UX Career Explorations

We are a group of UCLA graduate and undergraduate students broadly interested in the field of design. Sponsored by the UCLA Career Center, our main focus is the exploration of User Experience careers, especially as practiced by professionals with varying backgrounds.

Who We Are

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Jonathan Calzada

Jonathan Calzada is a doctoral student in the Department of Information Studies. Jonathan’s research investigates how disadvantaged students approach higher education, and how information technologies inform their conceptualizations of the academic environment.

Takeaway: As the role of digital products expands in the consciousness of 21st century publics, business organizations are increasingly adopting a human-centered design approach to computer software production in an effort to innovate and reach a broader consumer base. However, producing for dominant institutions and mainstream consumers often excludes more people than it includes thereby rendering a vast range of them invisible.

Cheryl Cordingley

Cheryl Cordingley is first-year MLIS student concentrating in archives with a background in web design and development.

This career exploration introduced me to the research component of user experience as well as a more intentional, human-focused approach to design. I learned about the many ways in which my previously acquired skills in technology and interpersonal skills may be useful in a UX position. Additionally, I found it helpful to identify the different specific positions someone trained in UX might hold. I learned not only about the benefits of a career in this field, but also about the ways in which a critical eye may be needed when undertaking research and design.

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Alex Gernes

Major: Cognitive Science Major, Specialization in Computing (4th year)

What I learned: These meetings helped to inform me about the various skills and backgrounds that comprise UX-driven people. The various UX interviews conducted allowed me to gain insight on how to better visualize and explain my previous experiences in a manner that is most appealing to UX industry members. I overall have greater clarity on the daily work operations of a UX designer and researcher, as well as confidence in pursuing a career in UX.

How my major connects with UX: I think that the quantitative research side of cognitive science is valuable in learning how to conduct user guided research in UX. Additionally, I feel as though user experience appreciates those who can think holistically and big picture, which I’ve definitely benefited from having such an interdisciplinary major. I also see Psychology-related fields like Cognitive Science and UX as both fields where the user/person is the center of problem solving.

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Peter Polack

Peter Polack is a doctoral student in the Department of Information Studies studying how computational power structures are expressed through visual and interactive forms.

Takeaway: User Experience design is an absolutely heterogeneous field that sometimes verges on being an ethical orientation as opposed to a discipline or a methodology. With attention to the world, User Experience designers have the capability to experiment with new ways of bridging boundaries between people and marginalized communities.

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Ashton Prigge

I received my BA from UCLA in 2015 and am currently specializing in Informatics within the MLIS program at UCLA. My research exploration includes information resources, human computer interaction, and content strategy. I see information interaction as having increasing relevance and power with UX reaching every facet of life. I currently work at UCLA’s Technology Development Group where I assist with data management.

What I learned: After talking with both a UX designer and a UX researcher within these workshops, I learned the practicalities of their work.

How Informatics connects with UX: Informatics and user experience are inextricably linked in the digital world. Both UX and informatics are expansive terms that capture much of our digital lives.

Josefina Madrigal

4th year undergrad, anthropology major, digital humanities minor

From the workshops I gained valuable insight into what UX designers and researchers do in their daily jobs. I also learned about tools I can use to create a portfolio and how to present research processes on a portfolio.

As an anthropology major I see a lot of parallels with the field of UX in relation to research methods. For example, anthropologists conduct ethnographic research which is essentially embedding yourself in a community and observing people. This is similar to the methods that UX researchers use when gathering information about users. The moderated interviews that we as a group conducted throughout the workshops are similar to the methods anthropologists and UXresearchers use.

What We Did

Our career exploration and inquiry adopted User Experience methods. As a group, we conducted participatory workshops and informational interviews. During our workshops we interviewed UX professionals, discussed relevant topics, and shared personal experiences in the field. The meetings culminated in data synthesis sessions and creation of this site to which we have posted our findings.

What We Learned

  • About the division of labor among User Experience professionals such as User Research and Design, as well as some of the implications within the production of technology or information as knowledge.
  • About resistance culture pertaining to a shift from predominating engineer-centric mindset to a design and research-oriented model. This included discussions about a UX Maturity Model.
  • About how standards shape the efficiency and affect production of software on the one hand, but may reduce agency and discourage creativity on the other.
  • About philosophies within the field of design such as those valuing semantics over syntax, theory over praxis, or those infusing curiosity into their ways of seeing, thinking, and doing, which culminated in the phrase “be curiosity” as an embodiment of that practice.
  • About accessibility in design which is to say the “User Experience of People with Disabilities” (Cordingley 2018). An overview of the different types of disabilities and considerations that are necessary in order to properly design for typically marginalized users. The presentation and discussions around this topic included methods and practices that are currently used in the field of software/technology development.
  • Advice on portfolio content and type of work for aspiring designers and researchers.
  • About specific work that UX professionals perform in the field:
    • UX Personas
    • Types of Usability Studies
    • User interviews and skills
    • App wireframe production
    • Data visualization skills
    • Sale skills as it pertains to stakeholder ‘buy-in’
    • The need for storytelling
    • The need for proper survey design
    • Considering ethics in all processes
    • Accessibility design