Where are you from?
I am from Covington, GA, a small town about 45 minutes straight east of Atlanta. It is only somewhat endearingly called the “Hollywood of the South,” having played host to numerous film crews in the past couple of decades. You might notice our downtown area looks eerily similar to the town of Mystic Falls on the tv show “Vampire Diaries.”
Where do you live now?
Midtown Atlanta. I love the city and the welcoming tech community, which played a big part in my decision to stay here after graduating. That in addition to my aversion to snow and all things chilly.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I joined an agency here in Atlanta as a user experience architect, where I get to work closely with 2 other DM grads! Dogs are permitted in the office, which allows for wonderful experiences like sitting on a call with a client while a puppy drools on your foot.
What is your current job? In 2 or 3 sentences, can you explain what your position is and what some of your responsibilities are?
I am a UX Architect at Moxie, where I work closely with clients to design compelling, usable, and useful experiences for customer-facing applications. Much of my time is spent creating low- and high-fidelity wireframes and functional prototypes.
Can you tell us about a recent project you’ve worked on that you were really excited about?
As a part of the Verizon ISO team, I work on the technology side of internet sales and operations. Most of my work on this is done within My Verizon, the customer-facing portal for all users on desktop, tablet, and mobile. I have my hands in many pots in this overarching project, including work in data utilization, promotion personalization, and Verizon-specific products and services.
My favorite part of working in customer-facing portals is the constant reminder of the end-user. Every design decision or flow implementation has far-reaching implications for the larger ecosystem and experience. There is no better feeling than receiving metrics showing that a particular design is reducing call-center volume or increasing positive feedback.
Whether this just means granting an extra 10 minutes of playtime to a dad that otherwise would have spent the time agonizing over a clunky bill pay process, or increasing data usage visibility for a college student so she can afford to pay rent instead of paying exorbitant overage fees, it’s important to remember that users are real people with real life they need to get back to.
How do you think the program helped prepare you for your life after Georgia Tech?
The DM program is untraditional in that it creates problem-seekers. By this I don’t just mean that its graduates are trained in a professional sense to identify gaps and provide solutions within the context of a design problem (which is also true). DM students are taught to view the world through a peculiar lens crafted of arts, humanities, science, and technology knowledge. Through that lens, they seek to discover and immerse themselves within complex problem spaces, producing a wide range of deliverables dependent on appropriateness rather than skills or tools.
Because of this, I feel well-prepared for life and work in the design world. Software and methodologies change, as new tools are created and become in or out of vogue. You can teach yourself software in a given amount of time. What you cannot gain on command is a passion for seeking the truly difficult problems and a dedication to lifelong learning.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom you would like to impart to current or future Digital Media students?
1) Develop a solid, robust design process and seek to inject that into every project you touch. It often seems enticing to rush through or skip steps due to time constraints or other factors, but excellent work derives from a thorough understanding of the design problem. Plus, fascinating details may arise (if given the chance) that can change the entire direction of a project.
2) Explore other disciplines. Learn how to work side-by-side with designers, programmers, and content strategists alike. My most valuable in-class experiences occurred in non-DM classes, where I worked with and learned from students from a variety of disciplines.
3) Pursue your passion! Find something in your field of study or work that inspires you to dig deeper and seek to become an expert in that domain. While taking an architecture course in universal design, I discovered the realm of accessibility, which is the design of products, devices, and services for people with disabilities. Now, because of that prior experience, I am an accessibility specialist on my UX team.