Tips for students, new grads, and all aspiring UXers on getting a first design job that excites you.

About Me

I’m Gaby. I graduated from Stanford in Spring 2018 with newfound dreams of becoming a UX designer. Unfortunately, college graduation left me with an irrelevant biology degree and no UX-related work experience. Still, a little over a year later, I had a UX design job offer from Google.

This article describes my journey towards landing this first UX design gig. Like most worthwhile things, it was challenging, and with challenge comes growth. So, I’m writing this article as a letter of guidance…

Why I loved — and hated — not eating for a week

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

It’s funny the things you find while browsing the Internet at 4am. A couple weeks ago while glued to my laptop at precisely this time, I came across a Youtube video called “7 DAY WATER FAST — NO FOOD OR DRINK FOR A WEEK.” It had a whopping 7.4 million views.

Though sleepiness was beginning to set in and the video was a bit longer than I would have liked, I decided to watch; I was intrigued. How could a person only drink water for a week? What sort of insane willpower would drive this kind of self-torture?

The video…

Photo by JF Martin on Unsplash

During my time as an undergraduate at Stanford, I took an anthropology class called Culture and Madness. This course investigated how conceptions of mental illness change over time and across cultures. One of the learning units focused on psychosis, a collection of syndromes that result in a break with reality. Major symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations and delusions.

Prophets and Psychosis

In thinking about the relationship between psychosis and culture, I came to an interesting realization: people regarded as religious prophets in the past could be considered mildly psychotic today, at least in Western society . Keep in mind that psychosis is not…

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

Emotion: the universal human experience that connects us all, transcending time, culture, and place. When a loved one passes, we feel sadness. When a friend wrongs us, we feel anger. It is commonly thought that these discrete, experience-specific emotions (like anger, fear or sadness) are innate, produced by dedicated circuits in the brain in response to the environment — one circuit for each emotion.

This is the popular view of emotion held by most people and supported by most scientific theories: emotions are universal, built into us from the beginning.

But what if this isn’t true at all? What if…

Relocating from Pittsburgh, PA to NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.

The past weeks have been busy for Team Far Out! We moved to Mountain View, California to be closer to our clients at the NASA Ames Research Center. After settling into our new office space and receiving our official NASA intern badges, we went straight to work.

Finding our Point of View

In case you forgot, by the end of Spring Semester we had refined our problem statement to focus on creating a collaborative tool for engineers to share and align their rocket design assumptions.

A couple summers ago, I interned at a company called Lexicon that specializes in developing brand names. Swiffer, Blackberry, and Dasani are among their most well-known creative solutions.

Exposure to this niche industry has shown me just how complex human perception of language really is. Each word has a myriad of connotations beyond its definition. In fact, the dictionary is an inadequate tool when it comes to explaining the intricacies of verbal communication. Beyond semantics, a word’s phonetic qualities also influence how we interpret it; particular sounds are associated with particular meanings. …

Metaphor isn’t just a literary device; it’s hard-wired into our brain

Metaphor is a powerful tool; it allows us describe things in new, enriching ways by comparing two things that aren’t necessarily very similar on the surface. This enhances understanding. For example, saying “Ella is walking a tightrope with her grades this semester” is much more rich and descriptive than saying “Ella’s having trouble keeping her GPA high.” The metaphor paints a vivid image in our heads of Ella. We envision her walking along a tightrope suspended in midair, attempting to keep her grades up. One wrong move, and she is sent plummeting down to the hard, unforgiving ground. Ella’s situation…

The so-called unity of consciousness is an illusion… we like to think that we are one but we are not.” — Carl Jung, 1935

Have you ever surprised yourself in a situation, demonstrating unusual bravery, intelligence, or poise, only to feel afterward that it wasn’t you who performed those actions but some other, more competent self ? Have you ever thought: “I can’t believe I did that”? Have you ever felt like you were having a conversation with two “yous” in your head?

In talking to friends, I have found that these experiences are relatively common. People report feeling mildly…

Uncovering insights from our NASA user research data

Team Far Out really dove into analysis these past 2 weeks, synthesizing data from 11 interviews conducted with NASA engineers involved in designing the SLS super heavy-lift rocket. Though at times we felt like we were drowning in data, we made it out alive and with some great insights to show for it.

If you’re wondering who we are — this intro might be helpful.

Ending Phase 1

With the end of Phase 1 (Generative Research & Discovery) fast approaching, it was time to start analyzing our data. As you may remember from our previous…

Surveys are an oft-used tool in business, science, and politics; they can uncover hidden biases, project product success, determine consumer needs, and gauge political opinion.

In behavioral marketing labs and product marketing teams I have worked on, surveys have been a go-to method for collecting large amounts of data, and fast. Online surveys are particularly popular; round up a group of faceless people from websites like Amazon Mechanical Turk, pay them 50 cents per survey, and voila! You have data.

But just how accurate are these hypothetical surveys? Although using survey methodology is a quick and easy way to accumulate…

Gaby Gayles

Documenting insights about humanity, culture, and design. // Self-experimenter, UX Designer @ Google.

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