Love Letter to My Bootcamp

(We graduated from bootcamp today and I got to say a few words.)

Good afternoon—welcome friends and family.

Please raise your hand if you can confidently define what your loved one has been doing for the past 18 weeks.

…If you are here on behalf of a graduate and still not quite sure what black hole they have fallen into the past few months— it’s okay.

User Experience is simple and it is not simple.

It is flexibility married to complexity.

It is quantitative and it is qualitative.

It is how someone feels when they are interfacing with a system.

I want to share with you two of the greatest takeaways I have gotten from this program.

The first is simple—don’t procrastinate. Ever. Especially on Mondays.

The second is more complex—it is the difficulty of simplicity.

I have learned, from researching and wireframing and prototyping and user testing and presenting, —never to assume I know how to do anything.

Whatever I’m about to do is bound to take many more hours than I estimate. This humbles me every time—and it gives me a deeper respect for every aspect of other people’s work. It is difficult to make technology feel effortless—to make it feel simple.

Mark Weiser, the chief scientist at Xerox, said this:

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

Great design is simple, and research and empathy, and really hard work are what make design good for people. And that, after all, is why each of us is here. We want to make technology better for the people that use it.

So here we are.

We have learned to identify problem spaces, prototype solutions, and evaluate concepts. We have learned to ask for help and to give  and crave feedback and constructive criticism. We have learned to design for others, rather than for ourselves. We have learned that user error is usually the product of bad design.

And we have learned that there is always, always more to learn, and that the key to success is curiosity.

To our instructors—thank you for your dedication, feedback, late night help, shared tears, and inspiration. Thank you for being strong, smart women leaders in technology. Learning from you makes me feel like I can succeed in this male-dominated field. Representation matters.

To the support staff—thank you for supporting this group of people—for looking at us and thinking we might not just have what it takes—we might have more. We do not have traditional backgrounds. Thank you for helping us understand that this will make us better practitioners.

Collectively we have:

Raised our families

Raised other people’s families professionally

Studied religion and psychology and graphic design and human factors

Served our country in the Army

Been to prison

Reclaimed our lives

Owned our own small businesses

Healed Olympic athletes

Quit our jobs to travel

And dropped out of art school, twice.

Thank you for looking at us and recognizing that these experiences will inform our practices—that they make us stronger, more creative, more dedicated UX Designers.

Thank you for pushing us harder than we could have ever pushed ourselves.

To my cohort—I’m so grateful to have experienced this with each and every one of you.

Thank you.

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4 thoughts on “Love Letter to My Bootcamp

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