to adhere to the U-M Provost’s guidelines for student health and safety during the pandemic. However, this didn’t stop UMSI students from achieving their goals and engaging in meaningful work.

Here are some of their summer internship experiences:

Faith Reynolds

Faith Reynolds, MHI

Internship: Accenture, Management Consulting Summer Analyst

Top takeaways: This summer I had the privilege to work on the Data & Analytics team on a project to cut costs and create a new revenue stream for our client. The client was a state health plan that also had a network of providers. I learned about the intricacies of costs of care and how they intersect with the back-end operations of a payer system.

Internship goals: I wanted to get hands-on experience with both insurance and provider data And to know if consulting was the right fit for me.

My UMSI advantage: UMSI’s Career Development Office held sessions throughout the semester that were helpful to navigating the many possible career paths and interests. They made sure resources for resume help, interview prep and the job search were accessible and helpful. 

The lessons I learned in SI 501 were particularly applicable to my job search and my work this summer. I learned how to build good relationships with clients and to effectively organize and present hypotheses to teammates and clients.

Bonnie White

Bonnie White, MSI

Internship: Quicken Loans, UX Strategy Intern

Top takeaways: I had a great experience as a remote intern this Summer. When I started my internship I didn't fully understand the role of the UX strategist, but I quickly learned how the Product Strategy team works on 3 person pods. What I understood as the role of the UX Designer is split so each member focuses on a specific component, either strategy (information architecture and user flow), content writer or UI designer. This work style allows for agile development within a large company. The first week of my experience I was leading strategy on a project for Rocket Mortgage Application which was an exciting way to learn the ropes.  

Internship goals: During my internship I wanted to examine which role within UX I want to pursue in my career post graduation. While I have a lot of experience broadly in the workforce, I had never worked at a large technology focused company, so I wanted to follow my curiosities and notice what elements I liked and disliked about my job so I could learn my preferences which will inform my job search.

My UMSI advantage: The Career Development Office was incredibly helpful during my internship search, from preparing and revising my application materials to learning how to conduct informational interviews and leverage the career fair. Working in groups frequently during classes also prepared me for how to best handle myself when being thrown into different working groups during my internship.

Fernando Herranz

Fernando Herranz, MHI

Internship: U-M Center for Academic Innovation, Researcher

Top takeaways: I belonged to the Behavior Science (BS) team that primarily helped in acquiring qualitative data and developing the content and learning interventions for the online team building and learning tools Tandem and E-Coach. The BS team also works with Goal Setter, a new tool for UofM classes offered on Coursera that helps learners set learning goals and complete the course they are taking.

Internship goals: I had 3 main goals: do usability testing, do qualitative data analysis, and do survey/questionnaire development.

My UMSI advantage: The best preparation I had was from my SI 501 class, Contextual Inquiry.


Joe Soonthornsawad

Joe Soonthornsawad, MSI

Internship: UMSI, Research Experience for Master’s Students (REMS) Fellow

Top takeaways: This summer, I was a part of UMSI's REMS program. I did research with Professor Daniel Romero to understand how people have reacted to the pandemic. Using natural language processing, I analyzed tweets in different states from the beginning of the year to the end of the summer precautions, examining the frequency at which users were talking about taking precautions throughout this time period. I see myself as a social researcher, and the fellowship has greatly expanded the ways in which I can ask questions about technology and society, and helped me learn how to communicate these research findings to a variety of audiences. I also gained valuable experience learning how to apply data manipulation, analysis, and visualization skills to study human behavior on social networks.

Internship goals: As a student with an anthropology background, I'm always looking to expand my research skills when it comes to technology and people, and be a part of solving important problems. I saw an opportunity to see how I could use my data manipulation, analysis, and visualization skills to help us better understand how people have reacted to the pandemic. 

My UMSI advantage: I've appreciated how open professors at UMSI are to working with master's students. This past academic year, I was able to assist Professor Libby Hemphill with a data-oriented social media research project that prepared me to do my REMS Fellowship research. This experience prepared me to collaborate on a complex social media research project. I developed better data manipulation and analysis skills, better instincts for how to troubleshoot snags in the research process, and better ways to ask questions about human behavior on social media. The MSI program's core cores in programming and data analysis, manipulation, and visualization also helped me build foundational skills I was able to leverage this summer. UMSI's REMS program was one of the reasons I decided to come to Michigan--it was an ideal opportunity for me to develop as a researcher.

Kayj Garrison

Kayj Garrison, MHI

Internship: Tattle Civic Technologies, Misinformation Repository Project Intern

Top takeaways: The internship was an archiving project, our team composed a literature review on misinformation types and found a gap in the studies to address. We had access to different datasets of misinformation articles that circulated in Indian social media. Our project's focus was on COVID-19 misinformation. 

In our literature review, the misinformation types we found referred to format (i.e. modified photos, miscaptions) and not the top-level categories we needed for our project (i.e. medical, entertainment, politics). I learned about ontologies and taxonomies, and the limited yet growing studies on misinformation. I learned how to use card-sorting, a tool used in UX research. I learned how to work with an international team remotely and asynchronously. I learned about Indian culture and norms, through engaging with the misinformation articles.

Internship goals: To create a taxonomy for misinformation types, to learn about archival science, to manage and organize databases.

My UMSI advantage: UMSI connected me with the internship opportunity after the GIEP program was cancelled. The project had U-M alumni supervising us, they were familiar with our programs and school culture. The coursework at UMSI gave me database management experience, and Python coding skills which I used in the internship. 

Karen Bates

Karen Bates, MHI

Internship: MITRE Corporation; Health Economics and Policy Analyst Grad Intern

Top takeaways: I was able to work with both data scientists and policy analysts to study the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. The experience illustrated the importance of being able to convey results to a wide audience with varying degrees of comfort when viewing charts and interpreting results. I also learned how to translate broad research questions into actionable data analyses that could be completed with the resources and information we had available.

Internship goals: Two goals I had for my internship were to learn how to use Power BI and to have a better grasp of policy changes since the implementation of the ACA. I'm still just getting started with Power BI but I have learned more about health policy than I ever thought I would be able to grasp.

My UMSI advantage: My data science classes with the School of Information taught me the technical skills to work with our data scientists and the team at the Career Development Office gave me the confidence to apply and then excel during the interview process. I appreciated having the support of the larger UMSI community as I worked through the process of applying, interviewing, and eventually accepting a position while transitioning to online courses and dealing with the uncertainties of the  COVID-19 pandemic.

Yuehan Wang

Hannah Wang, MSI

Internship: Facebook, Product Design Intern

Top takeaways: My summer at Facebook Reality Labs has been amazing. I worked with a wonderful team and mentor, delivered impactful design work and grew a lot as a designer personally and professionally.

Internship goals: My goals were to improve my product thinking, interaction design and communication skills. Through the internship experience, I gained great mentorship on those aspects and made impactful work which I am proud of.

My UMSI advantage: The project-based courses equipped me with practical methodologies and ways of thinking, which I found super helpful in my internship. The resources offered by the Career Development Office such as mock interview and resume services are also helpful.


- Kate Cammell, Writer UMSI