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UXR - My Story

Hi everyone! Glad you're here.

As a lot of UX researchers in the field, my career into UX was nonlinear but I'm happy to have found myself here.

Turning point: I don't want to be a film major!

My story begins in 2012. I was entering my sophomore year at Georgia State wrestling with the idea that completing a degree in film may not be for me. I loved watching movies, I aced my Intro to Film classes, and I loved deconstructing a film scene and all it's symbolism. Yet, it did not feel fulfilling to me. It was a confusing and scary point in my life! I had to do some deep soul searching to figure out what drove me, what interested me?

Realizations: Wait... Psychology seems kind of cool!

Turns out, Psychology answered all of these questions for me. During my second semester of sophomore year in 2013, I made the switch and I'm so happy I did. After switching to Psychology, I dove head first into research working in two different research labs during my junior and senior years. At the time, I thought the only way to do meaningful research and make meaningful contributions was to pursue a PhD. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't convince myself that I actually enjoyed academic research! It moves too slowly and getting a paper published is so stressful!

After college: Mental health tech to research project manager

Even though I didn't see a future in academia, I still thought this was the only way I could do the research and work that I wanted to do. At that time, I saw myself as a therapist for patients with high acute mental illnesses. I had plenty of research under my belt by the time I graduated college, so I wanted to get some hands on experience with the population I wanted to help so I got a job as a mental health tech when I graduated college. This experience made me realize that this was not the path I wanted to take BUT it did make me realize that I liked the idea of making people's experience better and building trusting relationships.

Following this experience, I worked as a research project manager at a large academic research institution. Again, I was hit with the idea that in order to make impact through research, you NEEDED to be in academia. I was told when I graduated college that you shouldn't expect a high-earning job with just a psychology degree, so I did more soul searching (yay!) and research into programs that aligned my burgeoning interests in healthcare and process improvement (I like to think of this as UX's cousin.)

Grad School: MBA/MPH

Turns out, The University of Georgia had a dual degree of an MBA and MPH that combined my interests seamlessly. Because of my research experience prior to enrolling in grad school, I was fortunate enough to land a graduate research assistantship during my time in the program. I'm not going to lie, graduate school was HARD. As many students do, I struggled with anxiety and imposter syndrome throughout the whole program.

I also had no idea what I wanted to do when I got out of graduate school, yet I was committed to finishing. When I did finish grad school, I got my first introduction into UX research.

Life after school: first gig

After graduate school, I landed a job as within a leadership development program (LDP) at a large healthcare company in California. This was perfect for me because it allowed me to make three different rotations around the organization to find a fit. During my rotations, I landed in roles that allowed me to do research using a lot of different methods (surveys, usability, quantitative analysis) to improve the customer's experience. At that time, I didn't know there was a name for this type of work, but I knew I liked it! As I continued my work, I found out that there was a name for it - UX Research! I finally found it!

Happy days: This is my thing!

Following my time at the healthcare company, I sought experiences where I could drive the research I wanted to drive. I was fortunate enough to find a role where I could do that as a UX researcher at a large telecom company. I love the work and I love the team. All of the soul searching, uncertainty, anxiety leading up to finding this career has been worth it. I get to do the work I want to do, see the impact of my work, and meet awesome people along the way.

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