“For me, good UX is about empathy…making things friendly to use. Like, for my grandparents and my mom, there’s a language barrier. Design is powerful, tech is powerful because it provides opportunities…in my opinion, accessibility in design should be at the heart (of UX).”Elena Seo
Welcome to the DePaul Career Center Hire DePaul Blog! In this post, I will be sharing insights from two DePaul alumni who have built successful careers in User Experience (UX) design.
UX design is a growing field that involves creating intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable digital experiences for users. It involves a wide range of skills, including research, prototyping, and testing, and it is crucial for companies looking to create user-friendly products and websites.
I had the opportunity to sit down with two DePaul alumni who are making waves in the UX design industry. Elena and Shelby shared their experiences, advice, and insights on what it takes to succeed in this field and how they got their start.
Whether you’re a current student or recent graduate interested in UX design, or just looking to learn more about this exciting field, we think you’ll find their stories and insights valuable.
“I had no idea that this (UX) existed. I thought computer science was everything, and…needed something more creative and people-facing. Coding all day is fine for some people, but it wasn’t for me.”Shelby Robinson
Elena Seo is a user experience designer who graduated from DePaul’s BS in UX Design program in the summer of 2021. Elena came to DePaul originally to study neuroscience, and pivoted multiple times between majors before finding UX. She transferred in to CDM towards the beginning of her undergrad.
“I declared IT, and then some of the required course load ended up overlapping with UX, like ISM 101 or 210…” Elena said. “I didn’t know that UX was a legitimate field or what careers and degrees existed. I emailed my professor at the time and I really credit that (for pushing me).” Elena now works as a full-time Associate Experience Design Consultant.
Shelby Robinson is a User Experience Research Consultant. She graduated from DePaul’s BS in User Experience Design program in 2019. Like Elena, Shelby discovered UX during her time at DePaul. She said, “I had no idea that this (UX) existed. I thought computer science was everything, and…needed something more creative and people-facing. Coding all day is fine for some people, but it wasn’t for me.”
Elena says that User Experience design as a career path aligns with her personal values. She said, “For me, good UX is about empathy…making things friendly to use. Like, for my grandparents and my mom, there’s a language barrier. Design is powerful, tech is powerful because it provides opportunities…in my opinion, accessibility in design should be at the heart (of UX).”
For those interested in UX, Elena recommends taking a UX course as an elective during students’ degree programs. More information about UX classes can be found in the DePaul Course Catalog as well as the UX Design Major Page.
College and Career
Elena shared that one of the things she regrets is not taking advantage of career opportunities and extracurricular involvement during her time at DePaul. “I wish that I had taken the time to find opportunities instead of just coursework,” Elena said. “After I graduated it really hit me, that my one internship experience wasn’t enough to get me a job. It was hard to realize.”
Shelby also had challenges after graduation. “I realized gradually after graduation that there were multiple routes available. UI design is one of them, and the other one is UX research. I was on the fence, not sure which field I wanted.”
Post-Grad Job Search
Both Elena and Shelby agree that the postgrad job search was challenging. Elena said, “Honestly it was quite brutal at times on my mental health. The repeated rejections were hard to take. I have a Notion, I can show you- I applied to 100+ jobs and was rejected from all of them.”
Shelby reflected on her postgrad job search and wishes she had more empathy for herself. “I appreciate post-college internships and fellowships a lot more,” Shelby said. “I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other people who got a full time job right out of college…I was still a baby, like, ‘Why put all this stress on yourself?’”
Finding a Job
Shelby utilized many tools to land her first job postgrad. She regularly posted designs and projects on LinkedIN so that recruiters could see her work, saying, “Continue to post on socials. Keep feeding it out there in the world. Actively try to push your work out there as much as you can.”
For Elena, mentorship and networking was key to success in her job search. “I used this platform called ADPList and it was great. You can network with people at companies like Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and you’re guaranteed mentorship sessions with them. Asking mentors about openings and finding jobs directly through communicating with recruiters was helpful.”
Most software or technologies can be learned through a wide variety of training programs. Elena also worked on upskilling during the pandemic by earning online certificates. “As a student, you have access to LinkedIN Learning for free,” Elena said. “There are free certs on there for UX design. Speaking to those (in job interviews) shows active learning.” DePaul students can log in to LinkedIn Learning for unlimited free access to a vast online library of instructional videos covering the latest software, creative, business, and technical skills.
In conclusion, the field of User Experience (UX) design is a rapidly growing industry that offers a wide range of opportunities for those with the right skills. The insights shared by DePaul alumni Elena Seo and Shelby Robinson provide a valuable perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the field, and demonstrate that a career in UX design is accessible to anyone with a passion for creating intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable digital experiences for users.
Both alumnae found the postgrad job search challenging, with a lot of rejection and frustration but they both persevered and found a job they loved. They have shared valuable advice for current and future students interested in a career in UX design.
Shelby and Elena both recommend taking UX classes as electives during students’ degree programs as well as getting involved in career opportunities and extracurricular activities during your time at college. Additionally, utilizing tools such as LinkedIn to showcase your work is a great way to increase visibility for recruiters and hiring managers. The story of these two alumnae provides a great motivation for anyone who is interested in this field and want to pursue it further.
Stay tuned for more updates on our Hire DePaul Blog, and don’t forget to check out our upcoming events and resources for job seekers on the Career Center website.
Not sure what the future holds? Need support along the way? That’s exactly where we come in. Whether you’re a freshman or an alumnus, it’s never too early (or too late) to utilize our services.
Book an appointment with Amy, or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431.