Summer Intern Zach Turner Dec. ’17 Creates Accessible Websites at Walla Walla Web Weavers in WW, WA

This summer I have had the pleasure of returning as an intern with the Walla Walla Web Weavers.  I am working as a Web Technician. With a year of additional knowledge under my belt I feel like a different person than I was last year. My responsibilities are much different and I am learning every day.

I have been working on making websites responsive (so that they can be viewed easily on any size screen) and ADA compliant so that people with disabilities can still use these sites. Most of my effort has gone towards the Walla Walla Public Schools website.

My proudest accomplishment so far has been dealing with PDFs. I was given about 200 PDFs and a task: convert them all into HTML documents. A coworker found an online site that does just that, but it only does one document at a time and requires a bit of copying and pasting. My first thought was an anecdote I learned from Professor Davis D.R.Y. or Don’t Repeat Yourself. I decided to query the wise and powerful Google. Luckily, I’m not the first person to have this problem. I found a python library that could do exactly what I needed, but it too only worked on one document at a time. The major difference is that the python library had a command line interface. I was able to write a command line script that converted all 200+ PDF documents at once into HTML documents. It’s a simple and small tool that can even be used by non-programmers.

The most challenging aspect of my experience this summer has been learning how to balance my time, because WWPS is not our only customer. Time, efficiency, and budget are also forces I am working on balancing. I have been forced to figure out how to provide the amount of services that they have paid for. This requires making things functional before beautiful. Sometimes I have to move onto a new task before I feel the last task is perfect. Understanding how to gauge the price and value of my work is difficult, doubly so when the tasks to be appraised have not been done before.

I am thankful to see the business-logistic side of being a Web technician. Being well-rounded is a skill that I highly value. Whitman has helped me become a well-rounded student and person. This internship has helped me become well rounded professionally. I am learning how to create websites and e-commerce sites as well as how to appraise my time and effort.

I am grateful to the Student Engagement Center for financing my professional education; and to the Walla Walla Web Weavers for showing me a new side to being a web technician. Of course, I would have been completely happy coding all day. I now understand that would not enough to give me the skills of manage myself and the value I create.  I am thankful for these growing skills and this internship experience.

Experiences like Zach’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff

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