While completing her undergraduate degree in HCDE, Jenny Blackburn began an internship at a local startup, isolute. After graduation, Blackburn accepted a full-time position, and by the end of that year she was managing isolute’s UX research and design team. She did not stop there. Blackburn has since worked as a usability engineer for Microsoft, a usability consultant, and an instructor for HCDE. She also spent six years as Director of Usability at Getty Images. Currently, she is Director of UX Research & Concept Development at Amazon.
Reflecting on her career path, Blackburn said that nearly every job she accepted has been due to connections made through HCDE. “In fact, several of the people I’ve hired as either interns or full-time employees have either been students I’ve worked with or otherwise met via HCDE connections.”
When asked what advice she would give to current HCDE students, Blackburn identified three unique skills that HCDE empowers people with—skills she encourages students to practice.
1. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
“Both in school and beyond, focus on building positive and healthy relationships. It’s critically important. Even if you don’t imagine a connection to be valuable in the future, you never know when your paths may cross again. I learned so much from my former classmates and continue to do so as our professional lives have often overlapped.”
2. FOCUS ON THE END-USER
“HCDE is a very humanistic place and teaches you to think about the customer and the end-user. Take this with you to the workplace and don’t stop asking “what does the user want?” Staying focused on the end-user helps you leap over the confusion and clutter. If you leverage your skills in this, it can be your super power.”
3. COMMUNICATE CLEARLY
“Something unique that HCDE teaches is how to communicate powerfully. While in school, hone your ability to provide clear and succinct communication. Your ideas are only as good as what you can communicate, so if you take this to the workplace, you will go far.”
Jenny Blackburn serves on the HCDE Professional Graduate Programs Advisory Board and is HCDE’s 2014 Commencement Speaker.