This week, we are excited to hear from two of our iSchool Alumni! Career Services Student Assistant Michelle L. met with these INFO alumni to discuss their careers, the iSchool’s role in their journey, and the lessons learned along the way.
Justine Edrozo: UX Visual Designer @ Tibco | Informatics – HCI
Chelsea Le: Program Manager @ Microsoft | Informatics – Custom: Data Science & HCI focus
How did UW prepare you for your career? Was there anything from the iSchool or UW that you found most useful?
Justine: The iSchool’s group-based curriculum taught me foundational and hard skills I still use in my day to day. I also learned how to collaborate with different work styles, towards a common goal with a set timeline. No one likes it at first but if you’re working for a software company, you need to ship your product no matter what stage it is in. You need to get it done and work with many multidisciplinary organizations.
Chelsea: UW showed me that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or what experience you have. Everyone has a different perspective that can be brought to the table. UW and especially INFO really advocates for diversity of thought. In the tech and business fields, you collaborate so much. Everything I learned connects and adds to what I’m doing now.
What do you enjoy the most about your role? What is most challenging?
Justine: I love when you’re working on a project and you feel validated that you’re making a direct impact on the product and the customer experience. UX and technology is a very small portion of actually selling a piece of software. It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae. Stepping back to look at it from a PM perspective, or a C-suite perspective, looking at many products across your entire platform, that’s more challenging. Sometimes politics comes up too, which is the nature of working in a larger business. But that’s why it’s nice to remind yourself that your work actually impacts the customer experience by seeing your sales calls or outreach data.
Chelsea: I enjoy seeing what’s happening from both a bird’s eye view and up close. I work everyday with my developers and UX designers and also provide feedback to business leaders. As a product/program manager in tech, you bridge the gap between technical and business lingo. It’s cool to see both sides and help guide the conversation in a way that makes sense for whoever is at the table.
The challenge is, again, everyone has different perspectives. It’s good and bad that you can’t control what people do, what people think, and how people interpret things. You work with them to build that rapport and understand where you can meet them halfway.
What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?
Justine: Employers are always looking for UX designers, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. What I recommend is maintaining your networks. Networking doesn’t mean saying, “Hi.” Maintain relationships with people in industries or positions that you might learn from. If you have a professor doing research you’re interested in, stay in contact after graduating. Networking is how most people get their jobs: you know someone who knows someone who works at the company that you might be interested in.
Also, every company names the UX designer role something different: product designers, UI designers, visual designers. Cast your net wide. You might find a job listed as UX designer, when they’re looking for a developer, or a role isn’t listed as UX at all because that industry might not have the same vocabulary.
Chelsea: Reach out to people. Don’t take one person’s word, because the work varies, like if you’re a UX designer at Boeing versus Microsoft. If you can, do an internship, but it’s not too late if you don’t. My experience included marketing, retail, and IT. There’s not one path, so don’t try to fit the mold of what is expected. For example, I had to turn down a PM internship to study abroad in Korea. I was worried that would prevent me from being a PM, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity when I might not be able to later. I learned so much about people and culture I still bring up today. Explore, diversify your experience, and know your values. Take risks and don’t be afraid to stand out.
What is the best advice you’ve been given, from school or work?
Justine: As a UX designer and a designer in general, your work is always going to be critiqued. What keeps me grounded is that it’s never about you as a designer. They might say “I don’t like the design,” but you need to be able to poke and prod and say, “What is it about the design that you don’t like? Is it the color? Is it the shape? Is it the typography?” There’s always ways to read between the lines about what people are actually trying to say to you, even if they don’t know how to communicate it.
Also, don’t feel pigeonholed into your very first job. A lot of my coworkers went from one point in their careers to something totally different by the time I met them. You don’t have to find the one perfect job straight out of college. You have a lot of time left to figure things out.
Chelsea: Never let your situation limit what you can do and where you can go. Don’t let not knowing whatever coding language you see on the job application stop you from applying. Don’t let not getting into that major stop you from trying it out. Just because no one in my family worked in tech doesn’t mean I can’t. You can break those boundaries if you put in the effort and don’t let the odds or the norm stop you.
What have you enjoyed doing during quarantine?
Justine: Our dog has gotten super cuddly lately. He’s been spending a lot more time with us and it’s been nice being able to pet him whenever I want.
Chelsea: I started getting into audiobooks and learning how to cook more traditional Vietnamese foods with my mom. And working out! Running and whatever HIIT workouts I find online.
Snoopy Pic of the Week!
Snoopy would like to share this following quote by Octavia Butler:
“ Habit is persistence in practice.”
iSchool: More info and registration via iCareers
View recordings from past events on the Recorded iCareers Sessions page.
Career & Internship Center
TODAY! May 27th Resume Webinar; 1:30pm – 2:15pm
TODAY! May 27th Cover Letter Webinar; 2:30pm – 3:15pm
May 28th LinkedIn Webinar; 1:30pm – 2:15pm
May 28th Job Search Strategy Webinar; 2:30pm – 3:15pm
TODAY! May 27th, 5:30 – 6:30PM – International Student Panel: Fellowships for Graduate Study in the U.S.; hosted by The UW Graduate School. Register for Zoom Link!
Positions for Consideration
Spotlight: UW COVID-19 Innovation Internship
This is a paid innovation internship with the Seattle Foundation and Civic Commons.
Teams of three UW graduate interns (from Evans, Foster and the iSchool) will focus on specific impact areas, such as food, education, mental health and others. Metrics for these areas are included on the Civic Commons Scorecard. Each team will spend ten weeks, from June 22-August 28th, developing actionable Catalyst Projects that utilize the best resources available from companies, nonprofits, and governments to support and accelerate the COVID-19 recovery. The teams will also identify numerous other innovation opportunities that can be assessed and implemented by organizations across the Puget Sound region. This crisis requires that we think differently and activate the best resources from all sectors. In an increasingly resource constrained world, working better together and smarter is fundamental to successful outcomes.
- First year MBA, Public Policy Master’s student, Computer Science, or Information School student
- Strong demonstrated desire to make an impact
- Research and basic data skillsets
- Creative, entrepreneurial mindset
- $2,500 for 10 weeks
- This internship will be primarily virtual
- To apply, please send cover letter and resume to email@example.com
- Students are encouraged to form teams of three, representing all three schools. More info at https://www.newimpact.care
Product Design Intern (UX, UI), KiOS, Inc., Handshake
Cybersecurity Operations Analyst Summer Intern, NYC Cyber Command, Handshake
Business Analyst Intern, Impec Group, Handshake
Machine Learning Engineer Intern, Inspur Systems, Inc., Handshake
Cloud Quality and Reliability Intern (Summer 2020), Zscaler Inc., Handshake
Android Developer Intern – Remote, PagerDuty, Handshake
Did you know? All students in the iSchool Class of 2020 will have access to Career Services for one year after graduation, until the end of Spring quarter 2021. This includes scheduling 1:1 appointments, attending online drop-ins, and participating in iSchool career workshops and events.
Questions or feedback? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org | iCareers