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Meet Our Alumni: Sally

Alumni: Sally
Class of 2021

What has your career journey been like so far?
made a career pivot into User Experience after nearly a decade of pursuing a career in media production and post-production. My journey in media production involved a variety of experiences that, looking back, taught me aspects about the UX process though I had no knowledge of the actual field yet. It wasn’t until I happened across the acronym “HCI” during a separate job pursuit that I was able to research the field of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) and UX, and ultimately discover that it was something I genuinely enjoyed and felt was a good fit with my strengths and skills. Even though my actual UX career is relatively new on paper, I’ve come to recognize that a lot of my previous experiences really prepared me for this career where I truly feel most in my element. In particular, my experience working with a variety of content/data management systems in those previous jobs has inspired my interest in designing for more of those types of systems, and solving complex problems that involve complicated interactions not just between the user and the system, but on a larger organizational scale.

Why did you choose the MHCID program?
I was looking for a reputable program that offered the flexibility of continuing to work during the program as I personally could not afford to be a full-time student without an active source of income. UCI’s MHCID program was the only option that offered this flexibility, with the added bonus of being close to home since I’m local to Orange County.

What was the program like for you?
After I made the decision to apply for the MHCID program in 2019 and the pandemic forced all the shutdowns shortly after in 2020, I was even more grateful that I had applied for the one HCI program that already had an online format. The online nature of the program worked really well for me especially because of the balance between the asynchronous and synchronous learning.

Did you work while completing your degree? 
Yes, I worked full-time during this program and, as mentioned earlier, this was one of the main reasons I chose the MHCID program in the first place. I had the fortune of working a job that had a lot of flexibility, so I was able to find time to work on assignments and focus on studies. My biggest advice would be to create a routine and do everything possible to stick to it. I know time management doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone, but I found that having a relatively consistent routine especially helped to keep me on track with assignments and deadlines. And when unexpected life events inevitably happened, having a routine also meant I had allotted spare time that I was able to use in order to make sure I didn’t fall behind.

What’s your most memorable experience as part of the program?
My most memorable experience was definitely the capstone project. I felt really lucky to work with the group I did. We had great group chemistry and worked very well together in all aspects, such as listening to each other, asking for everyone’s input equally, being responsive to each other online, and following through with our individual tasks and responsibilities. Our clients were also very responsive and supportive during our project, which really made the experience worthwhile and valuable.

Where are you now and what are you working on?
I’m currently a federal contractor to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as part of a company called Peraton. In short, I’m part of the team that’s contracted to develop an internal content management system designed to help CDC employees write, review, and publish content for the CDC website in a way that’s better optimized for the web (especially mobile), based largely on data that’s been collected over the years about how users are interacting with their website. I’m specifically part of the UX team, focused primarily on designing the actual UI (User Interface) of that system.

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