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Interview with User Experience Graduate EunMi Kim

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate.

As a graphic designer, I have always been interested in technology and interface design. One day, my marketing manager asked me to redesign the company website and mobile app layouts. For this project, my final design did not come out the way that would be the best for the consumers because I focused too much on designing visual elements rather than functions of the website.

After reading about the UX design certificate of UCLA Extension, I know that it would help me find answers to why my previous design was not suitable for the consumer experience. (And it did!) The curriculum explained well what I would study from each UX course, and I was very excited to learn from professional instructors with many experiences.

What was your favorite course, and why?

My favorite course was UX II: Iteration. In UX II, I had the chance to build practical experiences of how UX actually solves problems from the user’s perspective. At the beginning of this course, it was very challenging to figure out how to approach the solutions, but I was able to find the answers by working together with other students as a group.

How are you using your certificate experience in your current professional life?

As a professional graphic designer, now I care more about the user’s needs from the products and services that I create as much as visual aspects of my design.

What advice would you have for anyone interested in getting started in UX?

The core of UX design is not a matter of style, but how it works, and it’s something we can always improve more. If you are often annoyed by things that were not designed in the best way they could be, this UX course might be right for you.

Interview with DCA graduate Novia Elvina

Congrats to recent DCA graduate Novia Elvina, who’s next step is the Master’s program in Human Experience Design Interactions at Cal State Long Beach.

Check out her design portfolio here and her UX portfolio here.

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I always had a passion for art when I was a little girl. My interest started from gaming, drawing, and creating my own book illustration/comic books when I was 8 years old. To be honest, I never pursued art as my passion because where I came from, those fields are not really encouraged by family or even the community.

Then, I flew to the US to start college. I realized in this land of opportunity, I could achieve my dreams and passion to do what I love as my professional career. Thus, I pursued Animation/Entertainment Art for my Bachelor degree at CSUF. After graduating, I worked with several companies as a Graphic Designer and a Graphic Artist. I really enjoyed my job, and I got to draw for 8 hours or more every single day. However, I realized that I’m nothing more than an asset of a big wall-art company, and a role like mine, is easy to be replaceable, as they weren’t supportive enough to sponsor my working visa in the US.

Long story short, I realized I needed some sort of certification at least before going back to my home country, since Animation is not really a successful career over there. That’s when I decided to go to UCLA Extension for DCA Certification because I never really had proper graphic design courses during my Undergrad years.

What were your favorite courses and why?

There were quite a lot of favorite courses at UCLA Extension. To be honest, I grasped more skills here than during my Undergrad years, but again, I’m not trying to compare or regret every choice I made because that’s what made me who I am today. I really enjoyed Entertainment Design with Jeff Aguila because not only did he show us demo and new skills that we should know for entertainment industry, but he also pushed us as students to think more or think outside the box. What I’m aiming is not to be the most skillful person in Photoshop/Illustrator/other softwares, but what I want to learn from him is how he thinks and sees a problem to solve it in a professional and creative manner.

I also gained new skills from motion graphic classes that were taught by David Dodds. His passion for motion graphics and character animation really inspires students. Not to mention After Effects is one of the most challenging animation software to learn, but he’s really full of patience (and passion) covering the materials over and over again.

Then, I also took UX I course with Chris Cirak, and even though I never met him in person, I remembered how helpful he is as an UX Instructor. It was my first time taking a UX course and I didn’t even know what UX meant back then, and look where I am now! I’m pursuing a Master’s in Human Experience Design Interaction which is similar to UX. Then I met Thomas Dillman, another UX Instructor whom I adore so much because of his experience and how he shares his knowledge in the UX industry. Again, my aim is not to learn the powerful UX tools in the career because softwares are always changing, and I believe as long as we have the right mind to learn and grasp on something, we shouldn’t be worried of anything.

How did you decide to go from UCLA Extension to graduate school?

I decided to go to Graduate school for UX because I like to learn what’s beyond UX. I mean, I learned UX from UCLA Extension, and that will always be my starting point when I share my stories to everyone. Then, understanding concepts around Human Relationship with Technology and Arts, it just gives me chills and passion to explore more, and to apply all the skill that I have learned as a designer.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I hope in 5 years, I’ll be working in an Entertainment company where my works will have a huge impact for the company, the audience, and the community. Then I’d also be willing to hustle when I still can, I don’t mind taking some freelance jobs as a Graphic Artist: creating movie posters/flyers, etc. because that’s what started my passion as an artist as well.

Congratulations, Novia! Wishing you every success!

DCA student Laura Ángel has project published in Packaging Of The World!

530 Beer package design by Laura Ángel.
“Life and beer are very similar. Chill for best results.”

DCA student Laura Ángel’s beer packaging project, created in instructor John Beach’s Design II: Collateral Communication course, has been published on the influential blog Packaging of the World.

We’re thrilled for Laura that, not only did she take the leap and submit her work (which we strongly encourage students to do) but also her project was chosen for publication!

Laura says, “I’ve never submitted work before to be published because it is always hard to share your personal work for the first time. But this certainly gives me motivation to keep going.” 

Mega congrats Laura!

Interview with User Experience Graduate Leo Peng

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate.

I was interested in UX design after listening to a lecture in a digital media class in college and after I created digital designs for an internship. I chose UCLA Extension’s UX Certificate program after reading about the positive experiences students had with the program and the job placement stories. What appealed to me was the opportunity to learn from industry professionals over the span of a year, to develop professional relationships, and to choose from a curated curriculum that’s constantly adapting to the needs of the industry.

What was your favorite course, and which was most helpful to your professional development?

My favorite course was User Experience IV: Capstone because the instructor and the class environment made me excited about the industry and reignited the fun I had in looking at the user experience of technology giants through a critical lens. The most helpful course was User Experience II: Iteration because it taught me not only the principles needed to get a job, but the in-depth knowledge of various tools I still use at my job every day.

How are you using your certificate experience in your current professional life?

The most important skill I took away from the certificate was working in a team environment with other designers. I was not able to experience this in my Bachelor’s program… And I work with other designers every day!

What advice would you have for anyone interested in getting started in UX?

If you’re interested in transitioning your career, think about whether or not you’re passionate about technology and design. In UX, you are constantly juggling your desire to be innovative in both of those.

Interview with Photography Graduate Yuki Yoshimatsu

Visit yyoshimatsu.com to see more of Yuki’s work

Tell us about how you got interested in photography and what brought you to the Photography Certificate.

I used to study filmmaking and worked in the industry for a while. During that time I would also snap a few photos on set. The more I took photos and the more I would look at other people’s work, I got more interested in it. It became a hobby that I wanted to expand my knowledge on and work on my craft. I decided that in order to do so, I should learn from the basics and work my way through. I believed UCLA Extension would be a great place for me to learn because they offered different styles of photography from Event Photography, Portraiture, Architecture Photography, Studio Photography, Street Photography and so much more. It was a great opportunity for me to study these different styles, but also to learn about myself and my style of photography. It made me appreciate the art and understand that some forms of photography are not my strong suit while others I excel at.

Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

What’s something about photography that beginning students might not realize?

At the very beginning you may take a few good photos that you will be proud of, but the more you work on your craft and the more you learn, the better you will become. Be patient. Keep practicing. Take lots of photos and explore different styles of photography. You may believe you’re a fashion photographer, but in reality you may actually be an excellent street photographer, and your interest and passion may shift. Also, befriend photographers who take different style of photographs from you. You will learn so much from observing how they work and how they take photos.

Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

What was your favorite course and why?

It’s very difficult to pinpoint which one was my favourite because all of the classes I took were amazing and I learned so much from them. All the professors I worked with were extremely patient and talented. Their style of photography is very different from mine, but they would give extremely great advice on how I can improve my craft. I guess if I have to choose, I’d say Photography II with Natasha Rudenko was one of my favourites. She’s such a passionate teacher and pushed all of us to do our very best. She pushed us so hard that some of my classmates and I joked how it caused us to have a mental breakdown while creating our final project; it was totally worth it though! She pushed me out of my comfort zone and I saw an immense improvement on the way I took photographs and how I viewed them. In addition to that, I truly enjoyed Street Photography with Weng-San Sit because she sparked my love for street photography. She would take us to a few field trips and had us explore the city of LA to take as many photos as possible. It was a lot of fun exploring the city with my classmates, but it was extremely interesting to see how we all viewed it so differently even when we were shooting the same exact location.

Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream job, who are they and what’s the job?

My filmmaking love is going to collide with this answer. The person calling me will be the genius Mr. Roger Deakins. The job he will offer me is to be the behind the scenes photographer for his films that he will be the cinematographer for. I would love to work with him and have him as my mentor. His way of lighting and framing has always left me in awe. I’d love to be able to capture those amazing moments of him in action whilst picking his brain on how to work in the film industry. I believe my eye from street photography and my knowledge in the film industry would benefit capturing amazing moments.

Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years I see myself still immersed in both film and photography. I see myself working in the film industry whilst also working in photography. Perhaps as a BTS photographer while also working on personal projects such as street photography. I hope in 5 years my personal project will grow to the point that I am able to open an exhibition or sell my work on my website.

Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu
Photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

Interview with UX Graduate Nathdanai Somprasong

Tell us about how you got interested in user experience design and what brought you to the UX Certificate. 

I am always interested in design, especially digital product design. However, I found that creative work is usually subjective, meaning that it always partly depends on each person’s experience and perspective and it is not easy to achieve the best design solution.

After reading about the UX design certificate of UCLA Extension, I know right away that this is what I was looking for and I wanted to learn in more detail to develop and enhance my design capability. I gained not only visual problem-solving skills but also research and analytical skills to validate my work.

What’s something about UX design that beginning students might not realize? 

I notice that most people usually focus on qualitative data such as user interviews or user testing and overlook the importance of quantitative data. Both types of data could complement each other and lead to a more preferable design solution.

Knowing the limitation of the technology is also important. It is very beneficial to know some basic coding skills to know what is feasible and to be able to communicate with the web development team.

What was your favorite course and why? 

I enjoyed studying many courses here, however, User Experience II: Iteration is my favorite course. I had a chance to learn about service design which is challenging and enjoyable. I learned to look beyond the computer or mobile screens and was able to pay more attention to the end-to-end experience for a business.

Students also had a chance to work together as a team which was a valuable experience because people from different countries and different backgrounds can exchange views and experience with each other. 

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream job, who are they, and what’s the job?

A company that provides digital product design service such as an application or website design which focuses mainly on creating the best experience for their users both visually and usability and work closely with the clients and their users for the best design outcomes.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years? 

My goal in 5 years is to be a well known senior UX designer in an agency or a tech company. I also have a strong passion for teaching, so I also would like to teach design or other subjects as much as I can and hopefully have my own academic institution one day.

Interview with DCA Graduate Kevin Kwok

Designer Kevin Kwok

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I first dabbled in design when I discovered Photoshop in high school. Back then, I was interested in drawing and design but didn’t really consider making a career out of it. I went on to study Law and Business for my Bachelor’s degree—a total 180, I know. After I graduated, one thing I knew for SURE was that practicing law was not for me.

I explored the idea of working in branding/graphic design, but realized I didn’t have the right education and experience for it. That’s when I decided to attend the DCA program—with the goal of brushing up my technical and conceptual skills, and building a strong design portfolio.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Hmm there were so many! Off the top of my head, I really enjoyed Photoshop I with Hakon Engvig, Design II: Collateral Communication with Henry Mateo, Graphic Design Career Launch Pad with Pash, and ALL of John Beach’s classes.

If I had to pick one, it would be Design II: Collateral Communication because it was so challenging yet rewarding. The class was hands-on, practical and well structured. Henry helped push my logo, brand identity, and package design skills to the next level. I left the class with 2 solid portfolio pieces that I was proud of. The icing on the cake was being able to present our work to critics at an actual design office (for us it was at BMW Designworks). Thank you, Henry (and all my instructors), for inspiring me and getting me to where I am now.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

I’m currently a senior designer at a creative agency called Wondros, and this wouldn’t have been possible had I not attended the DCA program. I’m also really interested in branding and brand building. So my dream job would be to work at well-established brand consultancy and design firms like Pentagram, Collins, or Wolff Olins.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years, my goal is to become a Creative Director—either at an agency or in-house at a company that values innovation, creativity and design.

Great work, Kevin! We are wishing you every success.

You can contact Kevin at hello@kevinkwokdesign.com.

Recent DCA Graduate Interview: Felipe Farme D’Amoed

Learn more about Felipe, and the unique skill set he’s leveraged in his stand-out portfolio:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

My relationship with design started with drawing while in class at school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although I did that often, I never thought that was something I would pursue. After many years and different career paths I was introduced to design while working to create the visual identity and branding of the InvestEGGator, a 3D printed faux turtle egg with a tracking device. I worked alongside an Australian design agency who opened my eyes about how design really worked. That was the moment I decided to switch to what I love doing now, designing to tell a story. I knew about UCLA Extension through a friend and found the DCA program, which opened the doors for me to begin the transition to where I am now.

What were your favorite courses and why?

What I loved about the program was how gradual students were introduced to the techniques and eventually using them to express what they envisioned in their minds. It felt liberating to be able to hone the skills to put the ideas into a physical form. With that said, so many courses inspired me. To name a few, Design III: Branding, Package Design, Design II: Collateral Communication, Advertising Design and Designing Experiences were the most enticing to me by the depth of concept they relied on. These courses allowed me to focus on the message I wanted to come across and use design as the medium to attractively convey that. I believe these courses together with Publication Design were crucial to shaping me into understanding the world that Design has to offer in all its aspects.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

That’s a tough one. I can imagine myself in so many different roles, but that’s what fascinates me. As I said, a job that would allow me to visually convey the message in a unique way to the end user would motivate me every day. This job would definitely be related to the environment and conscious consumption, teaching people in unorthodox ways about problem solving as a community. Unorthodox is where environmental design comes in, where the experience would shock and entice, giving the correct awareness to the issue in place. I am deeply motivated by plastic and ocean pollution, and conscious consumption. I would love to work in a place where this was the focus, as there is a lot of room to prosper and educate people about consuming the right products and services that bring us together and create positive social and environmental impact.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

Having my own business addressing social and environmental issues with unique experiences and innovative design that breaks the norm we unfortunately see very so often out there today. I would love to take Palo Audio further and use that as a medium to connect us to nature. I also want everyone in the world to have access to clean water. Not sure how yet, but I’ll get there. Let’s catch up in 5 years…

Thank you, Felipe. And best of luck with your worthy goals!

Interview with Recent DCA Grad: Xinyi Yang

Learn how recent DCA graduate Xinyi Yang combined a background in advertising with design skills in the DCA program, her favorite courses, and more:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
My background is in advertising. After graduation, I got a job in one of the tour operators as a marketing specialist. My daily job required me to do the design of newsletters and banners, which I hadn’t learned a lot in my school. I decided that it was time for me to improve my working skills. Friends of mine suggested to me to take design classes in UCLA extension. I am glad that I took the class and enrolled in the DCA program.

What were your favorite courses and why?
Typography and Design III: Branding. I always had the problem of choosing the typo in the banner. Typography class really helped me a lot with that. The professor of Design 3 is awesome. He always pushed us to improve and inspire our potentials.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?
I would like to be in the entertainment or gaming industry. To help them work on their products and branding makes me excited.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
I see myself as a product manager.

Thank you, Xinyi!

Interview with Recent DCA Grad: Laurie Racicot

It’s not hyperbole to say that design can change the world. Arguably no previous DCA student has better coupled top-tier design communication with a pressing social issue–in this case, the climate emergency–to enact change. We’re thrilled by what Laurie Racicot has produced in the DCA program, and by the role she will play in enacting climate justice.

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I’ve been interested in design for as long as I can remember. I believe it relates to every subject, every issue, every part of the world. So when I decided I wanted to create a career that could make an impact for good, it was a natural choice. I chose the DCA program for its amazing flexibility. I live in a small town and have small children. The options for challenging academic programs that fit into my life were pretty slim. I’m thankful that I found this program that let me build my skills remotely and on my own timeframe.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Typography II was one of my favorite courses. I had a great instructor and I really enjoyed getting into the nitty-gritty of how type communicates on the micro and macro levels. We got to refine letterforms and design magazine spreads.

I also really enjoyed the Publication Design course, which I completed as a mentorship because it’s not yet offered as an online class. It was fascinating to build a magazine concept from the ground up. I got to choose a subject I was passionate about, research the audience, and write a creative brief from scratch. Then I got to stretch my art direction, illustration, and typography skills.

I enjoyed Art Direction Boot Camp for the same reasons. I like the strategic thinking that goes along with writing a creative brief and doing all of the research that goes along with it.

And I can’t forget to mention Color Methodologies, one of the very first courses I took. I just really love working with color!

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

I have many dream design jobs at the moment, here is one: I would get a call from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or maybe someone at the Sunrise Movement, asking me to be Art Director for a campaign to promote the Green New Deal.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I will be a freelance art director and design strategist with enough professional connections that I can choose to work exclusively on projects related to climate justice.

Congratulations, Laurie!

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