Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Interactive Arts + Technology
SFU Co-op Student

empty
Mimi Tsai Portrait
I found that exploring different career opportunities helped me understand my strengths and gave me a clearer vision of what I wish to achieve in the future.

My co-op at the City of Surrey as a UX web designer was exciting and rewarding. It focused on improving the user experience of digital services and creating new digital solutions for existing city services. The idea is simple: we designed online services that are user centered and fulfills the needs of the city and its citizens.

Importance of User Research in UX Design

What kept me motivated every day is that my design represented the City and would be used by hundreds and thousands of people, or even more. It’s was not another school project, every design decision I made needed to be carefully considered. While designing for school projects, there was always a lack of user feedback. I would often ask myself: Does the solution I am designing to meet the needs of the target audience? Have I considered every aspect of my task at hand? It wasn’t until my previous co-op as a UX researcher, which brought me to understand the importance of user testing.  While working with the City of Surrey, I was able to further explore this domain.

As one of my starter projects, I had the opportunity to conduct surveys at local libraries and recreation centers to gather citizen feedback. Talking to survey participants helped me understand their needs and questions for the city. One major takeaway from this project was that the language used on the city website was sometimes confusing. One challenge I encountered here was to balance the needs of the city to get a message across, yet in a way that was easily understood by citizens.

With that being said, I saw first hand while doing co-op how UX design and UX research go hand in hand. A well-designed digital product requires a lot of user research in order to understand the needs of the audience. As a UX designer, I need to constantly stand at the user’s point of view and reflect on my design decisions. Conducting surveys and interviewing real people really helped me consider a lot of aspects to incorporate into my work. At the same time, I was able to constantly reflect on my designs and propose ideas with more confidence.  

From Design Student to UX Designer

My experience working at the City of Surrey was unique compared to previous work positions. There are approximately 5000+ city employees, and with the growing usage of the internet, there are plenty of opportunities for UX design. I could work with many internal business units to help provide a better digital user experience for example. With the guidance from my team and other colleagues, I grew a lot as a UX designer.  My soft skills such as communication and time management flourished alongside my UX designer skills.  

When I started university as a design student in SIAT, I was unsure about my decision and how everything would play out in the future. There were many moments of self-doubt where I wondered if I was on the right path. After exploring different career paths, now I realize that there is no such a thing as a “right path”. I have taken on many work positions outside of UX, such as being a teacher. I found that exploring different career opportunities helped me understand my strengths and gave me a clearer vision of what I wish to achieve in the future. After I realized I was very passionate about UX, I was confident my decision to become a UX designer was a good one. Though my future path is still uncertain, I am very grateful for all the opportunities and knowledge I have gained through co-op and hope to continue to do what I believe in as a UX designer.  

 

 

 

Beyond the Blog

SFU Co-op Student

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.

 

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

picture of a girl and illustration of a computer and girl on a pink background
5 Tips I've Learned as Digital Communications Specialist on Video Editing

Video editing can be hard. And while this video won’t turn you into an editing master, it can hopefully provide you with some information to make the job easier. Being a third-year Communication student with a passion for creating, Brianna Tsang shares 5 tips and tricks that she has learned throughout her 8-month Co-op placement with FCAT (Faculty of Communication Arts and Technology) as a Digital Communications Specialist.

A hand holding up three fingers
If I Could Only Offer Three Pieces of Advice . . .

I would say to never give up, to really spend time tailoring the cover letter to the employer, and to apply for jobs that you may not initially like…because you never know what’s out there until you explore the opportunities!

Canucks Team
An Intern's Perspective

Marla Liguori is a Communications co-op student at SFU, and for her first Co-op experience she was able to spend the 2010-2011 season with the Vancouver Canucks as a marketing intern. She shared with us what she’s learned and why she thinks the Co-op program is a stellar addition to any degree.