Cornell University
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Weili Shi, InfoSci Major '13

What are you doing now (job title, company, location)? 

I'm an Associate UX Designer at Workday in Pleasanton, California.

I support the Spend area of their Financials product and also design for the data visualization team.

Why did you decide to choose Information Science for your major?

I picked Information Science as a major because of its interdisciplinary approach to technology and because of my developing interest in user experience design. Especially in the realm of UX design, I think it's important to understand how social and cultural factors impact how people use technology, and IS offered me the ability to explore those influences while simultaneously building a strong technical foundation.

Did the program meet your expectations?  Why?

Absolutely. The breadth of courses in the major let me set up my courseload to best suit what I wanted to do after graduation, but also take a lot of classes that let me look at technology and design from a variety of perspectives - not just through an HCI lens.

Did you feel you had a clear-cut goal either before or during the program?

I didn't really know what I wanted to do before I entered the program. I knew I was interested in technology, but wanted to do something more right-brain-leaning than programming. The HCI courses were a catalyst - I knew I wanted to go into design after that, and then it was all about taking advantage of the opportunities that IS offered to let hone both my design skills and technical know-how.

What courses did you take that have helped you most in your career? 

I think the HCI and Advanced HCI courses were frontrunners for most helpful courses because they gave me all the knowledge I needed to try to break into the UX industry, as well as projects that ultimately became portfolio pieces. The two Computer Game Design courses gave me additional portfolio pieces and experience with pretty much everything that I encounter in the field today - cross-discipline collaboration with programmers, presentations, business writing, time management for tight deadlines, and design challenges (not only limited to UX problems). 

Were there other experiences that were part of being an IS student that have helped you in your career? 

I did research with the Social Media Lab over two summers that included some mobile development - now I do a fair amount of mobile UX design at work, so having that background was helpful.

What advice would you give to a current student in the program?

Take advantage of everything that's offered as part of the major. If you're a programmer, take a design course. If you're a designer, take some programming courses. Out in the field, you'll almost certainly be collaborating with people across a lot of different disciplines, and it works out best when you can understand where they're coming from. And take at least one project-based course (preferably more, or maybe even all of them) - they'll give you a great amount of practical experience with teamwork and project deliveries that will definitely apply in the workplace.