Congratulations to recent graduate Keita Aoyama! He tells us a bit about his experience in both the DCA and UX programs:
Tell us how you got interested in design and user experience and what brought you to our programs.
Prior to coming to The States to study at UCLA Extension, I was a software engineer in Tokyo. I enjoyed writing codes and building products with other people and learned a lot from that experience. The desire to work more closely with the actual users really fueled my interest in design. While working on projects I realized what I really wanted to do was to talk to people and see how products I work on actually improve their lives. At that point I had already heard about UX and product design, and I knew I wanted to pursue my career in that field. I started doing some research to find a program where I can learn both visual design and UX design to help with transitioning my career, and that is how I came across UCLA Extension.
What were your favorite courses and why?
I really enjoyed all the classes I have taken here. Learning with other classmates who are in similar life stages as me was encouraging, and their creativity and passion helped me become a better designer. But if I had to choose, Typography with John Beach and User Experience III: Applied with Adam Fischbach kept me on the edge of my seat.
In Typography class, instructor Beach created a safe environment where students got to experiment with different typographic compositions and styles. This helped me develop an ability to distinguish what works and what does not, as well as establish my own way of approaching design from a typographic perspective. User Experience III: Applied incorporated a full term team project. Throughout the course, instructor Fischbach encouraged us to think about how to approach problems on our own instead of following directions. This sort of strategy cultivated the ability to sense the real-life environment and come up with best solutions in a given situation. Working with other people always comes with pros and cons, and thanks to this experience I was able to learn much more than I would have if I were to work on the project by myself.
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 work in an environment where I would be able to make an impact on a global scale and work collaboratively with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I believe that great products come from multi-disciplinary teams that consist of different kinds of people with a shared goal and passion. Designing products in that kind of environment has always been my goal since the beginning.
Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
I would like to lead my own design team and make people’s lives better through the power of design. There are a lot of problems as to how we use technology, and I think we designers have contributed to it. With that in mind, I would like to be a designer who can match business objectives and user needs in a sustainable and ethical way. I hope I can design products that make people’s lives better while achieving business goals. Additionally, I would like to contribute to the design community. I learned a lot from designers out there sharing their knowledge and skills and would like to give back to the community by sharing my own experience.