Last year at this time, an internship in UX seemed completely out of my reach. I wanted to pursue user experience design, but with no experience and coming from a school with little connections in UX design, it was going to be a tough start.
Thankfully, I got connected with Samantha Berg (‘09), a mobile UX designer in the Bay Area, who had graduated just a few years before. After a couple email exchanges, she quickly became my UX mentor, coaching me via email about how to present myself in a portfolio, how to interview, how to network my way into an opportunity, and sharing how she got to where she was now. These exchanges with her were invaluable to me as I pursued the first step in my design career. With Sam’s guidance, I ended up having several offers to choose from and spent one of the best summers of my life in California with my dream job as a UX design intern.
Cornell UX Design’s First Official Mentorship Program
Now I hope to bring back what I learned to the designers in this club. We are starting our first official mentor ship program, where we match UX industry professionals with an aspiring student designer. I’m happy to announce that Samantha Berg is back to mentor again, along with Tricia Comstock Bellatoni, James Gartrell, Karlyn Neel, Patrick Neeman, Andrea “Ajay” Revels, Anthony Viviano, and Alla Zollers.
Tips for Mentees:
Your mentor is has presumably been there and done that, so ask them anything you want. Ask them about their first job, the highs and lows of their career, what their lifestyle is like after work. If there’s anything you’re curious about, just ask
Be open to criticism
This is your chance to get an honest critique from somebody that’s volunteering their time to make you a better designer. Be a good listener and be willing to make changes in response to feedback.
Check in frequently with your mentor, when you’re applying to jobs, before and after interviews, when you get your offers, anything. Keep them in the loop with where you are at every step of the way, and don’t forget to respond quickly (less than 24 hours) when they email you.
Follow up and thank your mentor
Let your mentor know the outcome of their help and suggestions. When you move forward with your job search and career, always thank them and keep in touch about your successes.
Tips for Mentors:
Be real and authentic
Tell them how it is. You have experience that your mentee will be able to learn from so be honest about everything, the good and the bad.
Provide constructive feedback and critiques
Your mentees are about to be evaluated and critiqued by companies they’re applying to, so give them feedback to improve and iterate. Check out your mentee’s portfolio, social media sites, and web presence (anything you would do if you were considering hiring them), and let them know how they can improve. Give constructive criticism while simultaneously giving them confidence.
Share your network
If you know somebody that could give great insight into something your mentee wants to know, go ahead and connect them. Sharing your network will be invaluable to them as they start out.
Be very responsive and always email back within 24 hours. Check in your mentee if you haven’t heard back in a while. It’s easy to sometimes get behind in emails, but set aside some time to ensure that you’re maintaining communication
- Day in the life (discuss a day in the life of the mentor)
- Portfolio critique
- Mock UX interview
- Attend a conference or meetup together
Belated thank you to those who came out to our Stanford d.school Wallet Project! Jenn and I had a lot of fun moderating you (made me feel a little like we were leading a certain IDEO design exercise, if you know what I mean), and we hope everyone enjoyed running through one accelerated iteration of a user-centered design cycle.
For everyone who missed out on our fun little activity, here are the main lessons we got out of it –
1. Human-Centered Design: the whole exercise was to get a taste of Human-Centered Design where we learn the importance of empathizing with our users, instead of a typical problem-solving approach.
2. Experimentation & Prototyping: in our design process, prototyping is an integral part of experimentation and learning what works
3. A Bias Towards Action: the term “design thinking” should suggest more doing than thinking — it’s taking action and learning from mistakes that makes products
4. Show Don’t Tell: a big part of our design process is to share your vision through telling stories and experiences with the help of visual aids
5. Power of Iteration: iteration is good; successful outcomes are more often the product of refinement than not
We’d like to thank the Stanford d.school again for the exercise — CUxD certainly produced many interesting wallets! Hope you stay tuned for our next event!
Thanks to all who came out to Cornell UX Design’s first portfolio session! It was great seeing the results of everybody’s hard work.
We paired up and everybody got to critique and be critiqued. It was also a chance for members to get to know each other. For those who didn’t have a portfolio completed, they got tons of inspiration to get started on one!
CUxD members come from different backgrounds and have different goals, but everybody’s portfolios benefitted from a fresh perspective.
The session was a great success and we hope to see you at the next meeting!
Cornell has the opportunity to gain recognition in User Experience (UX) during a time when the importance of UX is increasingly revered. By integrating UX Design into Cornell Tech Campus’s plans from the very beginning, we will not only strengthen our design community, but also enhance the growth of the Tech Campus’s hubs.
A UX program aligns perfectly with the Tech Campus’ mission to accelerate existing sectors of NYC’s tech economy. NYC will benefit from a great UX education program that will develop highly demanded, cream-of-the-crop designers. In particular, incorporating user experience design into the Tech Campus is highly beneficial for its three interdisciplinary hubs:
Connective Media Hub
Effective UX can produce more streamlined and intuitive interfaces and interactions, more mindful of the needs of the user, and can also elucidate how connective forces, such as how network effects impact individual users.
Technology for Healthier Lifestyles Hub
A UX approach can help design technology that uses positive feedback loops, cognitive dissonance, and other user-centered faculties to incentivize healthy (or sustainable) behavior.
Built Environment Hub
Design thinking applied to scenarios and user contexts would enable innovative integrations between the physical bult environment and digital world.
What is UX
UX explores how humans use and interact with technology in order to design effective and pleasing interfaces for users.
Why UX is Important
The demand for UX designers is growing. In an age of abundant data and complex systems, information accessibility and usability have become vitally important. User experience has become widely recognized as a crucial factor in a product’s value and of a company’s success.
What we’ve done
We’ve already proposed a new user experience design studio course for the Ithaca campus under the Information Science department which is currently in review during the 2012-13 school year. This course takes the existing theoretical design courses at Cornell and extends them to include hands on project based studio class for design.
Additionally, we’ve written a proposal for a larger UX design program for the Cornell NYC Tech campus. Please contact us to request a copy for viewing!
What we want is a dedicated graduate studio/creative space for Cornell in NYC, along with a faculty of well known designers and design professors who will fuel the creative environment necessary for design and entrepreneurship.
To learn more about our initiative, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I hope you are all relaxing and enjoying the beginning of your break. We have 5 weeks of break ahead of us, perfect time for portfolio building! Once we get back, February and early March is prime time for internship/job recruiting. Having your portfolio ready by then is crucial. We haveour first portfolio critique session the Tuesday of the first week of class, so start designing!
Additionally, if you haven’t already heard, Cornell won the bid for NYC Tech campus! http://nyti.ms/tYs42u
This is great for Cornell UX design since UX is huge for tech
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 Portfolio Critique Session
Bring your design portfolios and get critiqued! We’ll offer suggestions on improvements and talk about presenting ourselves, interviews and how to go about applying to design jobs. This will be in a very similar format to the ux career and portfolio session conducted for INFO3450.