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Sep 20, 2022
UX Researcher | Kurt

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My non-linear career path! Who knows what’s next?

 

Meet the person behind the role. 

 

UX Researchers come in a lot of flavors. Some focus on quantitative methods and love to crunch numbers. Others love qualitative research and figuring out why people do what they do. It’s a spectrum, so you’ll find researchers across a wide range of skills.

 

I am a qualitative generalist (That’s not a technical term…I just made it up). I love talking to people to figure out how we can improve technology, and I’m familiar with a toolkit of primarily qualitative methods. A typical work week includes working closely with my product team members to determine their questions. Then, I plan ways to answer those questions in the best way possible. Once I make a research plan, I conduct the research (either through interviews or by setting up tests) and then synthesize any patterns that emerge to deliver insights to the team.  I love supporting people, so I feel good if I can find ways to bring clarity to a designer or product manager working on a problem or, better yet, an end-user of our product. The ability to help people (and a cup of coffee) gets me up every morning.

 

Take us on a journey. 

 

My career seems to have formed itself out of fate and fortune. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer and a veterinarian. Then, in high school, I became obsessed with architecture and thought I might be one. But when I applied to colleges, I did not get into any architecture schools in NYC and decided I cared more about attending school in the city than pursuing architecture. So I studied urban design (architecture adjacent!) and journalism. I thought maybe I would become an architecture critic, but got my first job as a copywriter at a startup in SF instead. Copywriting led me to digital marketing, and I hopped around a ton to different startups in marketing. It was a bit of a tumultuous time. After being laid off and fired, I wondered if I wasn’t on the right career path.

 

Luckily, I was exposed to UX design while working at Skillshare (an EdTech platform). I decided I was intrigued by the qualitative components of user experience design and committed to doing a General Assembly Bootcamp in 2014. Then, while working as a UX designer at various newspaper companies, I decided to evolve into user research and pursued a master’s in information experience design. I’ve been in the UX field in some capacity ever since and haven't looked back! 

 

One piece of advice you’d give your younger self about your career path?

 

I would probably tell my younger self not to take stuff so seriously. Honestly, I still try to tell my current self this now (it’s hard!). The world isn’t going to stop turning if I don’t do something perfectly. Some things will be out of my control (and that’s okay). Serenity prayer, etc. These gentle reminders may explain why I like tarot and astrology. When I pull cards or look at birth charts, I think there are forces at play outside myself (and those forces may be invisible or not even real!) However, I do have the power to ascribe meaning to random things. That’s something I can control, and I can use that power for good.

 

Advice for the future?

 

RuPaul talks a lot about the inner saboteur, and I love it; Ignore your inner saboteur. I suppose imposter syndrome can be healthy in small doses, but there’s a time and a place for it. Don’t let negative self-talk impede your progress.

 

 

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