Author Archives: Laura Leebove

About Laura Leebove

Laura Leebove is a senior copywriter at General Assembly. Her writing has been published in Billboard Magazine, Men's Journal, The Billfold, Village Voice, and more. She lives in Brooklyn.

Making It in UX: New User Experience Designers Share Lessons From the Field

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UX Design Denver Jobs General Assembly Students

Every industry — from tech, to finance, to retail — needs user experience (UX) designers. These master problem-solvers work to create on- and offline experiences that put users’ wants and needs first.

Harnessing skills like user research, wireframes, and prototyping, UX designers have a unique perspective when it comes to understanding the interactions between users, business goals, and visual and technology elements. For companies, their work fosters brand loyalty and repeat business. For consumers, it means frustration-free online experiences, intuitive mobile apps, efficient store layouts, and more.

When you have the perspective of a UX designer, “you start to see design gone wrong everywhere,” says Beth Koloski, who teaches the full-time User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) course at General Assembly’s Denver campus. “You stop blaming yourself for not understanding badly designed software.” She says she admires when someone gets design right because she knows “how incredibly hard it is to make something easy and seamless and actually get it out into the real world.”

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Salary Strategy: Tips From a Hostage Negotiator

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Chris Voss Never Split the Difference Book

The tech industry is nothing if not competitive. As startups, mom-and-pop shops, and Fortune 500 companies fight for top talent, developers, designers, data scientists, and more find themselves in a mad dash to get in the door.

Once they’re there, an offer may be a testament to their technical skills. However, the true mettle of one’s professional prowess lies in securing the salary you want. When you’re in the throes of negotiating for that number, don’t sell yourself short. Instead, ask yourself: What would Chris Voss do?

During his 24 years in the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, Voss used expert verbal and psychological tactics to defuse and control more than 150 international hostage cases. Many of the high-stakes situations were a matter of life or death — with rescues ranging from military contractors captured in Colombia to journalists kidnapped in Iraq and Gaza.

Now, he empowers people with valuable negotiation strategies to contend with tough professional and personal circumstances. As the founder and CEO of the consulting firm The Black Swan Group, he advises Fortune 500 companies through their most challenging negotiations. And in his book, the illuminating Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, he reveals how powerful language, a “pleasant persistence,” empathy, and listening can give you an edge in getting a promotion, buying a car, consulting with a partner, and beyond.

In this book excerpt, learn Voss’s concrete tips for turning an employer into an ally and negotiating your next salary.

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How to Break Into a Digital Marketing Career

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Digital Marketing Career: How to Land a Job

With digital media surpassing TV as the largest channel for ad spending in 2016, digital marketers are more important than ever. Through clever concepts, smart storytelling, and a keen understanding of audience behavior through analytics, these data-driven brand specialists move business forward through strategic email, paid search, social media, and beyond.

Recent data from General Assembly’s Credentials division — which helps companies determine the capabilities of team members and potential hires through assessments and more — suggests that digital marketing is an open playing field for anyone who can acquire the skills needed to succeed.

But once you have the skills, how do you land the gig?

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Inside the U.S. Defense Department’s New Tech Startup (P.S. They’re Hiring)

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Defense Digital Service Eric Fanning Army Chris Lynch

Former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning (left) announces the creation of the Army Digital Service at a recent event at General Assembly’s NYC headquarters, alongside Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch and journalist Jeff Jarvis. Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Crisp.

National security and cybersecurity are growing concerns for many Americans, especially as talk of hacking and digital espionage dominate headlines and rattle daily life. Protecting the country and developing tools to keep citizens safe are top priorities for the U.S. government, and, in recent years, it has turned to top tech talent to rapidly innovate, problem solve, and find security vulnerabilities. This is particularly true within the Department of Defense, whose progress its staffers admit has been slowed down by outdated tools and processes that lag behind private tech companies’ capabilities.

That’s where Defense Digital Service (DDS) comes in. Since launching in late 2015, the program — a branch of the government’s tech startup, U.S. Digital Service (USDS) — has worked on projects involving cybersecurity, veterans’ medical records, cutting-edge GPS systems, and more. DDS’ cybersecurity initiatives Hack the Pentagon and Hack the Army (known as bug bounties) invited civilian hackers to search for vulnerabilities within five public-facing government websites, then rewarded them in cash for their findings.

Now the Army has its own dedicated team called Army Digital Service, which launched in December. Continuing the pioneering work of DDS, it will leverage tech expertise to solve inefficiencies related to Army recruiting, veteran affairs, and more. Earlier this month, Air Force Digital Service launched as well, and the team’s agenda is currently in the works.

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John Rossman on How the Internet of Things Transforms Businesses

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Amazon Way on IoT John Rossman Interview

Author and tech-industry veteran John Rossman, whose new book takes a deep dive into the Internet of Things.

When it comes to enhancing customer experiences and improving business operations, the future lies in the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is the ability to take an analog or physical capability and create a digital version of that experience. For example, the Nest thermostat helps lower energy costs by using sensors and your phone’s location to adjust the temperature when you leave the house. Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator allows you to order groceries from FreshDirect right from its door.

From a business standpoint, IoT technology allows for smarter, data-driven models that enable higher efficiency and better outcomes. From a consumer standpoint, it can transform the way we think about some of our most routine daily actions. IoT technology requires elements of data science and analytics, product management, and user experience — and because of this, it’s a cross-functional industry with tons of opportunity for growth.

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John Rossman on How Amazon Harnesses the Internet of Things to Be Relentless (Book Excerpt)

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The Amazon Way on IoT John Rossman

John Rossman’s new book, The Amazon Way on IoT.

Amazon has long been at the forefront of emerging technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is no exception. IoT technology, which allows objects to send and receive data through internet connectivity, is changing the way we interact with everyday objects. For example, you can control your air conditioner through a mobile app or track your health stats through a wristband.

On the consumer side, Amazon introduced the Dash Button, which allows customers to reorder an item with the touch of a standalone button. For businesses, the eCommerce giant launched AWS IoT, a platform for developers to build, manage, and analyze their own IoT devices.

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A Year in Review Part 2: Diversity, Access, and Social Impact

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General Assembly Social Good Black Girls Code Workplace Diversity

This year we partnered with Black Girls Code to increase access to STEM education. Photo courtesy of Black Girls Code.

With a mission to close the global skills gap and help people pursue work they love, General Assembly strives to create opportunities that impact a vast range of communities.

This year, we were proud to voice our support for access to education and inclusive hiring in the media. We spoke out about promoting computer science education through the Computer Science for All Initiative, and released a white paper on skills-based hiring. We partnered with many innovative organizations to make a difference in the tech sector, launching new campaigns and programs to promote equality in startup funding, champion computer science education for kids, help New Yorkers get well-paying data jobs, and much more.

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A Year In Review, Part 1: New Campuses, Courses, and Corporate Training

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General Assembly Campus Expansion 2016

General Assembly students at our NYC campus.

Let’s get straight to the point: 2016 has been huge for General Assembly. We’ve expanded our global community into new cities and launched beautiful, new campuses in locations where we’re already thriving. Our catalog of full-time Immersive programs grew exponentially, with four new courses that are transforming graduates’ careers in competitive tech fields around the globe. We also released our first audited student outcomes report, a detailed read that takes a close look at our Immersive graduates’ key demographics and job placement success rates. (Spoiler alert: they’re great.)

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Tim Ferriss and How to Develop Mental Toughness: Lessons From 7 Titans

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Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans book

Tim Ferriss, bestselling author and entrepreneur.

Committing to a major life change can be scary, especially when it comes to your career — but inspiration from those who have made their way to the top can go a long way in overcoming obstacles and leveling up. Through his bestselling self-help book The 4-Hour Workweek, massively popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, and more, entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss has helped thousands of people design lives and careers they love.

Throughout his work, Ferriss has gleaned motivational insight from leaders in business, sports, entertainment, and the military, homing in on the habits, mentalities, and strategies they use to excel. He’s compiled some of his best learnings from those conversations into a new book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.

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InVision on Creating GA’s User Experience Design Course

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UX Design Invision General Assembly IBM

A user experience design student at General Assembly student works on a user flow.

There have never been more opportunities for user experience designers: In 2015, U.S. companies posted nearly 30,000 openings for user experience roles — up 15% from 2011 — at an average salary of $99,177.

The market demands top-quality talent, and training toward industry needs has never been more vital. At General Assembly, we accomplish this by partnering with industry powerhouses like IBM Design and prototyping platform InVision to build curriculums that directly serve the needs of companies while empowering individuals with relevant skills. Our full-time User Experience Design Immersive leverages our partners’ expertise across market and content to ensure the most effective learning experience available in the field. The numbers prove it: 99% of GA’s Immersive grads get hired in their fields within 180 days of starting their job search.

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