As a job-hungry graduate student, I was peripherally aware of UXPA-DC, but I never thought its events were meant for me. I always assumed it was an organization for “real” user experience and usability professionals to get together, hobnob, and that I wouldn’t fit in. Luckily, I was proved wrong.
My internship supervisor was involved with UXPA-DC and he always encouraged me to check it out as a way to network and get plugged in to the growing field of user experience. His enthusiasm and unwavering intent to include me in UXPA-DC’s activities eventually overcame my inhibitions, and I finally attended a User Experience/Web Professional Speed Networking event co-hosted by UXPA-DC.
Thinking it would be an informal opportunity to meet lots of UX professionals and hear about the work that they’re doing over a beer, I just hopped over to RFD after work with the mindset that I was going to loosely organized happy hour. Boy, was I woefully under-prepared. The speed networking event was a structured, rapid-fire event with one purpose and one purpose only: to get people jobs. Even though I had no business cards on me and my “elevator speech” was unrefined at best, the event was incredibly productive and life-changing. I had the opportunity to sit down with employer after employer in three-minute intervals to tell them about my professional interests and giddily listen to them say those three little words that are music to any grad student’s ears: “We are hiring.”
I came away from the event with a huge stack of business cards, multiple contacts, and job leads. I was contacted the next day by the UX Architect at BoxTone, a tech start-up company, who I particularly connected with. I went in for an interview at BoxTone the next week, had a job offer the next day, and am now a happy member of the UX team at a tech start-up company. For any students looking for a job who are interested in UX, I would definitely recommend checking out UXPA-DC’s events because in my experience they produce more real results than any other networking event I’ve been to.
Molly Schwartz is the Information Strategist on the UX Team at BoxTone, a mobile enterprise management company. In September she will begin work on a project to make digital information usable and accessible as one of the Library of Congress’ National Digital Stewardship Residents.
UX Posters and Discussion at UXPA 2013. Photo credit: Tom Tullis/UXPA International (flickr)
After four amazing days of user experience workshops, panels, discussions, UXPA 2013 has come to an end. The opening keynote presentation by Noah Kunin, John Yuda, and Dan Munz from the Consumer Protection Financial Board (CFPB) set the bar high for the rest of the conference. Their story of how the government can engage the public in a discussion fit perfectly with the theme of the this year’s conference: collaboration. By relating to people using the human story, or in simpler terms, having a conversation with others, CFPB is reforming the public perception of what the Federal Government is capable of doing. Brilliant.
There were over 50 sessions over the course of the conference, and my biggest regret is not having a quantum mechanical solution to being in multiple places at once to have heard them all. Thankfully, a number of the sessions were recorded and I count myself among the many who look forward to listening in on some of the other talks when UXPA International releases those recordings.
A few tips and takeaways:
Collaboration sometimes means working outside your comfort zone. Even with strange bedfellows. (Navi Radjou)
Accessibility isn’t just about making your site 508 compliant. Did you know that step-by-step instructions on maps were an accessibility accommodation? (Whitney Quesenbery)
As we get better with UX, we see more problems with content. (Kerri Straub)
Four rules for creativity from Leonardo Da Vinci: 1. Strive for quantity 2. Defer judgment (both positive and negative) 3. Seek new combinations 4. Use your imagination. (Brian K Sullivan)
Read everything you can, keep an open, empathetic mind and learn things that you were not taught in school. (Ginny Reddish)
Remote testing allows easier access to participants in natural environments and hard to reach participants. (Jennifer Romano Bergstrom)
Always do a observer debrief after each usability test session. S/he’ll appreciate it. (Kyle Soucy)
If you weren’t able to attend this year’s UXPA 2013 conference, or just want a recap of the highlights, be sure to check out the #UXPA2013 information on twitter to get some of the best takeaways and discussion that happened. I’m sure you’ll find all the more reason to attend the UXPA 2014 conference in London!
Keynote speech by CFPB on collaboration for the greater good: how a new government agency changed the face of financial experiences. Image taken from Tom Tullis/UXPA International (flickr)