Many people ask me, “how did you get from studying Political Science as an undergraduate, to working for a software company testing the usability of their products?” Well, the truth is, it wasn’t a straight path, and I had no idea I would have come down this road to usability research. However, what really happened was that I was pursuing different careers, and checking them off my list for various reasons. So here is the truth – three stories of what pointed me to working in research instead of law, public affairs, biomedical libraries, etc.
Story #1: Working in a Public Affairs Firm. Just before I graduated from college, I decided I would like to put my degree to use by working on public affairs campaigns at a PR firm. I was put to work as their “media monitor,” and it was my job to clip articles that their clients were featured or mentioned in. I also had a part time job at the UC Santa Barbara Davidson library that started at 1pm, and I could not be late. However, the media clipping took me a while to grasp, and I could not finish the work in the time given to me. I found myself stressed with deadlines daily, and that everyone around me was the same way. After coming home crying too many times, I decided to try working for a law firm instead.
Story #2: Working in a law firm. After I graduated from UC Santa Barbara, I started working in a local law firm. I was a receptionist and clerk, and wanted to see what it was like to work in a law office. I was also studying to take the LSAT exam at the time, and working part time in the UC Santa Barbara Davidson Library. What I remember most from that experience was how inferior some of the attorneys treated me. When I’d try to transfer calls to them, they would yell at me, telling me not to disturb them. I over heard another say I should be replaced because I couldn’t scan their “evidence” into the machine fast enough. And another told me that I would never make it as a lawyer. I had so many negative experiences there, I decided to try another field.
Story #3: Working in a Corporate Library. I applied to UCLA’s Information Studies program, and the following summer started working for Amgen’s corporate library. I was put on several projects to updates web sites, and create demo videos to teach scientists how to use the library databases. I enjoyed the energy of the business world, but found it was really challenging to make change happen in the company. They also didn’t have very much funding, which told me the company didn’t value the incredible work the library offered to the organization. This troubled me, and I really wanted to find work where the value of the work I was doing was evident.
I took a Human Computer Interaction class at UCLA, and learned how companies test products they make with customers first before releasing it. I learned how this research informed the design process, and helped make the product more user-friendly. The research was actually making a difference. I had been so frustrated in so many working environments, being treated as though my work was not making a difference, but it seemed like if I could work in Human-Computer Interaction, my work might actually mean something.
I started working as an intern at Citrix Online, and have loved working there ever since. The company truly values the customers, and is truly customer centric. I’m incredibly lucky, and grateful to have found a company like this.