A day in the life of a Twitter intern, with HCDE Master's student Alison Buchanan

Friday, September 20, 2019

Alison Buchanan, a Master’s student in HCDE, is wrapping up a summer Internship on the user research team at Twitter.

Buchanan recently used a Twitter takeover of the @TwitterResearch handle to walk us through a day-in-the-life of a Twitter intern, or ‘Tern.’  

Buchanan knew she wanted to work for Twitter, and said she found the internship opportunity through their website. “I’ve always been interested in free speech,” she described. “Twitter provides people with a voice to express themselves and engage in global conversations. I wanted to do research to help further that mission.”

Buchanan’s internship project explored ways people might start conversations on Twitter. “My team thought that perhaps people bring links and screenshots to Twitter to do this,” she described. “I conducted qualitative interviews with Twitter users to figure out ‘why’ behind this kind of sharing behavior. The results of this study led to me planning a second qualitative study, which will dig into an area that seemed like it could be worth pursuing.”

Buchanan said her HCDE coursework in Qualitative Research Methods (HCDE 519) was particularly helpful for her to know how to plan out the research project.

Buchanan had many highlights during her summer at Twitter, but she said one top moment was working with the other design and research interns to help lead a design workshop for Girls Who Code. "I had a lot of fun adding in research specific material to the curriculum," she said.

Buchanan said she is looking forward to returning to HCDE this autumn, catching up up with her fellow classmates, and welcoming the new cohort of students.