Q&A: User Experience Design Graduates

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Last month, we hosted a few of our User Experience Design Immersive graduates at our NYC campus. It was great to catch up with them as they shared their experiences while going through the program, as well as the exciting work they’ve embarked on after graduation. The panel included:

·      Todd Torabi, UX Designer at BBDO (@ToddTorabi)
·      Candace Majedi, UX Designer at Isis Mobile Commerce (@CandaceMajedi)
·      Dabney Donigan, Junior UX Designer at Big Spaceship (@dabneydoni)

GA: Tell us a little bit about your background.

Candace: “I like to say I’m a jane of every trade. I started out as an electrical engineer, then worked at the government building weapons. I got a Masters in advertising, started working at BBDO as an account planner. Then I had a baby, then I started my own business [revolving around delivering manicures]. It was successful. Then I learned all about analytics, and got a job at NBC universal. Then I left to do some soul searching, and found GA somewhere in there. At the end of the day, I wanted to be creative, and UX lets you do that. It lets you put on your business hat, and put on your design hat, and put on your technology hat. So I enrolled here, and ended up getting a couple job offers.”

GA: What was your experience like in User Experience Design? What was your favorite, and least favorite part about the program?

Todd: “I loved the program. Graduating from college, I wasn’t sure which route to go. This program made me feel like I was around like-minded people. [The best part] is the community at GA. I know that sounds cheesy, but you can really build a network here a lot faster than just working at a company. Least favorite part…I wish we had had more time to build a portfolio, but now [with the revised program] you have that component built in.”

Dabney:  “The best part are the resources they have. The people, are phenomenal. The curriculum….you can tell they’ve put a lot of thought and work into it…. I’m genuinely surprised by how much I learned. The downside is that it’s up to you to determine your outcome. You know, it’s like everything else in life, things are what you make of them. You have to own a lot of the opportunities yourself, and you have to put in a lot of hours if you’re really gunning for a job. I wished we also would have had more personal time with our UXDI instructors to get more precise feedback on our progress.”

Candace: “GA is amazing. The people who came to speak during class were…the author of Tapworthy, a head designer at Microsoft. And they just give you their email address. They’re so accessible! Also, I still feel like GA is really invested in my success. The downside was not having the opportunity to give critiques to your partners.”

GA: Who else was in your class?

Todd: “A lot of people came from agencies. I was one of just a couple recent college grads. We were all really good friends. We went to karaoke every weekend. We’d go out together, get dinner together. We still keep in touch. One of my roommates now was in the class. For me it was a really great social environment, outside of a professional environment.”

Dabney:  “We had a good number of people in our class who just were not happy in the current field they were in, but wanted to use these skills that they loved.”

GA: How many came from design backgrounds?

Todd: “Probably, like, 7 of the 22.”

Candace: “I had no design background. I was a little intimidated, but it worked out fine.”

GA: Can you tell us about the interviewing process after you graduated?

Dabney: “I was shocked by how much in demand the UX job was. I had people emailing me from the GA Design Career Fair that night trying to schedule rush interviews. I had six job offers.”

Candace: “[There are multiple rounds, all sorts of tests, such as] ‘You’ve got 45 minutes. Design an app for runners.’ You get to practice [presenting your work] at this event called GA Design Career Fair, which happens twice during the program. So you get to practice explaining your portfolio before you interview.”

GA: Any advice to people who think they might want to take the program?

Todd: “The best advice I got was from our UX instructor Hong Qu, who was one of the first designers at YouTube. It was ‘Be yourself.’ Not in that weird cliché sense. But…. If you have a business background, play to that strength.“

Dabney: “Get everything done during class. You want to have your portfolio all finished and done when you graduate. Take advantage of all of the resources and environment while you’re there.”

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