Student Spotlight: Jessica K., ‘17
What made you choose Kent State University’s online Master of Science in User Experience Design (UXD) program?
At one of my previous jobs, I met another student in Kent State’s Master’s in User Experience Design (UXD) program. I had always seen “UX designer” positions but never knew exactly what it was. The more I talked to him, the more I thought about how I might like to break into the field as a creative yet very pragmatic person.
I have found schooling to be the quickest and most effective way for me to learn a skill, as opposed to trying to teach myself. By having two years of practice in the master’s program, I have been able to create well thought-out projects.
A bootcamp may teach surface-level skills, but it isn’t possible to attain the knowledge and craft you would get from a full-length program.
How did you feel at the start of the online UXD program versus at the end? What were your expectations, and were they met, exceeded or changed?
In the beginning, I had a grasp on what UX was, e.g. making products and services easier to use, but I wasn’t sure about the details. Now that I am graduating, I feel more confident in my knowledge and technical skill set.
I am not sure I had any specific expectations aside from gaining an UX portfolio. I have had practice from art school in creating and destroying my portfolio repeatedly, so this was a familiar process to me.
Was there anything in the program that surprised you?
Nothing particularly surprised me. Although I had been out of my undergraduate career for a few years when I started, I was still familiar with online classes overall.
The program was not as much design as I thought it would be, but there was an emphasis on research. As you know, research is integral to the UX process, while wireframing is only a small part.
What are some skills you learned through the program that you now use in your UX design career?
In Information Architecture II, I found that the course encompassed the UX process up until I would be handing off my design to developers. This was the most beneficial to my professional development.
Has earning your Master’s in UX Design helped you in your career?
I broke out from web design into UX while I was in the program. I don’t know if I could have made a seamless leap otherwise.
My salary has definitely increased. Being in the field longer, as well as having a master’s degree in UXD, has brought me a lot of leads that I would not have gotten otherwise.
Would you recommend the Kent State online Master’s in UX Design program to someone?
Yes, I always recommend the program when speaking to someone who is considering breaking into the field. The program is what you make of it. For me, it has helped to develop my skills greatly and was far more than just a resume-builder.
What project from the program are you most proud of?
Although there are many things I would change about it now, I am most proud of my Lunch Money Buddy simulation project from Interaction Design and the public library site redesign from Information Architecture II. Both of these projects encompassed a lot of steps in taking a project to fruition, and I found it challenging to my current skill set.
What has earning a Kent State online Master’s in UXD meant to you?
The program has been a stepping stone in my professional development as a UX designer. Without it, I wouldn’t be as technically skilled as I am now.
What tips or advice would you give to someone who is coming in to the online UX design program?
Keep your portfolio up to date. Start as soon as possible, because even though you don’t HAVE to have a portfolio curated and online until the end of the program, the sooner you can have work examples up will only help you.
Although I was not done with the program, I had projects on my website early on and was able to get interviews and learn how to talk through them. Imagine these projects are for real clients, and push yourself to make the most out of them, especially if you do not have anything else you can show off.
Or, if you’re getting ready to join our program, check out some tips on how to maximize your Master’s in UX Design experience from alumnus Chad C., ’16 or some tips on creating the perfect UX portfolio.