Rebecca Robertson loves to solve problems for customers. And while working full time as a user experience (UX) designer for Amica Mutual Insurance, she gets to do just that every day. Rebecca got her start by earning her associate's degree in Interactive Media Design from The Art Institute of New York City. For the past 10 years, she's worked in a variety of design and UX roles for several companies.
Now, she's returned to school and is enrolled in Lesley's online BS in Design for User Experience program. Rebecca is pursuing her bachelor's degree so she can further develop her skills and advance in the UX field.
Balancing online courses with full-time work has meant that Rebecca has had to be strict with time management, but it has also created an opportunity for her to grow as a professional UX designer while studying it. We caught up with Rebecca between work and school to ask more about her experience and hopes for the future.
Why did you choose Lesley's Design for UX program?
Rebecca: There are not many undergraduate programs for UX since it is a relatively newer field. Lesley’s online program allows me to get a degree in my preferred field of study as I continue down my career path.
This focused degree gives me the opportunity to advance my career, whereas a more generalized degree would not allow me to speak with the authority needed in this new field. I want to continue down the UX path because I want to help and advocate for users and solve problems for them as well as for the companies that serve them.
Do you have a background in UX?
Rebecca: I received my associate's degree in Interactive Media Design. After that, I worked in a couple of agencies wearing all sorts of hats. I did everything from designing banner ads and email blasts to making updates to the website, as well as branding and video editing.
I found that I preferred doing web design and worked on honing these skills. I was introduced to the design thinking process and my first usability test. I was hooked. UX was such a natural fit for me, I couldn’t learn about it fast enough. I am employed as a UX designer and I love bringing everything that I learn from school to work with me every day.
Which class assignments or lessons have been helpful at work?
Rebecca: I have been able to use several concepts from the User Experience Design I course with Matthew DiGirolamo and the Sketching/Interactive Design course with Lisa Spitz in my work. The User Experience Design I course gave me the vocabulary to be able to have the much-needed conversation, “What the heck is UX?” with clients. The course also provided a great refresher on some of the vital tools in the UX toolbox. Sketching is another helpful skill I use while at work. I’ve been encouraging our team to implement more sketching in our process. In doing so, sketching has allowed us to bring in additional team members with varying skillsets from across departments. By sketching together, we quickly get on the same page and are able to package up something of substance for our customers.
Any advice for people considering returning to school?
Rebecca: My best advice for going back to school is how beneficial it is for both you and employer. Check to see if there are ways your company might support your education journey. A lot of companies have reimbursement programs, flex hours, or mentorship programs.
I get the whole fear of commitment when it comes to class load. I just started with one class and it has been a very reasonable workload. Many of my colleagues are working on some level of their education so it's pretty much embedded in our culture at work.
Being a student again has been so helpful at work. The leadership team is very supportive and encourages me to try out new techniques from class and apply everything that I learn (UX and otherwise) into my professional life.
The UX skills have helped me grow as a UX designer and given me the confidence to ask "Why" and continue to advocate for our users' needs. It has been hard work, but it feels good to know that I'm investing in myself. It is all very much worth it!
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