EDUCATION: USER-CENTERED DESIGN GRADUATE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

I have benefited tremendously from working with amazing people at Blink UX; they bring passion to their work, exude empathy, and deliver creative and excellent work to our clients. As I’ve mentioned in the past, they have inspired me to grow and pursue a career in UX research. 

During my time at Blink UX, I have assisted on numerous projects including several prototype usability studies, field research projects, a data analysis and survey study, a microenthnographic in-home study, a retail intercepts study, and most recently, an application usability study and an unboxing + mobile app usability study (where I moderated seven sessions, created video clips, and assisted with the initial and final reports for both). I have even constructed a large-scale physical prototype to aid with testing. Also, I have been frequently sought out to create video clips in support of final deliverables. 

 The large-scale prototype I constructed to support research. Read more about the benefits of recreating physical products in the lab  here . 

The large-scale prototype I constructed to support research. Read more about the benefits of recreating physical products in the lab here

These experiences have all been opportunities that have come organically to me over the past few years. On a few occasions I was involved from start to finish but most often I was brought in to support a specific piece of a project. Because of this I have obtained many ‘dots’ of knowledge spanning user experience work so I have chosen to connect those dots through formal education in the University of Washington’s User-Centered Design Certificate program.

In this program I will devote time to learning and going through the entire user-centered design process as well as focusing in specifically on usability testing. I view this UCD certificate program as another opportunity to surround myself with other successful UX leaders, be they students, faculty, or guest lecturers. I am confident the UCD certificate will give me the academic grounding, in conjunction with all my experiences and passions, to excel in a UX research career.

*Photo for by Mark Gsellman.

THE RIGHT PATH FOR ME

As I mentioned in the very first post, just over two years ago, realizing what I want to do (for a career) hasn’t been the most straightforward process and definitely hasn’t followed the most common path. But around three years ago I understood where I wanted to go and I started down the path to reach my goal: a career in User Experience. (You can read more about my background here and here.)
    
To get to my goal I knew that it was important to first finish my undergraduate degree. I also knew that in order to move into a lifelong, valuable, and enriching career in UX I would need to do extracurricular training in user experience practices.

In April of 2015 I began the task of completing my undergraduate degree though Washington State University’s Online Bachelor's Degrees program. WSU afforded me the opportunity to take courses around my full-time work schedule and offered coursework that I could shape to enhance my pursuit of a UX career while completing my degree. 

So, I began pursuing a Social Sciences degree with an emphasis in Administrative Studies, Communication, and Psychology. As I suspected, I was able to tailor my coursework (particularly in the communications and psychology emphases) in a way that has contributed to my goal of a UX career. For example, in one communication course I learned content creation in several mediums that have aided my reporting skills. Additionally, several of my psychology courses gave me insights on how to design, conduct, and report on research studies, which are a key part of the work I hope to someday do. 

On May 6th, 2017, I completed my first step and graduated, magna cum laude, from Washington State University. I heard my name called, walk across the stage, and received my diploma with a great sense of self pride and accomplishment. (I would be remiss not to mention my amazing wife, Beth, who has been a huge support to me while working full-time and going to school. Thanks Beth!)

With my degree completed I will be focusing on user experience practices to grow the skills I have and to learn new ones. In fact, I have started to shift into a user experience research role at my company. This summer I’m scheduled to be an assistant researcher on several projects. 

My path hasn’t been the most common one but it has been the right path for me and I’m excited for the next step in my UX pursuit.