|Degree at Edinburgh Napier||MSc Multimedia and Interactive Systems|
|Role title||User Experience Designer|
|Organisation||Royal London, Edinburgh|
|Interview date||20th August 2013|
|Interviewed by||Ailish Fowler|
What was Lorraine’s experience at Edinburgh Napier University?
Following her undergraduate degree course at Edinburgh College of Art, Lorraine applied for the Masters degree in Multimedia and Interactive Systems at Edinburgh Napier University. She wanted to gain a postgraduate qualification to enhance her career prospects.
The course at Edinburgh Napier University was very attractive to Lorraine because: (a) the course covered practical subjects such as digital design and programming, as well as theoretical skills; (b) the modules were varied; (c) she could stay in her home town to complete it; (d) it was funded. Once on the course, Lorraine enjoyed group work with other students because this gave an idea of real life challenges. The essay writing and research work proved excellent preparation for Lorraine’s future career.
Towards the end of the course Lorraine completed a Masters dissertation. This involved researching company use of online customer forums. Her dissertation work was of such a high standard that Lorraine’s supervisor encouraged her to submit a condensed version of the project report to Business Information Review, where it was subsequently published.
What is Lorraine doing now?
Lorraine works as a User Experience Designer for Royal London. She is engaged in projects where the company needs to develop online and print materials for customers. Often these need to be created in response to new legislation. Lorraine is responsible for the representation of customers in this process, acting as the “voice of the user” to ensure that the materials created will be suitable for their target audience.
Lorraine mentioned in her interview how other graduates from her Masters course have gone into a variety of work roles including IT development work, contracting and consultancy, and running their own businesses. She is pleased that the qualification that she gained allows this flexibility.
How did Lorraine get to this position and what are her ambitions for the future?
Lorraine didn’t have a firm career plan prior to undertaking her Masters degree course, and she certainly had not heard the job title “User Experience Designer” before. However, she is really pleased to now be in a rewarding role which allows her to use her creativity in her work.
Prior to joining Royal London Lorraine held a number of posts. Some have been based in academia. For example, immediately after she finished her degree, Lorraine worked as a summer intern on a research project within the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation at Edinburgh Napier University, and soon after this she worked as an e-learning developer within the University. Lorraine also worked on a research project on usability and digital libraries at the University of Edinburgh. Her previous industry experience (prior to employment at Royal London) was as a usability consultant for User Vision.
Lorraine’s ultimate ambition is to use the skills she has gained through her university study and her work experience to set up her own business, and become her own boss.
What was Lorraine’s experience as a woman on a computing course?
Lorraine’s experience as a woman on a computing course was good. She felt encouraged by fellow female students, and she was also well-mentored by the teaching staff. Lorraine particularly appreciates the interest that Professor Hazel Hall (her dissertation tutor) showed in her as a Masters student, and after graduation. Lorraine regards Hazel as a role model for her professional and confident approach to her work.
What advice would Lorraine give to women wanting to work in computing?
Lorraine stated at her interview that “it’s a golden age for people who work in this area. They’re in high demand and there are not enough of them”. She believes that everyone should be able to take advantage of the opportunities that work in computing offers, including women.
Lorraine feels very lucky that she has taken this career path. It was not until she applied for her Masters course that she realised that there are opportunities for careers in computing for those who hold first degrees in non-technical subjects. Indeed, when she was at school Lorraine assumed that because she took subjects such as English, this excluded her from a career in computing. Lorraine also thinks that more should be done to tell school girls about female role models so that they are inspired to follow in the footsteps of those who have successful careers in technology. She is hopeful that more women will enter the computing workforce, and this will have the effect of encouraging more women to join it in the future.
Lorraine shared some hints and tips for women who would like to develop a career in computing. These include:
- Remember that for some degree courses in computing you do not need to have prior qualifications – an interest in the subject is more important – so don’t be put off finding the right course for you.
- Create an online presence for yourself using social media (including a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account, your own blog) so that you become known for your professional interests and gain credibility for your expertise.
- Working for a small organisation can be advantageous because you quickly get exposure to a variety of work. This can be invaluable when it comes to applying for future roles.
- Take care to maintain a work-life balance: sometimes a job with lots of travel sounds glamorous, but this can become very tiring.
What was Lorraine’s involvement with Connect?
Lorraine has given a presentation to female students at Edinburgh Napier University as part of the Connect programme. In this she gave advice about working in industry, and the realities of balancing work and non-work activities.