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Becoming Dr. Wu - navigating the world of UX

In August of 2019 I was conferred for my EdD in Instructional Technology and Distance Education. I wasn't sure what that meant for me personally of professionally. I explored the job market in a number of positions: instructional designer, content developer, editor... A friend had HR experience and she reviewed my resume against my transcripts and we explored others but still no luck. She along with a career coach I had at the time suggested that I look into UX. I was finding most research jobs listed were UX but I did not have the background. I concentrated on editing jobs but again it was difficult finding since I had little professional experience with it (even though I did edit my cohort members dissertations). Little did I know that the problem with my luck in finding a job was the beginning of the downward turn in the job market.


Fast forward to March 2020. I saw an ad for Pathrise on Indeed that was listed as a UX intern. I applied for it but didn't get it because I did not have a portfolio. I did some more research using different terms and fell upon the Springboard website and I liked what they were promising. It was career track so they would help me in finding a job which was my major incentive. I had applied for just the UX but after speaking to the person that was going over my application and telling her that I really wanted to bring my skills up, as I kept on finding I was over educated and under skilled, I decided to switch to UX/UI. I am glad I did. Although I am more comfortable and interested in research, UI is a great skill builder and an asset. I began the program the end of March and now October, I am almost finished with my first Capstone and am amazed at how my skills have grown and how much more comfortable I am with the tools of UI.


Yesterday, after having my live commencement in June postponed, yesterday, my commencement occurred virtually. Of course this was not ideal, but due to Covid-19 it was the best option. I wanted to be with my cohort, my shark sisters that I had walked this journey with. But being with them will have to wait for another safer day. As I watched it with my parents and my two border collie dogs, I realized I was fortunate, as I wouldn't of been able to have my dogs there. My dad, who is disabled with Lyme disease was able to see my graduate without have the stress of traveling.

There was something that I noticed that I didn't expect and that was the user experience. It was not done through Zoom but some other video stream of the event. There was chat but that was below the video. The music was not something that was ideal either. I realize that this was their first time doing a virtual commencement but it would have been helpful if they did their due diligence and researched what we (as the graduate) wanted. Although it would still not be the same as an in-person event, the research would have helped make it more of an event that would have been user-focused that we would have been happier with. My mother asked me if I had the chance to speak or if any of the other graduates did. I realize that with the numbers and time it was not possible to have everyone speak. This graduation included a number of different degrees so it would have been great to have one or two people from each degree that could represent the graduates as a whole.


I woke up this morning with mixed feelings that I can't even explain. I know this is supposed to be closure and in a way it is but I don't think it will be until I am able to hug my friends and celebrate the way I am supposed to...


Virtual graduations are a new phenomena. Although they can not fully replace the live event, they can come close with the right design and research. If you were to put on a commencement virtually, what would you do to make it empathetic of the graduates who are wanting a live event? What research methodologies would you use to design the event?

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