Career Q & A

How does working in UX fit into your career trajectory?

Like many people in UX, I’ve had experience in a handful of fields. My work has tended to center around people or technology. I’ve served in AmeriCorps, coached low-income students, and coordinated programs for a nonprofit. On the other side, I embraced my long-standing interest in technology by learning full-stack web development. I’ve come to realize that I do my best work at the intersection of people and technology. I consider it a good sign that as I learned more about UX I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t I doing this all along?”

What makes UX exciting for you?

I’ve always been multi-interested. Since UX combines methods from several fields, I’m excited by the prospect of using my technology, design, and social science skills. I also enjoy the role of creative problem-solving in design.

As digital experiences have improved, user expectations have risen. I appreciate the challenge of aligning business goals with creating products that seamlessly integrate into people's lives.

How does your web development experience inform your UX work?

With my coding experience, I’ve been able to design interfaces that work with the capabilities of the web. This includes:

  • Building components that follow naming and state conventions
  • Understanding data retrieval and how data flows through an application
  • Weighing the technical trade-offs of design decisions
  • Integrating designs with libraries, frameworks, and design systems

How is your customer service experience an asset to working in UX?

It’s one thing to know that customers have a problem, but it’s another to speak to customers while they’re upset about a problem. While working on a large retailer’s customer service team, I learned about common pain points in e-commerce. Customers often have problems around site navigation, checkout, and payment methods. Despite their ubiquity, it's difficult to craft these features in a way that's intuitive to all users.

I’ve learned to ask customers the right questions to probe into their deeper needs and attitudes. Customer service reps have a strong sense of the most pressing issues a product faces, and they can report on these issues in near real-time.

A direct customer service line is something that many loyal customers highly value. But if more customers can help themselves, representatives can focus on complex tasks that truly require a human to fix.

What skills did you build from recruitment and canvassing?

I recruited for an AmeriCorps program and canvassed for a statewide initiative. To spread my message, I had to quickly gauge people’s reactions to what I was saying. Then I adjusted my content and tone as necessary. In user interviews, it's essential to ask questions that will effectively check what people are thinking and feeling.

What did you do while working for nonprofits?

In an AmeriCorps program, I served as a college access coach for a diverse group of high school students. During that time, I honed my ability to teach and break down complex topics. In interfaces, this has helped me clearly communicate core messages and concepts.

I also learned how to encourage productive participation in workshops and classes. It’s important to incorporate the insights of the product team into the design process, and workshops are a key way to achieve that.

Finally, I was a coordinator of a large program for a food bank. I built trust with key members of community organizations and helped them see the value in partnering with our program. I put these skills to use to advocate for the user-centered design process.

What useful things did you learn in your formal education?

In college, I studied psychology and anthropology in a self-designed major. During that time, I learned how to:

  • Conduct ethnographic field research
  • Interview groups about sensitive topics
  • Analyze data from quantitative research
  • Recognize patterns of learning, perception, and cognition

Knowing these concepts allows me to research more accurately and design for how people think and work.

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