UX Strategy: Successful persuasion of my highest stakeholder and the entire company

I did something unbelievable last week. I successfully persuaded the founder of a 150-person medical device company to adopt the entire User Experience process within their product development cycle. I felt both super accomplished, but I also felt very anxious because I did not know how everyone else was absorbing the information. I was able to do that because I’ve worked on or been exposed to almost every single product from both the capital equipment and the consumables (catheters) side. This gave me advantage of understanding the entire product ecosystem of my current company.

My boss was the first person I’ve convinced long ago when I started applying UX in the medical device manufacturing setting. I have preached UX for a long time and my boss recognized the value of UX after a while, not just from a prototyping/usability testing standpoint, but also from a user research perspective – understanding what users and other stakeholders want and need.

Back in mid-April, I took my first field trip to a hospital case with our Sr. R&D Director, our Sr. R&D Manager and one of our R&D Engineers. During this case, I’ve gathered so much information in such a short, informal meeting with the physician and lab technicians. This includes observations (looking at how doctors move in and out of the catheter lab, how they use different tools, the environment/space of the catheter lab, etc.) and interviews with both the physician and the techs (informal chatting in this case). This gave me enough information to come up with a brief user research example.

It was a long day for me, but it got me so excited because I gathered a bunch of notes that could be useful for understanding our users (to start with…). My boss then encouraged me to create a presentation because we could show them a lot of insights that they have neglected or ignored throughout the entire product development process.

I created the presentation…pretty much with the intent of educating what user experience exactly is, and how it should be very applicable to our own process. It wasn’t just user experience information by itself, but I incorporated all of our product relevancy including what we’ve been doing well, what we could improve on, what we should do and what we should not do, from a UX perspective.

At the same time, our founder was having big team meetings with all of the teams in the company, and that was my first real conversation with him (I’ve worked in this company for 3+ years — I usually shy away from management people…). During the meeting, I truly empathized with his passion to help patients and giving them good long term results so that they wouldn’t have to keep coming back to the hospitals for further treatments. At that time, I really felt for him and I really wanted to help him by giving him a different perspective of looking at business, product development and user experience. So, instead of presenting my PDF to one of the project teams, I ended up convincing myself to present to our founder, which was only our second conversation ever.

As a result of my UX Strategy presentation to the founder, the founder sent me an email copying the entire company a day later thanking me for enlightening him and showing him a lot of the underlying issues that we haven’t been addressing. And the best of all, I conveyed my message to everyone that “You are not your user!”. Also, as a result of this understanding, one of the new product development projects just got shut down by management because there were poor direction and no one on the team understood what the main users needed/wanted. The entire project basically relied on what engineers thought what the users would need, and frankly, it was just going to be another disaster if it were to move forward without change.

All in all, I think this was one of my biggest personal accomplishments because I was able to convince the founder who is very famous (invented the first over-the-wire balloon catheter used for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, AND founded at least 5 companies in his career) and successful in the medical device world, and that I was able to educate others within the company on how UX would be very critical to any product development.

The world is consistently changing; the next thing you know might be completely different. Unfortunately, what used to work back in the days may not work anymore (or it’d take a whole lot more effort). I believe we should always keep up and adapt to how the world is evolving.

Job Searching Mystery Solved (to get noticed/response at least)

For those of you who had messaged me before, I know you guys are doing your Master’s Program related to HCI/UX in either DePaul or other universities. Most of you found and read my blog because you were in a similar situation as me (found your passion in UX and switching from a completely different field) — now this is going to help you when you do graduate, if you don’t already know this (if you did…I wish I knew you a month ago lol).

I pretty much did a 5-whys root cause analysis on job searching for the past month. After trying to find out why I wasn’t getting any response (including my previous posts about matching 80% job description keywords), the one main thing that really truly matters (at least for now) is:

Your Current Job Title

This took me countless of meetups, meeting people, talking to friends, reading others’ portfolios and Linkedin, and tweaking my portfolio content/format to find out. It was all because of my current job title – Sr. Engineer.

As some of you may already know, I have been doing UX in medical device manufacturing as I deal with users every single day, now I’m getting more involved in the software/digital side which is even better. So, when I first started job searching, I tried to put as much UX-related achievements and description on my resume/Linkedin — while these achievements and metrics are great, people don’t care/realize they are impressive unless your title somehow has “UX” in there.

How I found out

I found this out after talking to some people who are also trying to switch into UX but had only taken courses like General Assembly/Udemy/Coursera, their portfolios are not nearly as comprehensive as those of the students who graduated from their masters in HCI/information science — and surprisingly, they were getting calls/response (but they don’t pass the first phone screens). One thing I noticed was that they had these following keywords in their current job titles: User Experience, UX Designer, Freelance UX Designer, etc. After that, I talked to my friend who is a lead UX Designer and she told me she did the same thing way back when she was trying to get out of marketing — and it works great.

After hearing this, I had considered asking my boss if he could change my job title as I’ve been doing UX research/design in manufacturing, but I thought to myself — I should be proud of the things I have achieved as an engineer. But, the dilemma is that, if I don’t try to change the title, then I wouldn’t even have a chance to talk to anyone who is hiring UX people. So, without completely changing my job title, I put “Sr. Engineer / UX Designer” on my resume and LinkedIn instead.

The following day, I got 2 email response from jobs I applied to and 1 recruiter who found me asking me if I were interested. AND they said my portfolio looks great because it shows my thought process rather than just graphics (even though it was the same content with only little improvements). There it is – magic…! (This is just to get noticed…I’ll write about the interviewing part next time.)

So, I learned that people look at you, your profile, and your portfolio differently all because of a job title. I was shocked, and actually kind of disappointed in this recruiting industry. Mainly because I believe many people have the capability to do more than just one set of tasks — a lot of the female engineers that I know are amazing at graphics, design, baking, crafty and artsy stuff. Just because they are engineers, it doesn’t mean they are not creative…and vice-versa.

Anyway, I leave this to you — UX can be applied to any digital/physical products and processes as long as there is human interaction, so apply what’ve you learned to your current role, so that you can brand yourself as UX professional in your job title.

I hope this will help you so that you won’t have to jump through hoops like me when you are ready to look for jobs 🙂

People jumping on bandwagons

Part of me is very happy that UX became such a big deal and that it is so popular. But another part of me is annoyed because I know a lot of people are doing UX because it’s hot.

5 years ago, nobody even knew what it was. I stuck through it because I’m passionate about it and that it fits my personality the best. I do it not because everyone else is doing it, I do it because I like it and it’s useful to creating products.

Now I see a bunch of competition with people wanting to switch from everywhere, just because it’s hot and it pays well (can’t argue with that now).

I want to use UX and what I learned to create meaningful products. I don’t just wanna do UX; I’d also want to help innovate. It’s the product I care most about, how influential it is and how it can help others.

Now I see every startup just trying to do “famous-company” meets “famous-company. I haven’t seen any innovations since uber came out long ago. 

Applications using AI, robotics, VR/AR could be very innovative, and I’m very interested in it, but like always, everyone is gonna jump on the bandwagon again soon, or they already have.

Whiteboarding Mock Interviews & Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

While I still have this fresh in my mind, I would like to share (and vent) my most recent findings:

Whiteboarding Mock Interviews

I just had a really practical and useful mock interview with two people I met in one of the Facebook groups (HH Designs). It was my second time doing a whiteboarding exercise (this time is online) and I must say, my heart was still pounding even though this was not real and very casual.

It was really cool because I got feedback on what I did good and what I need to improve/fix in terms of how I approached the challenge and my portfolio itself. I will update my portfolio again when I gather more feedback.

After the mock interview, I asked one of the interviewee about his job searching experience since he has an interview soon. He too, did not get any response until he updated his software engineering based resume/portfolio to more design-based.

So after that, I started researching again, and I finally found one of the reasons why I don’t get many phone calls or portfolio visits.

I found the evil Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a type of recruiting software.


Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

I’m pretty pissed off right now because I found out that this type of evil recruiting system filters out resumes if they don’t have enough keywords that exactly match those of the job description. You’d have to match roughly 80% of the keywords from the job description to pass. WTF. Ohh and if your job title doesn’t match the title of the job description. You’re f*ed.

So, no wonder I haven’t gotten any phone calls or many views on my portfolio, except from people who actually look at resumes themselves. No one could explain that to me. I thought I got all the UX relevant keywords on there, but no.

A HR friend once told me it is prob a numbers game and you just have to keep applying because they have way too many job applications and resumes each day. Which is true, that’s probably why tools like ATS was born.

So, unless you’re a software engineer, or someone who knows how ATS works, or you’re like me who tracks # of visits using Google Analytics and wondering WTF this is happening, you will probably never find out why. And because of that, it would be based on luck and time…a long time.

Not only do I have to beat the human part in convincing them that my current profession is directly relevant to UX (which I still need to practice my presentation and communication skills), but now I’d have to beat robots too.

So suppose a really bad candidate (for a particular job) who knows this trick gets tons of phone screens and interviews, but hiring managers could just be wasting their time when they actually meet or talk to the person.

You can prob imagine how potential great candidates could never even hear from anyone within the company or even recruiters because of this. Oh and btw, this is not just for UX, this is for every job position (if the companies use any type of recruiting tracking softwares).

What is this world getting to? How is technology helping? It’s just making things more and more complicated. No wonder recruiting has become so difficult and broken nowadays. And no wonder companies would have to hire so many recruiters…I feel like it’s a Catch 22.

Challenges in UX Job Searching

Time to update!

My journey is definitely not over. I’m still a few miles away from the finish line, but that’s okay…I know I will be there eventually. These things have been running through my mind for the past few weeks:

  • UX resume, portfolios, online presence (yes I even reactivated FB for this).
  • UX meetups, FB groups, events, conferences.
  • UX applications, recruiters, job posts, job boards.
  • UX phone screens, interviews, questions, whiteboarding, etc.

To give feedback on the previous post, none of those job boards worked (i.e. Hired.com, Angel List, Indeed/Indeed prime, etc.). It was partly my fault too because for my first portfolio that I designed/prototyped/coded from scratch, my coding skills were not up-to-date for the responsive designs nowadays (looked perfectly fine in a browser that has a width of 1660px or higher, but looked like a mess when browsers are smaller than that width). So I had to re-design using a different responsive HTML5 template; my new portfolio and resume are done now. I’ve heard different people saying different things about my portfolio (some really like it and some just okay with it – completely subjective). I will improve it slowly, but right now I need a break from my portfolio.

Anyway, job searching has become way more competitive than I remembered. I remember when I applied for jobs 1-2 years ago (I barely started my masters program then), I still got phone calls/emails for interviews (which I was quite surprised), and I barely had a complete portfolio with all the UX knowledge I have now (but of course still a lot to learn once I get into the tech industry).

Now? None. None from applying online. What happened?

  • I don’t see very many visits to my website/portfolio (data from Google Analytics)
  • Maybe the UX standards have become much higher since UX is being recognized as critical now?
  • People don’t even respond on Angel List anymore…
  • Were my job applications all filtered out? — I have all the keywords on my resume btw.
  • Did they get lost in piles and piles of applicants?
  • Overflowing of recruiters/agencies?
  • Always thinking there are better candidates out there?

The ironic thing is…there are so many UX Designer/Product Designer jobs out there in the SF Bay Area…

So, after a few weeks, I changed my strategy. I became very aggressive in my job search by going to meetups, networking everywhere, asking for internal referrals (from people I met/helped previously and they were nice enough to refer me 🙂 Thank you if you’re reading this!), connecting with UX-specific recruiters, signing up for conferences/hiring events. I started getting a little response back. We will see what happens in the next few months…hopefully I’ll get to give you some good news then 🙂 I can’t give up now!

One thing I wanted to share is that there is a CHI Conference in Denver in May 2017. I didn’t even know about these events until I learned from friends I met at a UX meetup. DePaul is honestly really bad at connecting students with big companies or connecting anyone who is not in Chicago (online students are neglected obviously).

Anyway, I’m really excited because I’m going to meet up with some of my friends/classmates and get to learn more HCI-related topics! I really like networking because I learn a lot of interesting information when I talk to people with different knowledge. It also helps distract myself from all the job searching stress 😛

Travelling with parents & Portfolio work-in-progress

Long time no post! Still non-stop busy even after graduation.

Travelling with parents in Asia

Right after graduation, I took 26 days off from work to take my parents to Taiwan/HK/China. Probably one of the most stressful trips I’ve ever been on, and was not one bit relaxing because my parents did not get along. Also the planning part was not fun either. Needless to say, I will never ever travel with both of them together ever again. I thought it would be nice by treating them to an Asia trip since they’ve always talked about it, but nope, probably shouldn’t have done that.

On the bright side, the trip itself was nice because we got to see a lot of beautiful sceneries in Taiwan, and our private driver from RoundTaiwanRound was very nice and accommodating. I highly recommend this travel agency if you are travelling to Taiwan and the cities outside of Taipei. We went to Yilan and Hualien as well, which are cities 1-3 hours south of Taipei. Yilan has a lot of hot springs hotels for relaxing if you’re into that, but in my opinion, the more eye opening city was actually Hualien. The touristy locations in Hualien were absolutely beautiful and breathtaking:

RoundTaiwanRound tries their best to customize your trip to what you want to do. The cost is slightly higher than that of a traditional travel agency for the amount of days we went (8 days 7 nights), which makes sense since it’s customized and you get a private driver. This also means that you could set your own schedule and you don’t have to wake up super early everyday following the tour’s set schedule.

We also got to visit my college roommate in Taipei outside of the tour days, my cousins in Guangzhou (China), and my dad’s childhood friends in Hong Kong. The main part of the trip was food — lots and lots of different delicious food to choose from:

Unfortunately, these delicious food ultimately gave me an aftermath of upset stomach/mild rashes. I believe it also has to do with the climate, weather, food type, air quality, and eating out everyday. It took my body a month to recover, which really was not fun.

 
Portfolio – Work in progress

After I returned from the Asia trip, I wanted to rest for a bit, so I didn’t touch my portfolio for like 2 weeks. When I was ready to start my portfolio, I began to realize how time-consuming it was and how much content I needed to summarize and cut out in order to create a coherent portfolio.

Before my trip, I drafted out a sitemap of what I wanted to include in my portfolio website to start with. So, when I started designing the portfolio (I used Adobe Xd), I followed my sitemap. The design part took a 3-4 iterations before I got to the look & feel I like; then I started putting the content in. Now I’m done with the design, I’m starting to code it with HTML5/CSS3 using the Unsemantic CSS framework.

When I designed/coded the website in my previous courses, I thought it was pretty easy and I got it done pretty quickly. However, for some reason, I dread doing my portfolio, both the design part and the coding part. I still feel burnt out — working 14-16 hours everyday and weekends just like when I was in school. I ended up deleting pages that are only nice-to-have from my original design (i.e. blog page, contact page), as I still have the majority of the must-have content under my portfolio page (8 projects, which means 8 long subpages I still need to code). I set myself a loose deadline (around end of January/early February), so I could finish and start applying for UX jobs. I already procrastinated for 2 weeks at the beginning of January, so I didn’t want to procrastinate any longer.

Potential avenues of Job Search

I’ve done a bit of research into what type of companies I’d like to apply, and what I would use to apply.

There are companies with great perks that I’d want to apply for, like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., but I would mainly want to apply to companies or teams that would value true user experience (which would probably be hard to find). I suppose I should probably just evaluate if/when I do get any response.

These are the places I would use to apply:

Indeed/Indeed Prime: For traditional job search/application, I would probably try this as it has so many jobs available. Indeed Prime is something I want to try as well — they claim that you just have to apply once to be considered for multiple jobs at great companies. I just want to see if it actually works.

Angellist: I probably mentioned this before, but I would use this one for finding any small & medium startups — I actually got quite a few responses when I wasn’t even qualified (at the beginning/middle of my masters program). This brings you directly to the hiring managers, which is nice because you don’t have to waste time on talking to recruiters who don’t even know anything about UX.

Hired.com: This is a non-traditional job search platform, which I also tried a year or two ago. At that time, though, they were still quite new and geared towards developers only. I want to give this one a try again as there is really no harm in trying.

You pretty much fill out your profile, and the Hired.com professionals screen your profile to see if you’d fit for their clients. If you do pass the initial screening, you’d be entered into a “batch” for companies to connect with you for interviews and such, then companies would compete for you.

I actually like this concept a lot because the recruitment process nowadays is completely broken, especially for UX professionals. I’ve realized that recruiters don’t really know what they are actually looking for, so I’d like to avoid talking to recruiters if I could. Hired.com claims to make the whole process transparent, and they do most of the work for you. I’ve done quite a bit of research on this company and the people who actually had success getting a job had a lot of positive things to say about it. So, let’s see what happens.

 

Done Done DONE – Graduation

Today is the day I finished my last quarter of DePaul’s Masters Program in HCI. Finally. 2.5 years – Done.

Tough 3 months (work-related)

This quarter has been really tough, not because of my classes, but because of how intense and demanding my work has been. Never have I ever encountered such a complicated problem to solve before.

At work, I had been assigned another CAPA (Corrective Action & Preventative Action) on one of the manufacturing yield issues on a product. My coworkers and I literally looked at every single feature, components, interactions, and possibilities of why or how the devices would fail. However, nothing seemed to yield consistent results (either all fail or all good).

Our brains had been mentally exhausted by getting excited [on maybe finding a potential root cause] and getting disappointed [by dwelling on the problem] in a continuous sine wave for three months now (and I’ll explain what I learned from HCI450 on why it’s so mentally draining).

A few days ago, while I was dwelling on not being able to find the root cause, something suddenly popped in my head, and I was able to link back to another incident/concern raised 8 months ago, and I found my light bulb. I started using physics concepts (specifically Hooke’s Law) I learned from my engineering undergrad and applied to this real life problem. I also consulted my brother on a general scenario about springs (since these things are proprietary) and how they work. Things just started becoming clear…my gut is telling me that I’m finally heading towards the right direction. Hopefully it’s right, or else…we’re back to Square 1. I’m going to cross my fingers for this.

HCI450 (Foundations of HCI)

This class had interesting concepts, but had a bunch of busy work. I did learn a lot because my professor literally forced us to read the whole book since we had weekly (timed) quizzes. Anyway, so from what I was telling you about me being mentally drained, I can literally use the HCI450 concepts to explain why I’m so mentally exhausted.

Our minds have 2 systems: System 1 and System 2. System 1 has the “old brain” and the “mid brain”, while System 2 has the “new brain”.

  • The old brain is in charge of any sensory data such as what you see, hear, touch, taste, etc, and your reactions from these senses are controlled by the old brain.
  • The mid brain is in charge of being aware of the social cues around you, and also controls emotions, motor control, alertness, etc.
  • The new brain is in charge of problem solving and rational decisions.

System 1 is unconscious, automatic and really fast, whereas System 2 is conscious, takes a lot of effort and attention, and slow.

So, during the last 2.5 years, I have to use my new brain (System 2) for both work and school to solve problems (roughly 80 hours a week + weekends). Yea, my new brain is now telling me to go to hell because it is extremely overworked.

But hey! I retained this information I learned from HCI450 because I could apply it to myself and relate to it. Great! I will never forget this concept now 🙂

HCI594 (Capstone)

This class had busy work too, but probably the best class because my team and I got to make our own schedule, plan, discuss, and execute from start to finish. We incorporated everything we have learned in this Master’s Program, and built a good foundation before we even started thinking about designing or prototyping.

We created a fashion mobile app called PermuStyle. I will show Axure links at a later time, but I wanted to work on my portfolio first, but when I finish, I will post everything here to showcase everything I have worked on.

 

NYC Trip after Summer Quarter

First off, I got an A in PM430! Umm…I wonder if he curved the class/test, because when I calculated my grades, I needed a high A on the final exam to get an A in the class. Anyway, I’m just glad that this class is finally over.

A while ago, my bf and I booked a trip to NYC right after I finish my summer quarter as a vacation because he and I desperately needed time away from work and school. It ended up being more of an adventure…a stressful one for the most part, but overall a bittersweet experience.

I’m actually glad we went, though, because we got to experience our first trip outside of California as a couple together — the good, the bad, the stress, the frustration, the laughs that make your stomach hurt, and most important of all, solving problems together while travelling.

We did good, we actually visited 95% of the places we planned on our itinerary. We lived like a NYC local for 7 days, and learned both the bus system and subway system to get around 🙂 Buses are the best in NYC, better than the subway in my opinion. We only used Uber for one round-trip from Brooklyn to Chinatown across the Williamsburg Bridge (only around $15-$20 each trip depending on traffic), and that was when we went to the bars to meet up with my bf’s friends.

  • Where we stayed
    • Stayed in an AirBNB apartment in Brooklyn, right outside of a B38 bus stop or 3 long blocks away from the Bedford-Nostrand Subway station.
  • Where we visited (not in any particular order)
    • Wall Street
    • Charging Bull
    • New York Stock Exchange (only saw the outside)
    • 9/11 Memorial (only saw the outside)
    • World Trade Center & the new mall
    • One World Observatory (only saw the outside)
    • Brooklyn Bridge (didn’t get a chance to walk on it, but saw it close by twice when we were in Dumbo)
    • Dumbo (in Brooklyn…very pretty)
    • oo35mm (a Japanese/Korean makeup store…it was okay)
    • Toy Tokyo (downstairs is full of Funko POPs…if you’re into that)
    • My Plastic Heart (another toy store, but not that much stuff)
    • Grand Central Terminal (very cool, old-school style)
    • Rockefeller Plaza
    • Time Square (bright bright street, just like the Vegas Strip! Lots of cheap things on the side to sell, like paintings, caricature, photos, etc. They always post “Last Day Sale!”)
    • Central Park (there are fun street performers! but beware, you might get selected as a participant and forced to pay $$. Also, before you go into the park, there will be a bunch of people with rickshaws harrassing you to try for a ride around central park)
    • Canal Street / Chinatown
    • Hotel Chantelle (a lounge with downstairs dance floor…casual attire)
    • Trump Tower (super elegant…Starbucks didn’t have a bathroom or didn’t let us use their bathroom, so we went into Trump Tower)
    • H&H Midtown Bagel (was not good…at all…had way better authentic bagels in the Bay Area)
    • Staten Island Ferry (Free for all passengers! Took it to pass by the Statue of Liberty to see)
    • East River Ferry (only $4 per person, took it from Dumbo to Midtown, very relaxing when taken during the day)
    • SPiN (an awesome awesome Ping Pong bar underground. You can rent a Ping Pong table for $50 per hour…we didn’t do that because we only had 2 people, but with a large group, it’s well worth it. They actually have like competitions/games for visitors, so we got a free awesome show out of it that night)
    • Washington Square Park (near NYU…very pretty)
    • IBM Watson (just passed by the company)
    • M&M World in Time Square (just like the one in Vegas!)
  • Where we ate (yummmm…again, not in any particular order)
    • Luke’s Lobster (it’s a chain…you can find it anywhere. very good lobster roll, but I’d spend my $$ in Burger & Lobster instead…see below)
    • Burger & Lobster (A whole lobster [steamed or grilled] with a side of salad and delicious fries – only $20!!!!)
    • Juliana’s in Brooklyn (best Pizza I’ve ever had in my life)
    • Prince Street Pizza (my bf liked the small crispy Pepperoni on the square pizzas)
    • Mermaid Oyster Bar ($1 Oyster and $1 clams for happy hour from 5pm-7pm! Their fish tacos were delicious too!)
    • Da Claudio (it wasn’t that good…but maybe I’m just not crazy about Italian food. great service tho)
    • Coffee Project (Nitro coffee and Affogatos…not that good really…)
    • Baohaus (Yummm finger foods…try the Chairman Bao!)
    • Cha-An (waste of $$$ and horrible Japanese food…in my opinion)
    • Eataly (a place with a bunch of Italian goodies…didn’t eat there tho)
    • Chelsea Market (lots of different foods there to explore, didn’t eat there either…)
    • I CE NY (close to NYU, but super cool ice cream rolling concept, the ice cream was pretty good too…not the best, but fun to watch)
    • Ippudo NY (Great ramen, but I’ve had better ramen in the Bay Area :P)
    • Joe’s Shanghai (Best Chinese Food in NY?? I don’t think so…known for their soup dumplings, pretty good, but again, I’ve had better in the Bay Area)
    • Momofuku Nishi (we went here just to try their “Impossible Burger”, which is a plant-based burger that “bleeds”…it was okay, pretty tasty, but the texture is very mushy. These plant-based meat companies got a lot more work to do to imitate actual meat)

For the entire trip, we probably spent around $1,000 per person including flight, AirBNB, all the places we visited and ate at, and transportation. It was a pretty fun and exciting experience; NYC has so much to see, eat, and visit, and we only saw like maybe 30% of it…next time 🙂

2 more classes to go!

Apologies in advance for this long read! A lot has happened since my last post. Got an A in HCI 522, but lots of ups and downs after that…but let me start with my ECT 436 class 🙂

ECT 436 (PHP Programming)

I finished ECT 436 a couple weeks ago, and earned an A 🙂 Most importantly, though, I learned a lot…not so much from the class itself/professor, but I did a lot of researching on Google, Stack Overflow, Github, etc. to figure out any coding issues, mySQL database connection issues, and Sequel Pro SSH issues. The project goal was to create a search database website (like a mini Yelp).

For our class assignments, we had to use Microsoft Access 2003 because the ectweb server at DePaul is really old, but I didn’t have Microsoft Access 2003/2007/2010. So, every time I needed to do an assignment, I had to borrow someone else’s computer. For my project though, since I have my own webhost/server (it has been sitting there for a while…I’ve been paying it to keep the domain live hoping someday I would make this website real…), I decided to put it to use.

What the professor had us do was a much easier process to connect the database because everything was pretty much setup for us by the school, so I had to figure out how to connect everything together before I could even start on my class project.

I chose Sequel Pro as my tool to manage/upload databases to the web server. It is a mySQL database management for Mac OS X; the UI is awesome, and it’s quite easy to use (once you get everything setup, that is). I actually had to spend 12+ hours trying to talk to Siteground’s technical support asking them why the SSH (secure shell) tunnel connection wasn’t working from Sequel Pro but was connecting from my Macbook Pro’s Terminal app. None of us could figure out the issue. Eventually, after googling for another couple days, I used the “Standard Connection” on Sequel Pro to connect to Siteground’s server instead of the SSH connection.

Because I had my prototype/designs already done in my previous HCI 522 class, it took me only a few hours to code the front end. I was surprised that my CSS3 is still pretty good since I haven’t coded in a while. The back-end PHP code took me a while since it requires a bit more thinking, but I eventually got it. Now it functions as a real website that can search real companies’ name, address, phone number, etc. (which are all public info btw).

I would really love to share the website, but this is more of a personal project that I would like to make it real one day (when I have time…), so until then 😛

PM 430 (Fundamentals of IT Project Management)

This class is probably the least interesting course to me. While the concepts are useful, my brain keeps rejecting the information…probably because it is too boring. I just took my midterm a few days ago, and it was not fun…lots of short-answer questions, which asks you to list AND describe what each PM process group/knowledge area is. My hand was dead after writing. The exam was set for 3 hours, but I finished in 1.5 hours mainly because I just wanted to finish and leave. I’m so over this class already. Too bad I still have two more weeks of this AND a final. Hopefully it’s more about calculations than writing, because that would be more interesting.

I’ve managed lots of projects throughout my 8 years of engineering career, and have learned a lot. I think a lot of the projects I managed were successful was not because of the concepts, but because of my personality and my persistence in finishing something I started. I’m a person who wants to get into the problem and solve it or learn along with the person who’s assigned to that particular task. I’m a person who CAN do the work if the assigned person is not available (but…there was one time that I didn’t have the skillset [programming/software stuff] to do the work, but the project went smoothly because the assigned team members were very self-disciplined). If it was purely a full-time project manager role with just monitoring and chasing people to ask if they’re done yet, I will feel like I’m out of control of the project. I’d feel like there’s nothing I could do to help because the only thing I could do is to ask “when will this be done?” and to play around with the schedule or possibly delay the project. Yea…perhaps project management is not my cup of tea.

HCI 450 (Foundation of HCI) and HCI 594 (Capstone) are my last two classes in The Fall. I already applied for graduation, and I should be done by the end of November 2016. I can’t wait!

Job Rejection from CA Technologies

I went to a UXPA meetup, and met a bunch of people. There are two people that I remember the most: an ice cream lady and a guy who was standing in line when we were getting ice cream. The ice cream lady was also a career changer, but a more drastic one, from being a medical professional to selling very delicious homemade ice cream. She was very sweet, and definitely very inspirational, because I probably wouldn’t have the courage to change careers like that.

The other guy who was standing in line with me was very nice too. He actually messaged me after the meetup for my background and portfolio. He already knew I was a career changer, so he didn’t ask me for a full-blown complete portfolio, which I was thankful for. After messaging back and forth, he got me into the first round of interviews (phone), the second round (take-home assignment), and then the final round (onsite). It was a good experience, and that was my very first real UX interview that I’ve ever been to.

I thought I did okay, but unfortunately, the team that I interviewed with didn’t think that I have any experience in the software field. So, I ended up getting rejected. I was pretty bummed when I first heard it, but I also kind of expected it because 1) I saw them posted the same job again on LinkedIn, and 2) I didn’t think my journey to switch to UX would be ending so quickly and easily.

Like I probably mentioned before, everything happens for a reason, and maybe better opportunities will come and will be better for me. Intuit would be the type of company that I would really, really want to get in, because I think they are probably in the higher stages of UX maturity. I want to continue learning (the right way), and getting into a company who has a UX department as important as their finance/HR departments would be the best place to start my UX career.

UX Careers Handbook by Cory Lebson

I’ve been updating quite frequently lately, probably because I’m getting motivated again, but anyway!

I just got this booked called “The UX Careers Handbook” by Cory Lebson. I found this when I was reading the LinkedIn news feed; I think Cory just published it not long ago too. You can buy this book from Amazon.

For those of you who are reading my blog, this is probably exactly what you need 🙂 It’s the first book that actually talks about the career part of UX. It’s pretty easy to read, and he tells you what you need to know. It’ll definitely help me when I do look for a UX job after graduation.