Where are you from?
Before moving to Atlanta to attend GaTech, I lived in NYC for almost ten years.
Where do you live now?
I live smack dab in the middle of Atlanta.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I had a job offer shortly before graduation, so I took a couple months off to travel and relax and then transitioned back into the working world.
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 work as an Experience Designer at Second Story, which is an interactive studio owned by SapientNitro (a big digital agency). We create mostly physical interactive exhibits for museum and retail clients and act as an innovation incubator for Sapient. My role is to map out the user (er…”interactor”) experience and work with the graphic designers and technologists to bring the projects to life. It involves research, sketching and exploration, design, and testing. It’s an awesome place to work and almost exactly what I was looking for in a job.
Can you tell us about a recent project you’ve worked on that you were really excited about?
I can’t say too much because of non-disclosure agreements, but one project required me to get to know a brand new piece of technology really well and come up with ways to introduce it to the public through storytelling. Right now I’m working on a trade show exhibit that incorporates some magic/design fiction, which is fun because we can really push the boundaries to create an “a ha!” moment.
Our studio is also engaged in some cool art installations with the Goat Farm here in Atlanta.
How do you think the program helped prepare you for your life after Georgia Tech?
My workplace reminds me a lot of a professional version of DM. Each person has an area of expertise, but it’s highly collaborative. In this position I do use “DM knowledge” every day. The required classes offer a little bit of all the basics (interaction design, user research), but it’s really more of the project studio/lab setup of DM that ended up being most useful for me.
For example, my studio really values exploration and experimentation in a way that reminds a lot of the labs and project studios in DM. We have a huge lab here, where we can fabricate and play around with physical computing and sensors and let cool new technologies drive our thinking around client projects. Sometimes in DM classes you end up doing an entire project on your own, which can be cool, but rarely happens in the real world. I’m glad I had some experience working in teams (and some of the folks from my project studios are now my colleagues).
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom you would like to impart to current or future Digital Media students?
It’s okay to have a niche in the program. Be weird! Your projects should never be ordinary. If your great interest is photography, focus on photo-based projects. If you’re a writer, showcase it. You don’t need to be a masterful developer to make cool stuff. Create projects that are easy for you to demo and that speak to your interests and skill set. Make yourself stand out and you will get noticed.
So much of working in XD or UX, or probably most careers in this field, is communicating your ideas (visually and verbally) to your team and to clients. If you’re not comfortable giving presentations or sharing your work and receiving feedback, practice NOW, in the safe confines of school, and improve your skills. I’m sorry to say this, but slide decks will be a part of your life forever. Learn how to make a good deck, with an actual story, and for the love of god, no bullet points!