Alumni and Students Connect at Mentor Event

Friday, May 11, 2012

HCDE alumnus and Boeing representative Dr. Jerrod Larson speaks with a current HCDE MS student during the 2012 Mentoring Event on May 8, 2012.

HCDE alumnus and Boeing representative Dr. Jerrod Larson speaks with a current HCDE MS student during the 2012 Mentoring Event on May 8, 2012.

Current and past students from the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) met at HCDE's Third Annual Mentor Event, sponsored by Boeing, a Corporate Affiliate of the department. The event was arranged in "speed dating" style. Current students rotated between tables every 15 minutes in order to meet with alumni in a variety of fields and occupations.

This year's event featured alumni who work at companies such as Microsoft, Rhapsody, Produxs, Boeing, the Mosaic Company, Purl, and more. Current students from both the undergraduate and Master's programs attended the event. HCDE alumnus and Boeing representative Jerrod Larson explained the impetus for his involvement: "The user experience field is rapidly growing—in size, importance, and complexity. The field is also becoming increasingly specialized, with specific roles like researcher, interaction designer, visual designer, usability tester (etc.) emerging to become potentially life-long careers. It therefore makes sense for students to reach out to practitioners in the field to find out what's happening in the discipline, and also, help students identify what they need to do to find the job that will make them happy. This mentor-matching event is a great way to start that dialog."

HCDE students meet with alumni during the 2012 Mentoring Event, held at the University of Washington on May 8, 2012.

HCDE students meet with alumni during the 2012 Mentoring Event, held at the University of Washington on May 8, 2012.

Department Chair and Professor Jan Spyridakis noted the "great synergy" of the evening and said that she is grateful to HCDE alumni, who "are continually dedicated and generous in giving back to the department." Spyridakis continued, "I kept hearing positive comments from students about the event. Some students were proactive in getting mentor contact information before the event ended."

Master's student Karen Holum agreed: "HCDE's recent Mentor Night was a great success. I came away with terrific resume help, industry tips, and an excellent contact from Microsoft who is willing to review my resume, set me up for an informational interview, and stay connected throughout my job search. It was definitely worth the time and effort."

Reflecting on the event, Director of Student Services Gian Bruno commented that students and alumni were both engaged throughout the evening. Bruno hopes that attendees will continue some of the mentor-mentee links that they have made to forge lasting professional connections.