I'm a user experience professional, specializing in user research and design research. I work at Charitable Impact, which operates at the intersection of finance and charity.
thank you Grace for this awesome illustration!
Like every other 18 year old, I didn't know what career I wanted to pursue when I was entering university. But I knew that I wanted to learn more about people, and why they behaved in certain ways. Taking courses in cognitive, behavioural, and abnormal psychology strengthened this interest, and I ended up with Psychology as my major.
During university, I wanted to try everything; I applied for the CO-OP program and ended up working for 16 months as a tour guide, a community organizer, and an administrative assistant. I also studied abroad for one year, gaining a different perspective on the topics I was interested in. When I graduated, my employer at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada decided to hire me full-time. This, along with a promotion to an analyst position, seemed to steer me towards a career in public service. But I had a desire to work in a more creative environment, and I wanted to apply my knowledge on human behaviour more directly.
Transitioning into tech and UX
Fast forward a few years, I discovered UX design and was excited to see how rooted it is in human psychology and creative problem solving. Throughout my time at school and when I started accepting freelance work, I always gravitated towards research and how it could inform design and strategy for the product. I loved investigating a hypothesis and finding surprising insights that challenged my own assumptions and worldview. It seemed natural for me to specialize in the research side of UX.
How past experiences cultivated my inner researcher
I like that UX research is such a new field; that it borrows from fields like academia and market research, but is still itself evolving and making itself known. It's a good metaphor for my own experience: I'm somewhat new to the tech world, and the qualities and experiences that have shaped me as a researcher were formed from an amalgamation of my previous experiences.
Through working as a tour guide, I learned to craft compelling stories that could hold people's attention and spark curiosity. When I worked as a community organizer, I learned to be open-minded when I embedding myself within a community I didn't think I could find common ground with (spoiler: I did). When I worked as an administrative assistant, I learned to be organized and to anticipate the needs of the colleagues I was assisting. And when I was an analyst and needed to have difficult conversations with members of a marginalized community, I learned how to really listen and show compassion and empathy for the injustices they had been dealt.
how career transitions feel
These are the values I live by, that I also look for in professional environments:
Curiosity: I like working in an environment that encourages curiosity and asking questions
Making a difference: I like when my work is impactful to both the company and the end users
Growth and learning: I am constantly finding ways to learn and grow