Contemplating a Career in Tech?
>> JEFF MARTIN: Okay, let's go ahead and get this started. I am Jeff Martin. I am the Director of Communications and Public Affairs here at the American Anthropological Association. I am an older, white male with graying brown hair, and I'm wearing black-framed glasses, and a black and white plaid shirt. I just realized I look like a waiter, and I'm coming to you from my bedroom, thanks to the pandemic, which hopefully is ending soon. "Welcome to
Contemplating a Career in Tech?", the fifth of an 8-part Pathways to Careers series hosted by the AAA, and this series will run through April 22. There are only 3 remaining webinars, including next week's "Careers in the Public Sector," which has become pretty popular. So you might want to check that out. You can see the remaining webinars and schedule on the slide being presented, hopefully right now, and learn more about the webinar series by going to our website link, which I just posted in the chat room. All these webinars occur on Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. So you might want to write that down, but back to this webinar. To make it more accessible to everyone, we're providing closed-captioning.
For closed-captioning, for those of you not familiar with Zoom, move your cursor down to the bottom and you'll see the closed-captioning icon, click on that, and you will receive closed-captioning. If you would like to ask your questions verbally or hop on video, please use the raise hand feature in the reactions icon, again, at the bottom of your screen, and direct any access needs to Nell, our accessibility coordinator, and she's listed as such in the chat. Also a reminder to please turn off your video and microphone, unless speaking, as this will help increase the bandwidth for this. We want to make this as fun and insightful as possible, and to do that, we want to make it more conversational. I've talked to the presenters, and they said yes, by all means, let's open this up. So
if you have questions, rather than -- we will have a Q&A at the end, but they're also quite willing to answer your questions as soon as you post them. So what I recommend is going into the chat room, putting "question" first, and then colon, and then ask your question, and we're going to try and answer them soon as you post them. So without any further ado, let me introduce Elizabeth Briody. >> KEVIN NEWTON: I think you're on mute, Elizabeth. >> JEFF: Elizabeth, you're probably on mute. We're waiting --
>> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Sorry. Hi, sorry about that. I'm Elizabeth Briody. I'm a white woman with brown eyeglasses and short hair, and today, I have on a blue sweater. I'm in my alcove, it's snowing like a blizzard outside, and I'm on the second floor of my home, and it does have a window. Next slide. So today our webinar is called, "Contemplating
a Career in Tech?" We have a sizeable audience today. We're very excited about this. For all of you who have registered, you can go to the Communities page, and on it, you will find a set of references related to Careers in Tech, you will find the PowerPoint slides that will be used today, and in a week or two, you will also see the recording from today's seminar, or webinar. So please check those materials out. At the end of this webinar, we will be sending you an evaluation. We ask you to please fill it out, because it's helpful to us as we plan for future webinars. And that's it. I'm now going to turn over the
mic to Kevin Newton who will talk to you about his career at LinkedIn. >> KEVIN NEWTON: Hi, everyone. As she said, my name's Kevin Newton. I live in the Bay Area, San Francisco, near San Francisco. I'm a white male with almost shoulder-length black hair, and blue-green-framed glasses, and today I'm wearing a blue and white button up shirt. I am in my home, office/guest room with a bed behind me. It's pretty messy. So what you will see instead is the Mediterranean. Sadly, it's not my own picture, but hopefully
after this pandemic, maybe I can capture one similar to that. Also, I must admit that my role at LinkedIn has changed in the past year-and-a-half, as I transitioned to managing and growing my own team. So as a result, I'm doing less and less actual research in my day-to-day. Any research I do run, typically, these days is really quick, because I have so many other responsibilities, and as a result, I rely on software, such as user Zoom or UserTesting.com, but my team is doing a lot of more in-depth research. But having said that, I'm going to tell you about how my job was when I was a full-time researcher, not too long ago and a little bit about my path, and happy to talk about the path to leadership as well in tech if that's something someone's interested in, feel free to ask questions about that as well. Okay, next slide. All right, so this is a slide showing 7 out-of-focus
sticky notes with sort of methodologies written on them. Those are cultural probe, develop personas, card sorting, customer interviews, listen in on customer service calls, field visits, and user surveys. Now there's a white person's hand, holding another sticky note, and that is in focus, reading "run a usability test." So I chose this picture because it highlights to some degree the variety that exists in UX research, which is the field that I am in in tech, which stands for user experience research, and depending on the company and the culture and the maturity of the UX research organization within that company, a researcher could be expected to run or participate any -- in any of these activities. When I was the only UX researcher at Service Master, supporting 7 different brands, as they transformed from a handshake company -- so Service Master owned companies like Terminex or MaryMade, some home services -- type services, and so they used to sell door-to-door, handshake, appointment, and they wanted to move to a digital experience where you can buy all of their stuff online, and so while I was helping them did that, I did all of these, plus ran a lot UX-based AB tests, which is not always typical, and this could be moving -- AB test could be moving a button from the bottom and the top and then randomly assigning that experience to people who visit your website, and then analyzing the performance between them, but when I got to LinkedIn, they were a little more mature. They had a team. There was about 20 of us at the time when I joined. I engaged mostly in customer interviews, so one-on-one
interviews, what in anthropology would be called semi-structured interviews where we have a guide, but we don't stick to it firmly, and that was at first, but I would continuously advocate for more observation, more field visits, over and over, I would always ask for this, and due to time constraints and other reasons, we weren't able to do it for quite a while, but in 2019, one of our flagship, one of our main products was in trouble. So we had released a new version, and our satisfaction was tanking, and nobody knew exactly why. So this was my opportunity. I organized a field visit to Seattle, Washington, during which I took 20 of my colleagues, organized -- across product, engineering, and the marketing organization -- to visit 10 different customers, where they work, watched them work, asked them about their work, watched them using our product, and we streamed this visit for those who couldn't attend or -- and could watch and take notes. This was the turning point for the product, and -- and I couldn't be prouder of what we discovered and how we helped move that product now back to the level it was before we released the new one, and then, I was able to do another field visit a few months later in February 2020. Because the organization saw the value. So we went to New York. We took about 12 people. We visited
another number of companies, and really was -- were able to uncover things, as you know, couldn't otherwise get if you're not actually observing them, doing the thing you want them to do. Then COVID hit. So we had plans to do one field trip per quarter or at least one every other quarter, two a year, but that hasn't been possible. So all that to say, in the beginning, I had to do a lot of these, like, usability test, and card sortings and things that maybe aren't "anthropological," aren't taught in an anthropology -- or wasn't taught to me when I went to the University of Memphis graduate program in applied anthropology, but that I had to learn through taking courses online, et cetera.
So, but eventually, this led to more ethnographic-based study. So I'll be talking about how you can do that at the end of my short talk. So, yup, so you may have to expand your methodology toolkit in order to break into UX research, all of that, to say. Ok! Next slide. All right. Applied anthropology -- Having said all that, though, applied anthropological is particularly suited for UX research. So looking at this slide, you see the point of view of two people looking down at a stencil painting of the words, "Passion led us here."
You can only see the two people from the waist down and only their feet and the words are in focus. I use this slide -- I use this slide a lot because it truly is how I feel about being passionate about people. Because when I first discovered what many people call design thinking, which is a 5-step model for innovation, in which the first step is usually labeled empathy. Then I realized there was a shift happening in business, and I will talk about
online coursework in just one second. Thank you for the question. So, I realized there was a shift in the business thinking. Because business used to be many, many years ago, "I'm going to make this product, and then I'm going to throw thousands and millions of dollars of advertising behind it and convince people they need it," and business still works that way in a lot of ways, but recently, there has been a pretty large shift to, "Actually, if we can just figure out how people are living their lives, and discover problems that they have, we can then build products that they actually need, and in turn, want. We can spend less advertising dollars, and then we'll get more customers, and we'll actually solve the problem in the real world." So, in that way, I see our role as an advocate for the customer or the member. It's our job to speak for those who do not have a seat at the decision-making table to ensure that whatever is built or designed is something that will solve an actual problem in a way that it can actually be used. Okay? And my passion is for people, that's for sure, not
products, and I would argue that most applied anthropologist who learned about Marx, Bourdieu, Anderson, Foucault, and so many others, feel the same way, all right? We care about the people, and so being a UX researcher allows us to bring those perspective to companies that attempt to solve some of the most important problems in today's world. Now, to be fair, we rarely get to bring the text or the theory to bare in our reports, or in our decks, or in our PowerPoint slides, but we can always bring the perspective through conversation and through the design of how we're doing the research. So we can go to the next slide, and while we are, yes, recommendations for coursework in UX, there are a lot of good ones on Udemy. Look for sales. They usually have a sale, like, every three months or so. You can get for, like, ridiculous amount, like 80% off or something like that. It ends up being like $10 or $15, and you can learn about the basics of UX usability testing, and I would highly recommend any of those on there. LinkedIn learning also has some
good ones. I'm kind of obligated to say that so you should look into that as well. Okay. So this leads me to how I actually get my job done as a researcher. This picture couldn't be better. So this picture shows 4 kittens in an old wooden basket. Two of the kittens on the lefthand side of the screen are looking almost straight up. The 2 on the righthand side of the screen are actually starting to leave the basket. One is looking on the ground. The other is looking at the direction of the camera, and this picture
perfectly captures what it's like to be a UX researcher, at least in a large tech company. There are so many people, so many functions, so many supersmart people with really really good ideas, and it's research job, sometimes, to herd them into the same basket, or as the metaphor goes, into the same boat and try to get them to look or row in the same direction. That's it. You have a lot of people. You have a lot ideas, a lot of data, a lot of other things, and a lot of times, our idea -- our job is to bring people into the same room and say, "What do you all actually know? And let's get on the same page about what we know about this product and what we don't know, and then we'll do some research to figure out what we don't know." And so -- let me see here. Oh yeah. So in tech, in my experience, you often have someone called a product manager or product owner who has a vision for her product, and then you have a UX designer, who's in charge of turning that vision into an actual reality, and you have multiple people from marketing, customer support, data science that have numbers and metrics showing how people behave and feel, and I say "feel," because it's often a multiple choice question about, "How do you feel about this?" It's not actually seeing their emotion or watching them experience something, and so, if you have a really good designer in tech, they'll kind of say, "Hey, I can't move forward until I have research," and then that's when we get brought in. Otherwise,
managers figure it out and kind of bring research in, and when we get brought in, it's first -- it's our job to figure out, "What do we actually know? What do -- and what do we just think we know? Right? So what does the team know? What does the team think they know, and what do they actually know? And then, from there, you try to take all these people on the research journey to either attend site visits once you know what you don't know, or to observe one-on-one interviews, take notes, ask questions, et cetera, and then everyone learns together, and in sync, and that's really important, that you bring the team along. So, and I should highlight that because, sometimes I think in anthropology, certainly in academic anthropology, in other aspects of anthropology, and in my other field of psychology as well, professors in psychology, kind of do our research kind of on our own, and then we kind of come back, and we put it all together and we make sense of the madness, and we either write a book, or we write a post, or we write an article. That is not the case in tech, because if you do that, you come back to these supersmart people, and they're going to have nothing but questions for you about why it is this way. So it's very important that they see the people experiencing their product. That they come along the journey
with you. That they know what decisions you made and why you made them. So then in the end when you say, "Oh, we need to change this thing that you really love," you'll have less resistance getting them to buy-in and to actually make that change. Okay. Next slide, and I think I maybe just bring it up. Okay. So why is research fun for me? Well,
this is -- so that's mostly what I love about it is herding these cats, if you will, or trying to get people aligned, understanding what people know and finding out what they don't, and this picture shows a scattered jigsaw puzzle with no picture on it, on its pieces and a rubrics cube with each twisted slightly off center. So my job as a researcher is -- was and is to put together one part of a much larger puzzle, but the thing is, there's no reference picture for the puzzle. So you just have to go in, and you just have to figure out, "Where are the pieces? What do they look like? How do they fit together? How can they inform your research, and how can your research inform them?" And get -- again, just get people kind of on the same page. So something that wasn't on the first slide of sticky notes was workshops, which can and should be, in my opinion, a huge part of a UX researcher's job. So I've talked a couple of times about getting people in the same room. Well, there is a way to do that -- there's methodologies through workshops to where you can use games and you can use activities, to get people to sketch out things or write down ideas, to vote on ideas, to kind of help people get on that same page so that when you leave the room, everyone is excited about a particular direction. So, it also increases
your impact exponentially, right? Because then you have all of these cross-functional teams coming together, and then they become your advocates for the story that you wanna tell as they leave -- as they leave the workshop. And just like with any sort of applied anthropological or qualitative research endeavor, UX research projects seek to make sense of the messy world of humans, right? And to translate this sense-making into solutions that will give people what they either explicitly or implicitly want or need in a given situation. So this is very -- this is why it's so exciting to me. Putting this puzzle together and helping people, actually, in my case, is to find really good talent for their job, or for job-seekers, to get a job. So that's the area of LinkedIn that I work in, and it's very rewarding, and that's why I love what I do. Ok, next slide. Last slide.
Ok, so paths. So how do you do it? So that's all great. Hopefully that sounds fun, sounds exciting, really gives you a little insight into how it is. The big question is how can an anthropologist get into UX research? So I already mentioned -- excuse me -- doing some supplemental courses, and I do think that that's a good idea, and if you're still in school, you're still in college, either undergrad or grad, you might look into taking some, even some psychology courses that fit into your program nicely. If there's any -- behavioral, economic, psychology courses, I would definitely recommend taking one of those just so you have some familiarity with those concepts from that field. It will go a long way. But this picture shows two concrete paths, fully concrete paths, leading to a concrete open space with a white pyramid-shaped object. Then there's 3 rock and dirt paths leading
to the same area. Now, each path on here -- oh no. Oh yeah, I took that off. Yeah, and so that's the picture. I did have the paths labeled, but then I ended up moving them down to the bottom of the slide so they were more readable. But the -- This is meant to show that there are many paths someone can take to become a UX researcher. Basically, every large tech company has an internship program in the summer. Now, they usually open around the end of the
year before the internship starts, so November, December, somewhere around there, sometimes October. So be looking for that, and it's for undergrad and graduate students most of the time. The only requirement is that you have to be going back to school after that following summer. So you can apply there. So that's one way that you can get in. Show
your ethnographic methods, and then also get some training before you go back to school. And then, if you tail in one of these, then your path will be much easier. So I'll just say that. So I would definitely try that. Either way, it's something you really want to pursue, I would suggest some supplemental education, like I said. This could be done
part of -- as part of your degree, and if you go that route, you know, for behavioral, economics, and jump the gun on that. But you can also look for human-computer interaction courses or design-thinking courses in the business school that can also supplement. So that's one. Ok, so this could be, and then I already mentioned this, but it can be done through online learning platforms like Udemy -- I mean Coursera is one that I didn't mention earlier. As you engage in this material, you'll see how similar UX research is to anthropology, but what you'll also notice, and this is a big deal, is that there's a different language used to describe the same thing. So you'll always notice that
some programs really emphasize psychological aspect of how people behave with products and services, but once you have that language and feel comfortable talking like a UX researcher, for example, we don't really say we do a field -- we don't really say field visit, even though I said it here. We might say contextual inquiry, which basically just means going to their place and watching them use your product. But if you don't have that language, you could get tripped up in interviews or not use it correctly, and so you'll find that and there's good resources where Elizabeth talked about that on the Community page, will -- we'll help you with some of that language. And then, there are associate programs within big tech companies, and when I say associate programs, this means like, an entry level, so associate UX researcher, where they kind of don't expect you to know everything about being in a corporation or a tech company, but then they teach you along the way, and they take you along the way. Google has a really good one. So you should look, and they have it listed on LinkedIn, "Associate UX Researcher." It's entry level. You don't need very much experience, and you can use your schooling as your experience. So if you do
applied projects in schooling, you can use that to get in the door. Integrating yourself into a -- into the start-up world in your community could help you land an opportunity there. So there's typically incubators, or some company that is a hub for start-ups, maybe it's a co-op working spot. If you go and meet those people, someone who has a tiny idea, and not a lot of money, maybe very willing to have someone who doesn't have a lot of experience apply some of these methods and help them understand their users better, which case you can use that as experience, and then move into a tech job, a bigger job.
Other opportunities you might pursue could be with local consultancies. Smaller operations. So these companies often time work with other companies to help them better understand their audience and the problems that they want to solve. But here's the thing is that they often take on projects that they actually don't have the staff to do because a really good, it's a small business, basically, and this company comes, and they're like, "We have this amazing project," and they're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can do it, we can do it," and then they turn to their network of researchers to conduct the interviews or maybe take notes, or maybe organize some of the data. So you can get in with a consultancy in your community and kind of show them your training and tell them how eager you are to just take notes or do anything that they need, grunt work or anything else, when they get a project like that, they might reach out to you and that would give you, again, experience, and you can talk about the project in the greater context, and then your part that you did and what you learned from it, and it'll probably give you a little bit of money in your pocket, cause they're usually paying for -- for that, so. And then my last suggestion, which is my least favorite, but sometimes it's the only way, is to find, not that I have anything against non-profits, necessarily, but finding a non-profit that has a website and then just offer to do work for them for free. The only reason
this is my least favorite is because I'm not a big fan of setting the precedent of giving research away for free, otherwise -- if it's a passion of yours, obviously, that's great, you can volunteer your time, and you can consider it -- consider it like that, but, this is a great way, because if you help them increase their digital presence, you help them improve their website, you can put that on your resume, and you're helping a great cause. So in that way, I really enjoy it. It's just the -- we're working on valuing our -- okay. Okay. And last thing, and so that's it. So, something that's not here is probably the most powerful tool, and that's community. Immerse yourself within the UX community, online and in your own community. The more people you can meet, the more articles you can read, the more posts on Medium or LinkedIn that you can write, the more likely you are to be seen, and when you're seen, you're more likely to find opportunities. Thank you. That's it. Oh, and question, "What
are the differences between market research and UX?" Should we save that one, Elizabeth? We'll come back to it in the end? >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Yeah, I think let's hold on the question right now. Thanks. >> KEVIN NEWTON: Thank you, yup. Thank you, everyone, and I'll pass it over to Astrid, now, and then, if we have time, we'll come back for Q&A at the end. >> ASTRID COUNTEE: Thanks, Kevin. Hi, I'm Astrid Countee. I'm a Black woman with curly hair in a ponytail, and today, I'm wearing a white top, and I'm in my home office, so what you see behind me is a bookcase. Next slide. So, I'm going to talk to you today about climate tech anthropology, which is sort of a term that I've put together based off of just my experience working in this field. It's sort of an emerging field, and it -- it's a little
bit like what used to be called clean tech, but it's -- it's become a much bigger area of focus. So it combines climate, culture, and technology, and the picture that you're seeing on the screen now is actually a protest sign that says that "There is no planet B," and this is just to highlight the crisis that we're in when it comes to climate change, and how it is upending many different industries and lots of established ways of working. Next slide. Okay, so, what is climate tech? Like I mentioned, it's more than just clean tech or green tech. There's kind of two bigger groups that you can put this in. So it's any type of innovation that mitigates greenhouse gas emission. So
that could be something related to carbon reduction, carbon removal, or it could be other innovation technologies, things that you might be noticing like "Beyond Meat"-type of products that have been made so that we can have less meat consumption, which leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and many, many other innovations. Also the second box is anything related to resilience. So that includes things like communities. It includes things like social justice and equity. It includes things related to adaptation. Maybe even infrastructure. Because climate change is more than just how we get energy.
It means that we have to consider things like when we have massive hurricanes, how do we build more resilient communities that can come back from that? What are we going to do about islands that are experiencing sea-level rise? What happens to the ancestral land once they are covered by the ocean? And how do we figure out what we're going to do with people who are migrating, which is going to be happening more and more? So climate tech is anything that is usually a technological innovation in this space, but it definitely touches on all these other parts of the process beyond just the technology itself, and what you're looking at here is a field with windmills -- wind turbines, and this is typically what people think about when they're thinking about climate change technologies, but like I mentioned, it's actually a lot more than that. Next slide. Ok, so this is where I get excited. Anthropology and climate tech. So what I find really exciting about this opportunity is that, yes, this is a technological problem, but it's also a human problem, and that means that the solutions have to be technological and human solutions. So I think a great example of this is the pandemic that we're currently in. Precious -- the year previous to the COVID-19, Johns Hopkins did a study to determine what countries were best prepared for a pandemic, and the U.S. came out on top at something like 96% expectation that we could bit through a pandemic
really easy and that we would have all the things necessary to be as successful as possible at mitigating loss of life and of stopping the spread of any type of disease, but what they did not account for were a lot of the human factors that played into the actual response to our pandemic. So although we have great hospitals, and we have infrastructure that allows for a fast vaccine distribution compared to other parts of the world, it did not account for things like how communities are set up, and if all -- everybody in the community would have access to those hospital or the medical care. It didn't account for things like a mask mandate not being followed, or even the political backlash that created a lot of dissonance among the country, and so although, we were technologically prepared, we didn't have the human problem actually identified so that we could have a solution, and I think that's a great example of what's happening with climate change in general. So, yes, we need new technologies, but we also need those technologies to be human-centered when they're created, and we need to really think a lot about the different ways that they're going to be executed, and that is a newer aspect of technological innovation.
Unfortunately, it is not always such a luxury that you, in the normal process of building innovation, have a lot of insight from people who do understand how to deal with the human issues that may be related to that, and so there's a huge opportunity for more anthropologists and other social scientists to get deeper involved in what you may call embedded technologies. So this is like technology inside of technology. Not necessarily technology that's facing a customer, but technology that might be going from business to business, technology that might help run other technologies, things like that. What's really amazing, I think, for anthropologists is that a lot of our areas of expertise can be really useful here. So by this, what I mean is anthropologists are really great at
understanding the importance of local knowledge, of Indigenous knowledge, of having knowledge about medicine and environment, and the built environment, and how these things are related to people and justice and equity. They understand the importance of design. These are all areas that climate tech is trying to operate in and needs to have those on board who understand how this is going to affect other people. So it's not an understatement to say that by working in climate tech, you have the opportunity to have a massive impact on the world, and the picture that you see on the slide is a woman who has code that's being projected on her face and the wall behind her, and I thought that would be a great way to represent how this is a technological issue, but it's definitely a human one, and we can't ignore one side. Next slide. Okay. So, how to work in this field. This is a really large very expansive and emerging field. So there is not one answer to this. One of the ways that you can take into this is going through the research path, the ethics path. So there is a lot of research happening right now around technologies and innovations. There is less of that research happening in the social science sphere. So there's definite
need for this. I think ethics is a very needed and very -- a path right now that has a lot of focus. So building technology ethically with equity, with inclusion, is extremely important, because we're talking about things that will be deployed across communities, across nations, in ways that we haven't had to work together in a very long time. Some people likened the climate tech -- needs as the mobilization efforts that we had to do in this country during World War II. So it's going to take everybody, and that means that we need to make sure we build for everybody as well. There's also policy and regulatory pathways to this. So there are things we have to think about the laws that we have in government.
We have to think about how we incentivize companies. We also need to think about regulation and make sure that as new technologies do get -- become more used, that we're not ignoring a path that they may take and thinking little bit ahead about how that can affect everybody in our societies and the world. Applications of technical solutions, which is somewhat like what Kevin was talking about with user-experience, except, oftentimes, the climate tech is usually business to business, so the applications are a little bit different, and what you'll be looking into is how to make sometimes new businesses work inside of an existing structure, or how to help incentivize businesses to take on a new technology that will allow them to be more ecologically friendly or more sustainable. Community organizing and advocacy is also really huge. One big aspect of climate tech is climate justice. So we want to make sure of is that as new technologies emerge, we are not ignoring the effect that it may have on different communities. We have already seen what happens when technology is kind
of put out into the world without thinking about how it can be effective in different areas, and how it may affect different people. So the community organizing and advocacy is going to be a huge part of how these things are implemented, and also we -- this will be an aspect of where local knowledge becomes really important, because every community is not going to have the same needs, and what it is that's going to be useful, and what's going to work in one part of the community may be very different than another, and in this case, we are talking about areas as small as neighborhoods possibly. So it definitely be important to have those on the ground that know those stories, understand that background, to feed that information back into some of the first things I brought up, which is the research and the ethics, the regulatory paths, and the policy. And also building domain expertise and aptitude is really important. Because this is an emerging field, there's really not a specific starting point, but having something to bring into the table, especially to a table that's multi-disciplinary and saying that you have confidence that what you have to talk about is something they may not know of and being able to speak with a little authority is really important, and I know for anthropologists, sometimes we kind of hedge away from speaking with authority, but I think in this realm, it's really important that we do, because there are very few people who are doing this work, who are truly just advocating for people, and we, as social scientists do have that knowledge, and it's -- it's something that people are actually really looking for as well. Because they know that they want
to include as much experience that they don't have as possible, but they often don't know what they don't know, and that's some place that we can step in. This picture on the slide behind -- behind this is actually me, and it's at the start-up that I was working at until earlier this month. This start up is a biotech start-up, and what they do is they bioengineer microorganisms that eat carbon dioxide and then produce other chemicals. So we worked with other companies in the heavy industries. So this would be oil and gas, mining, aerospace engineering, and space exploration, and this was so that we could take this technology that was ambient so it didn't require any more production of carbon dioxide, and help these companies become carbon negative without having to create a whole new process for them. Next slide. Okay, so in summary -- oh, this one is Kevin's summary. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Yeah, let me -- let me go ahead and do that. >> ASTRID COUNTEE: Okay!
>> ELIZABETH BRIODY: So, we want to just quickly summarize the key points that Kevin made as well as Astrid, and so the first thing to know is that the methods that Kevin described can be tactical, or at least appear that way at first, and not as ethnographic as you might anticipate. Second point is the importance of people and having that passion for people is a very critical part of UX research. As he had with his kitten photo, herding cats is a big part of the job, yet you UX research is fun because it's like a huge puzzle, trying to put it together, and community is key. Next slide. And then for Astrid, as she described, this field of tech that she's now associated with is just emerging. Lots of different points of entry. The tech work can be very fun, but also quite emotionally draining. Many overlapping elements. So the knowledge that you have can
be a huge asset, and she mentioned, in particular, the importance of social justice, but many other points as well, and finally, think in your own mind, 2 to 3 areas of focus that you would like to target so that you can begin to grow and change as the sector does. Next slide. So, let's move on now to the chat questions, and I think we'll start at the top of the list where we -- where we left off. We got to Kevin's first one. >> KEVIN NEWTON: I believe the next one is, "What are the differences between market research and UX?" >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Ok, so very good. What are the differences between market research and UX? Ok. Very good. Go ahead, Kevin. >> KEVIN NEWTON: Sure, yeah. That's a great
question, Gabriella. It is -- can be point of contention in companies, so something to look out for, because there can be overlap, but in general, a lot of UX research organizations focus very heavily on qualitative, small-sample studies to uncover the why behind behavior that's been discovered either through some other path or data science or some other way, and market research really focuses on statistically significant samples. So really large samples. They usually manage something that's called MPS, which is that question that you probably seen, "How likely are you to recommend x?" And they manage those sorts of questions, they measure end product surveys, they manage -- so they're getting at just a really general, "How do people say they feel about a brand more or less." So that was a great question. There is overlap though. If your UX research organization does some quant work as ours does, there is some overlap where either team could take on. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: And Achi -- sorry if I've mispronounced that -- had a question, also for Kevin. "You began as a researcher but now manage a team. Do many of the tech
jobs eventually lead to management positions and to what extent do you enjoy the new position?" >> KEVIN NEWTON: Great question as well. So this is funny. We joked about this, or at least I joke about this. Yes, I think in tech companies, not just in research, but also in engineering and otherwise, if you're really good at your job, the model is then to take you out of that job and give you a whole new job, which is to manage people. So it's really
kind of like an oxymoron of how that works, but I will say this. So -- so yes. It is usually an option if you're a top performer, they will -- they will usually approach you, but let me say this: a lot of tech companies, especially -- and LinkedIn does -- will have a path for you to go if you want to stay a researcher. So we have levels on both tracks that go up to the senior director level. So you can be a national researcher not managing people and get up to what we call "senior principal researcher," which would be the same level and same sort of compensation, et cetera, and influence as a senior director people manager. So you don't have to go into management to be successful in most tech companies, which is great, and just quickly, I'll say, I love people management side, because it allows me to scale my influence and my impact, because now I have a team that -- that I represent that I am lucky enough to have a little bit of influence over how they do things and what they do, and they're an amazing team, and it's just like -- it's like a proud papa watching.
I'm also a father of two girls, but it's like a proud, just watching your researchers go and really do an amazing job, and it's very rewarding. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Kay, great. We have question from Rachel, who's a doctoral student managing a collaborative digital research project and very interested in going into design research or product management for justice- and equity-related pathways. What advice do you have for grad students on what steps we can take to be competitive for design research positions? So that's her first question. Both of you feel free to answer. >> KEVIN NEWTON: I can... I can say a little bit since UX research is more aligned, I think, a little bit to design research. Yeah, I would
say definitely, if your grad program allows you to do some sort of cross courses, then I would definitely get some sort of [indiscernible] economic or psychology, or business, or something like that to kind of supplement your qualitative and ethnographic lens, only because typically, those ethnographic designs where you take people into the field and do massive things are given to more senior researchers so, when you're trying to break in, if you say, "I know how to do this, this usability test or card sorter," or whatever, you're more likely to get your foot in the door. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Astrid, any comments on that question? Advice for grad students on how to become more competitive for a position, particular position? >> ASTRID COUNTEE: I think my biggest piece of advice is to develop a skill while you're in grad school, and by that, I just mean something that you might enjoy doing, but allows you, like it's directly related to whatever type of role you think you want to do. So that could be if you really enjoy writing, develop your writing skill. If you really enjoy analysis, develop that skill. I found that, especially at the beginning of my career, I got hired for my skills more so than my education, but then as I have progressed and moved up entire levels in organizations, my education became more relevant to the roles, because it meant that I had a perspective. So I think it's kind of good to have like a little area of expertise that you can demonstrate somehow. So if you love design, then maybe that's something that you can work on while you're in graduate school and build a portfolio, because that's a really great way to show your value to a company in the beginning of your career. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Kay, and she also has
a second question. "Do you have any recommendation or advice for seeking out more non- or anti-capitalist roles in tech?" Kevin, you've worked in non-profits. >> KEVIN NEWTON: Yeah, I think the only advice there from me would be community, which is sort of the last thing that I kind of said quickly at the end of my talk, but I did work for a non-profit. I found a non-profit through
my community who recommended me to them, and I went and met with them, and to Astrid's point, I was able to display some of my skills that I had done, and so, yeah, so I think immersing yourself in whatever it is. If it is -- If it is start up, if it is social justice related start up -- I mean, there's non-profit start ups, which is what I was at, immerse yourself, find those people, have conversations with them and talk about your skills, and market yourself. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Astrid, any comments on that one? >> ASTRID COUNTEE: I -- I think of -- to piggyback off what Kevin was saying about community, I have found that community management can be a really interesting role where your job is to help grow a community, and I've done that before. I managed a community called "Data for Democracy." We did a lot of social
impact work using data science, and it wasn't necessarily -- I'm not sure exactly what she's wanting to know about the anti-capitalist perspective, but we were doing social impact work, and there are definitely tech organizations who are all about trying to do social impact work, trying to improve the tech ecosystem. So there's -- there are definitely jobs for that if that's something that she is looking for. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Right. Exactly, and the last question is a bit on the long side, but "Based on your hiring experience, how does product management and UX design methods and projects accomplished during a doctoral career translate into years experience when applying for jobs? So for example, if a Ph.D student completed 3 to 4 of product managements as
part of their ethnographic research, does that translate equally to people in hiring roles?" So, in other words, I guess do you get credit for the time spent in graduate school if it has been very much hands-on experience? >> ASTRID COUNTEE: I can take that one. I think it depends on the role that you're applying to. So what I have found is that there are some roles where they're looking for a Ph.D scientist. Like, that's what they want. They want you to have a Ph.D. They want to see your dissertation. They want those skills. Those roles can range in tech companies because it's sometimes it's very specific. So, for instance, there are roles now around AI ethics, and that's what they're looking for, oftentimes a Ph.D. scientist to do that role, but I think it also means, like, you also have to think
about the company itself. So if the company is a larger company, that's where you tend to find roles where you can kind of use your Ph.D experience to your greatest benefit, because they tend to have the space to have those roles be really effective in the organization. Smaller companies, and start-ups, they're usually looking for specific skills that are going to help them grow. So in that case, the Ph.D. may or may not be as important to
them. What is going to be more important to them is, what did you do, and what can you do, you know, hitting the ground running? What are you capable of doing? So I think it depends on what kind of been organization you're interviewing at, how much it's weighed or not. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Okay. Great. Deborah has a question for Astrid. "Thinking about the infrastructure plan the Biden administration is proposing, how do you see the climate tech field working within that framework to help mitigate extreme climate weather patterns?" >> ASTRID COUNTEE: Yes, the answer is yes. So there is a huge initiative inside of climate tech that's only about transportation, only about infrastructure. It's one of those things that if we don't fix that infrastructure, make it something that is more malleable and more sustainable, it's going to kind of drag a lot of the other progress. So, yes, infrastructures are a huge part of the climate tech world,
and I think that the new plan is -- it's trying to kind of continue some things that the Obama administration wanted to do, and as far as infrastructure in the U.S., we're really behind other developed nations, so we have a lot to make up for. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Kevin, do you want to take a crack at that? >> KEVIN NEWTON: At that one? >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Yeah. >> KEVIN NEWTON: Yeah? Umm, I don't know. I would say, I don't have enough context for that one, but I would like to say something about the previous question just really quickly.
>> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Sure, absolutely. >> KEVIN NEWTON: I wanted to piggyback what Astrid said and say that Microsoft, which LinkedIn is part of Microsoft, has an entire organization of Ph.D. researchers that partner with universities that do and publish knowledge around the future of work and how productivity is done and that sort of thing, and so I think there are definitely opportunities for that path. In terms of UX research and otherwise, I think, again, what Astrid said, and kind of go back to my first point about supplementing your education, if you don't do that, if that's not the path you want to go down, make sure -- and even if it is, make sure you're doing projects that you are having people who -- having a big group of people who are interested in your research so, what we call stakeholders, you're managing them, you're interacting with them, you're able to lay out the skills that you developed during your applied projects in your Ph.D. or Master's Program, so that it mimics what you might do in a company. The more you can do that and the less you
can do, "Oh, I got this idea from a non-profit. I went away for a really long time, and I came back, and I delivered a report." That won't be as impactful if you're like, "I met with them monthly. I let them know about this. I -- I took them on fields visits." That's what's going be really impressive to a hiring manager. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Kay, great. Jessica has a question about working in tech, "How open
are hiring managers if you have an undergraduate degree compared to masters or Ph.D.?" >> ASTRID COUNTEE: I can answer that. So, I did start working in tech with my undergraduate degree. I worked while I was getting my masters in anthropology, and I started as a data analyst, so I think with technology, one of the things that's different about this sector versus some other sectors in the economy is oftentimes you get hired for what you can do, but also what it appears like you will be able to do. There's a lot of ability to kind of learn
as you're doing, and a lot of times, especially, when you're starting out after school, what they're interviewing for is also aptitude to learn. So it's not something where you always have to have all the skills before you can get the job, if that's something that you want to do. There's -- not -- not every position is going to be available to you at the bachelor's level, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to, if you are not interested in going to graduate school, but you do want to build a career in tech, it is very possible to do that in all kinds of ways. So I started as a data analyst. I ended up working as a
software engineer for a while and a data scientist. There's different paths that you can take. I've also known people who are researchers who have only have a Bachelor's degree, but they have a lot of experience. So there's a lot of weight given when you're on the maker side especially to what it is that you can do, and that doesn't always mean that you have to have certain degrees, but that said, there are still some positions that are kind of designated only for those with a masters or the PhD. So I think if there's a specific
sort of role that you know you want, and that's the sort of requirements they have, then that's something to keep in mind, but if you are just kind of wanting to get started, you can definitely do that with a bachelor's. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: And Kevin, is that also true in your area? >> KEVIN NEWTON: Yep. Yep. I won't say a lot, but, yes. 100%. I think -- I mean, we have people come from all different backgrounds,
journalist, we had a music composer, like a conductor who went to undergrad, I mean -- the path to UX is not one way. What I would suggest is, Astrid kind of said this, find a position that you want, and then really do, this is one way I really will say LinkedIn will come in handy, also Indeed and other job boards, look up that role, and see what the requirements are and suee what the skills are and see if you can develop those either through your program or through Udemy or through LinkedIn Learning or through some other skills-based training. >> ELIZABETH BRIODY: Okay, great. I know that more of you have questions. We will be able to respond to the remaining questions as well as the ones we've already covered in -- on a written document that will be posted on Communities, probably within a week of this webinar. So we will get all of your questions answered, and that way, you'll have a record of them, and just a few closing remarks. You
will get an evaluation. Please fill it out. Check out Communities. You all have access to it, because you registered for this career webinar, and then finally, we have a few other career webinars this spring. As Jeff pointed out earlier, the next one is "Careers in the Public Sector," but we also have one, the following one is on accessible designers using in their jobs, and finally one on building careers in global information -- sorry, geographic information system. So thank you, all, for coming to the career webinar today. We're
delighted that you did come, and we hope to see you soon!