Fred Beecher, a UX designer, talks about how he can sum up what a UX designer does with just two words: humanize technology. (Or, better put, leveraging human-centered technology.) As a developer with an educational and career background in behavioral health, one of the many things that excited me about the Code for Philly’s UX Fellowship was the opportunity to level up my skills as a developer in order to incorporate UX methods, leveraging the power of technology to make positive impacts for humans.
Contributions as a UX Design Fellow
During my fellowship, I worked with PHLASK, a proof of concept that public resources can be mapped in Philadelphia. Doing so not only raises awareness for the existence of these resources, such as foraging for food and finding free access to water, but also helps the community eliminate waste and curb their habits that are harmful for the environment.
One of the issues that I put a lot of effort into was the refactoring of the component organization, taking the codebase and better organizing the features of the application so that the files and repository were more readable, understandable, and clean. At PHLASK, I also provided my front end development skills just as the team was preparing to implement new designs to the current application. Like refactoring the components, a UI overhaul not only makes it easy for volunteers to contribute, but makes it so that PHLASK users can interact with the app better.
Developing Skill Sets to Advance Career
The UX Fellowship helped me develop skills that I know will be beneficial in advancing my career. Working in a volunteer-fueled environment gave me the ability to adjust and shift purpose whenever I had to so that particular needs could be met. The fellowship also helped me develop an ability to comfortably go-with-the-flow and ask for help when I felt that I needed it. I have made connections with so many in the Code for Philly community that has been indispensable in my goal of breaking into tech. The other benefits to doing this UX Fellowship was also learning how important it was - from a UX design and research standpoint - for users to connect with the app that I’m creating, learning about the importance of user research and testing an application’s functionality.
Just a few weeks ago, I was hired at my first professional job at a digital health startup, a software company whose mission is to build a healthier, more integrated world by creating and delivering technology that makes healthcare management seamless. The company is doing so much to facilitate communication between patients and clinicians and I get to be a part of that.
I honestly don’t believe that this job opportunity could have been possible without my participation in the Code for Philly UX Fellowship and the mentoring that I received from Julia Schaumburg, from her advice about the realistic expectations of working in tech, feedback on my resume, pointers for technical interview, and the UX knowledge that she passed on to me. Julia helped change my thinking as a developer and be more effective about leveraging human-centered technology.
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