GRAND RAPIDS – When Heather Jensen began her internship at Grand Rapids tech company Appropos in September, she didn’t expect that by week three, she’d be working directly on one of the most sophisticated, cutting-edge wholesale business-to-business platforms in the world. Neither did she expect her internship to open doors to new ways of thinking about technology and software, from the psychology of user interface design to how more women should be coding.
“The best thing about my internship at Appropos is that I’m getting real world experiences in understanding user interface and user experience design that just aren’t taught in schools,” said Jensen. “The second best thing about my internship at Appropos is how much fun everyone has doing some of the most interesting work in business-to-business software in the world, and in a fast-paced environment. This is one of the most motivated, talented group of people I’ve ever been around, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to learn skills that are reinventing computer software technology.”
Appropos’ inaugural internship program ends Jan. 7, 2016.
Appropos is the developer of Envoy, a groundbreaking global wholesale business-to-business (B2B) platform with tools and services designed to help companies create dynamic content, increase their speed of sale, and keep them closer to their customers. A real-time, cloud-based platform, Envoy provides the technology companies need to grow their wholesale business.
And Jensen’s role is to redesign Envoy’s home page and strengthen its functionality by reducing navigation to help users find what they need quicker. Working with Appropos’ senior user-interface/user experience designer Meri-Megan Moore, Jensen is learning how to approach problems from unusual angles.
“I’m taking a page from the Appropos playbook for how we approach challenges,” Jensen, 27, said. “That means doing back-end research and seeing what’s behind the screen to try and figure out what will work to improve a home page.”
One small yet unusual element that’s factoring into her design work: The psychology of colors on user experience with websites.
“The psychology of web design is really interesting and I’m always asking myself what colors will get people to buy more things or place more orders,” Jensen said. “Blues, greens, flatter oranges all work well and help improve the user experience.”
A native of Cadillac, Jensen is a junior in Davenport and plans to graduate in 2017. She lives in Comstock Park and traces her interest in computers to her youth.
“I’m always talking to women about how rewarding working in computers, software and programming is,” Jensen said. “I feel like I’m going against the grain. I also feel that women bring valuable perspectives to design and that’s why I always tell my girlfriends that they should get into coding.”
Her internship manager, Moore, says sharing skills with students like Jensen is critical to the industry and to Appropos.
“One of the reasons we started this internship is that we’re a rapidly growing company and we want to be sure we can recruit talent, and young talent like Heather represents the future of our industry,” Moore said. “The best part about mentoring Heather is helping her step back, identify the problem and find all the possible ways that problems can be solved. In a way, helping provide her with a roadmap also helps all of us at the company rethink how we approach problems, so our internship is in a sense a two-way street.”
Moore shares Jensen’s drive to get more women into software design and the larger computer and technology sector.
“I think it’s super important for women be involved in software development and design,” Moore said. “Acting as a mentor to Heather allows me to share what I know and help her continue to learn, and maybe pass along her skills and know-how to other women down the road.”
Moore volunteers her skills and knowledge in software and design with various Grand Rapids area community initiatives, including Bit Camp, a daylong program for 7th and 8th grade girls to learn about software development.
“Heather’s experience is a great example of the relevance and real-world experience internships create for students,” said Kevin Stotts, president of Talent 2025, a CEO-led effort to ensure an ongoing supply of world-class talent in West Michigan. “Internships are a great opportunity for employers to get to know students and help them apply what they learn in the classroom.”
Formed in 2012, Appropos is a rapidly growing company that today employs 22 people and serves some of the largest U.S. and international companies.
Envoy B2B is a wholesale content and eCommerce platform for your entire team. Our tools and services are designed to help you create dynamic content, increase your speed of sale, and bring you closer to your retailers. Envoy B2B provides the technology you need to empower your sales reps and support your retail channel.