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Tag Archives: design career

Interview with UX Student: Shane Silver

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Shaina, or just Shane, is a UX designer here in Los Angeles. Below, she talks about her experience taking classes in UCLA Extension’s UX program.

  1. Tell us about how you got interested in UX, and why you chose UCLA Extension.

I guess in order to tell you how I got interested in UX I’ll have to start from the beginning. I graduated university with a degree in Journalism/Media Studies thinking I would become the next Barbara Walters. I was able to land a job as an obituary writer in San Diego and soon realized I was starving, literally. Sharing half a room with four other people in a two-bedroom apartment, barely able to afford rent and/or food was.. eye-opening. I taught myself how to code (thanks MySpace) and landed a gig as a back-end engineer (coding in PERL and Regular Expression). After about a year and a half I knew I wanted to transfer into Front-End Development. Being able to create websites and not stuck in Terminal’s Homebrew all day sounded like a dream come true. With a lot of late night studying and really pushing myself I was able to land my dream job at NBCUniversal/Fandango as a front-end developer. I worked there for around two-and-half years, and while I was there I was able to interact with our UX/UI Team. Immersing myself and asking millions of questions I knew UX/UI was really the career I wanted to shift into. I was fortunate enough to take UX 1: Introduction to UX Design with Thomas at UCLA Extension. While taking his course I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Easier said than done, no one wants to hire a front-end developer for a UX/UI position. I bit the bullet, took a pretty heft pay-cut, moved to the Bay Area and became a Product Designer. The year I spent up there gaining my UX knowledge and soaking up every single interaction, layout, design, feature, cat .gif was probably the hardest year I’ve endured in my life. I left the Bay Area and relocated back down to sunny So Cal and now work as a full-time UX/UI designer for a tech start-up company called Laurel & Wolf. Recently, my company sent me back to UCLA Extension to start training in native mobile app design which I took with the ever-talented, Julia. I have never been happier in my life and I really have UCLA Extension, Thomas, and Julia to thank.

  1. For someone who is new to UX, what should they know about getting started?

Think lazy. I read somewhere that the best designers are the laziest people (metaphorically, of course). And I couldn’t agree more. The best designs come from those who want to make a service/platform more intuitive, easy, and accessible for others to understand and use.

Also, do not take anything personal. When I first became a product designer I remember being told this nugget of information, not yet understanding, and my first client meeting I was ripped to shreds. I cried quite a bit when I first started out. But I picked myself up and immersed myself in the UX/UI world: signing up for daily newsletters, reading, going to meet-ups, collaborating with other designers from different industries, participating in UX challenges, and working with multiple client projects… you grow a thick skin. Clients/stakeholders aren’t here to coddle you with how “ok” your designs are. They’ve come to YOU because YOU ARE THE EXPERT. If your user flows don’t make sense or your layout doesn’t work responsively it’s not a ding to your ego it’s a challenge to your skills. And that’s the beauty of skills.. they’re ever evolving!

  1. What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?

All of them! The professors (I’ve had Thomas and Julia) are the most passionate individuals you’ll ever meet. They truly love what they do and further love sharing their knowledge. This is what makes the UX/UI Community amazing. Between their amazing personalities, Thomas’ vast knowledge and Julia’s understanding of the industry and users’ psychological process, this power-house team is an unstoppable force at the UCLA Extension! Both are so humble and genuine one can not help but to become just as excited as they are about learning User Experiences and User Interfaces!

  1. What would be your dream job?

No need to dream it when I’m living it! Is it really a “job” when you love what you do?

  1. What are you working on right now?

I had the honor of redesigning our homepage which we just launched with our new company rebrand a few weeks ago. I can not be more proud of our Product and Dev Team for being able to launch such a wonderful product together!

Check out her final project for her UX: Mobile class below!

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Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Molly McGlone

L’Olivo project for Design II by Molly McGlone

 

Besides impressing us with her excellent portfolio, we were also delighted to learn Molly landed her dream job at Williams Sonoma only days after finishing her coursework in the DCA program.  We recently caught up with her via email to discuss her thoughts about the program, pursuing the design field, and advice for those of us just getting started.

Tell us about your background and what led you to pursue a design education?

I have been interested in design for as long as I can remember.  Growing up I was really drawn to interior design, although I always considered that just a hobby.  I ended up studying Sociology as an undergraduate at UCLA, not knowing what I wanted to do after. I had an itch to be more creative, though.  I interned with an event designer and producer and also for a wedding designer in LA.  I fell in love with weddings – the details, the design, the branding, the paper – it really excited me.  I worked on blogs, storyboards, concepts, etc. and I increasingly saw the importance of a background in graphic design.  After much thought, I decided that was the logical next step for me.

Looking back, what are your thoughts about the DCA program and why did you choose UCLA Extension?

I researched programs and found that UCLA had both relevant course offerings and a schedule that allowed me to continue working while taking classes.  I was very interested in learning calligraphy at the time, and stumbled upon the work of Molly Suber Thorpe.  I read that she was a graduate of the DCA program, so I emailed her and asked her some questions about it.  All answers were positive and exactly what I wanted to hear before signing up.  The program ended up being perfect for me.  My instructors were phenomenal, my classmates were smart and creative, and the courses were very relevant to the real world.  The program was thorough, but I never felt like it was dragging on.

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L’Olivo project for Design II by Molly McGlone

 

What was your favorite class and why?

This is a tough one.  Design II with Henry Mateo is at the top, along with Publication Design with John Beach.  Both instructors really made my DCA experience what it was.  They taught us to think like designers and really pushed us to create amazing work. They were wonderful creative directors.  I actually wish I was still taking classes with them today!

Tell us about your current position and what led you there?

While I do love the wedding world, I wanted corporate experience when I finished the DCA program.  Williams-Sonoma was always a dream company for me; I felt like my style and passions were in line with their brand.  I ended up getting an interview 2 weeks before classes ended, and started working there right after I graduated.  I am a designer on the e-commerce team, so I design for web all day, everyday.  It is actually very different from what I thought I would end up doing, but it has been a wonderful experience so far.  I am learning a ton, and it is great to work on a large creative team.  There is a lot to learn from everyone!

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L’Olivo project for Design II by Molly McGlone

 

As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for your to feel passionate about it?

I definitely have a style and I always tried to stick with it when designing in class.  Henry used to tease me because I wouldn’t want to stray from it.  If I am not interested in what I am designing, it’s hard for me to be passionate and creative.  But ultimately, that is a problem a lot of designers face.  We don’t always get to pick our projects – we design for a client, not for ourselves.

Any advice for budding designers just starting out?

Keep designing!  Update your portfolio and have an online presence. Take the job even if you think it isn’t the perfect one.  You will end up learning something new and it will likely be something that will be very useful for you going forward.

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