Co-Op Experience • 7 minute read


Before we start...

What is WillowTree?

WillowTree, a TELUS International Company, is a premier, full-service digital experience agency. They design and build mobile apps and websites, launch personalized and automated marketing campaigns, and do it all with the latest in Generative AI and machine learning. WillowTree’s client roster includes Fortune 500 companies such as T-Mobile, Marriott, Allianz, Dexcom, PepsiCo, FOX Sports, Synchrony Financial, Domino’s, and Manulife.

4 months never flew so fast 🥺

A short summary

In the summer of 2023, I had the incredible opportunity to be an intern at WillowTree, a company known for working with big clients like FOX, PepsiCo, T-Mobile, and Allianz. It was a fast-paced four months where I got to dive into three exciting projects: AllTrails, T-Mobile, and a top global money transfer company which I can’t specify due to NDA 🔒

Working at WillowTree was a big shift for me. Up until then, I was used to designing in-house products within a company, so stepping into an agency environment opened up a whole new world. I learned a lot, especially about communicating effectively with clients and being really thorough with my wireframes. Presenting to clients and potential clients really pushed me to refine my public speaking skills and to ensure every detail in my designs was spot on.

One of the highlights was the project for T-Mobile. We were tasked with creating a new platform for their store employees, and we had just three weeks to pull it off. It was a whirlwind of presenting our designs and tweaking them based on the client's feedback. Initially, it was a bit nerve-wracking, but the experience taught me so much. The best part? Our team took a road trip to Washington state to interview a T-Mobile employee. Along with my team of talented UX Designers, I learned firsthand how crucial user research and insights are in shaping a successful product.

The internship wasn't all work, though. The social aspect was just as memorable. We were a group of five interns, and our bond went beyond typical co-worker relationships. We played ping-pong every day 🏓 and often grabbed dinner together after work 🍽️. They weren’t just colleagues; they’re my family & support system, and I am beyond grateful to have met them in this internship! 💚

The valuable lessons that I picked up during my time here

Key takeaways from this internship

Excelling in client presentations

During my time here, I got the fortuante (and nerve-wracking) opportunity develop and refine my skills in presenting and pitching projects to external clients. I learned the art of effective communication, the importance of tailoring messages to the audience, and the confidence needed to engage with clients. This experience taught me the nuances of agency work and the impact of persuasive presentations.

UX Research immersion

Diving deep into UX Research for the first time was a transformative part of my internship. I gained hands-on experience in various research methodologies, understanding user behaviors, and translating insights into actionable design solutions. This deep dive not only enhanced my research skills but also provided a more profound appreciation for the role of data-driven design in creating user-centric products.

Precision under pressure

The internship put me in high pressure situations, where delivering flawless work was paramount. I learned to manage tight deadlines and high expectations, honing my ability to work efficiently without compromising on quality. This experience taught me resilience, time management, and the importance of maintaining composure and focus in challenging situations.

4 months, 3 different projects

So... what did I work on?


Designed new social & trail discovery features to pitch to AllTrails, a prospective client.

↓ Read highlight below

T-mobile 🔒

Identify opportunities to simplify and centralize the employees’ digital experience (under NDA).

Reach out for password →

Global money transfer company

Finding opportunities to improve the current online money transfer feature on the mobile app.

Not available for public
Project highlight 🏔️

Exploring social and trail discovery innovations for AllTrails, a prospective client for WT.


🤔 So many good outdoor trails... how do I choose? Where do I even start?


Living in BC has its perks. With hundreds of amazing outdoor spots accessible to anyone and everyone, nature is just a step away from your home. However, with the abundance of options also comes the heavy burden of researching and choosing which trails fit to your requirements.


🥾 Provide options for users that wants to do some outdoor activity. It has to be low-effort and quick.

💛 Quickly connect hikers with random trails based on their preferences.


Sprint planning

Me and my mentor (Ashley) started this project by meeting and setting up a plan for each sprint to define our responsibilities and expectations of each other during this exploration project.

Being more involved in UX Research (ft. July Sosebee)

For this project, I specifically wanted to be more involved in UX Research— hence I got the wonderful opportunity to get paired with a Senior UX Researcher (July) to dive deeper about it through first-hand experience.

Foundational research

Since we had total freedom of exploration, we initially narrowed down our scope to our own personal experience of using the app. This provided us with a framework that we can expand upon during the research phase.

Whiteboarding session, scoping, & high-level ideation

We began with an open-ended brainstorming session, using a whiteboard as our canvas to freely explore ideas and possibilities. This collaborative effort helped us lay the groundwork for what was to become a robust and user-focused design process.

Creating low-fidelity prototypes for concept testing

These early prototypes were crucial for visualizing our concepts and preparing for user testing. By keeping them low-fidelity, we were able to iterate quickly, focusing on the functionality and user flow rather than getting caught up in design details. This stage was instrumental in bringing our ideas to life and setting the stage for practical evaluation.

Crafting a test plan & interview script

Tasked with forming a test plan and interview script, I followed July’s guidelines closely. The script needed to be precise and unbiased, avoiding leading, open-ended or yes/no questions to ensure we gathered meaningful user feedback. This experience taught me the nuances of crafting neutral language in research settings.

Conducting in-person concept testing session

As I interacted directly with participants, I observed their reactions and gathered immediate feedback. The hands-on approach allowed me to probe deeper when necessary, clarifying responses and gaining richer insights. One memorable moment was when a participant struggled with a feature, sparking a discussion that led to an unexpected but valuable insight. This direct engagement not only enriched our data but also highlighted the importance of observing real-time user behavior and adapting our approach on the fly.

Synthesizing the findings

In synthesizing the research findings, I focused on identifying key insights from user feedback and discerning patterns. This analysis led to the creation of targeted action items, directly addressing the identified user needs and pain points. This crucial step effectively bridged user feedback with specific, practical improvements in our design process.

Wireframing & prototyping

Based on our synthesized findings, I then hopped on Figma and started turning mere ideas into actual prototypes ✨


Introducing: Trail Match

Feeling adventurous but don’t know where to go? Worry not— with Instant Match, discovering new places that fits your adventure type has never been easier.

Answer a short questionnaire

It takes less than a minute to complete, with question that are crafted to maximize context-gathering from the user.

Get instantly matched with trails based on your questionnaire

Discover new trails that you’ll love. Get out there. Just like that.


Originally, we wanted to pitch it to the AllTrails team, however due to some unforeseen structure changes and priority shifts within WillowTree, I didn’t get the opportunity to do this as I was moved to the T-mobile team. However, with the prototypes finished, it would be a waste of good effort to leave the project as is, hence I decided to do an asynchronous user testing via Slack to gather feedback on my design and here’s what people said.


Project Takeaways

Even though the project lasted for just over 3 weeks, I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I have never thought of experiencing before.

Creating & following a script for concept testing

Diving into UXR and concept testing alongside a UX Researcher was a new challenge for me. I learned the importance of crafting a script with precision, using neutral language, and avoiding leading questions. This experience opened my eyes to the subtleties of scripting and the impact it has on gathering unbiased, valuable user insights.

Embracing the freedom to explore solutions

The project provided a unique opportunity to explore design with complete freedom. I developed a strategy to navigate this open-ended landscape, breaking down the project into manageable chunks. This approach helped me create a structured framework for innovation, guiding me to draw meaningful conclusions from a spectrum of ideas.

Adapting to the fast nature of agency work

Initially, the goal was to pitch the concepts to AllTrails, but internal shifts at WillowTree led to my reassignment to the T-Mobile team. This taught me about the fluid nature of agency work, contrasting with in-house product development. I learned to adapt quickly to changes and embrace the varied opportunities and challenges that come with it.

You’ve reached the end. Thank you for reading!