Today is my three-month anniversary of working as a User Experience Advisor(UXA) at Microsoft Canada. How time flies! Thinking back three months ago today: I got lost two times when trying to orient myself in the building; I was very impressed and confused at the same time by how many acronyms people were able to put into a sentence; and I was amazed at the number of emails I received before I was even able to log into my account. 🙂 Since then many people have asked me what's it like to work at Microsoft as a recent graduate? What does a UXA really do? So I thought I'd share with you some of my experiences as a newbie at Microsoft and in the industry of User Experience.
UXA at Microsoft
User Experience Advisor is a new role at Microsoft Canada, so I was hired as the first UXA. There are 17 of us around the world act as UX ambassadors for Microsoft. We are actively evangelizing the importance of UX both internally in the company and externally, sharing our UX practices with the UX community, and introducing the upcoming new technologies that are aimed to help designers with their work. At the same time, we are in the field talking to UX professionals and gathering their feedback about the new technologies and more importantly how Microsoft can better support the design community. One interesting effect I'm still getting use to is that people look at me as Microsoft rather than as an individual working at Microsoft.
My typical week consists of a variety of different things such as visiting a design team in a company, attending/presenting at UX community events (i.e. Interaction Camp Toronto), blogging about UX news, meeting influencers in the UX filed, and trying out new technologies.
The Mobile Working Life
The whole community team I work with are mobile. Three of my teammates are not even based in Toronto. Thus, building an efficient virtual working environment is very important. Before joining Microsoft, face-to-face meetings and emails were sufficient to collaborate with people. Now I'm using audio conferencing and Live Meeting in addition to face-to-face meeting for synchronous collaboration, and email, IM, and Groove for asynchronous collaboration. It has changed the way I work and communicate.
Into the Camp World
I didn't hear much about the unconferenced style of events back in Vancouver. I was very skeptical about the idea of camp since it's not organized, especially as the presentation schedule is not determined ahead of time. However, Toronto has such a strong camp culture that it opens my eyes. The recent DemoCamp, BarCamp, and InteractionCamp were all very successful. They are great for interacting with your peers, sparking ideas, encouraging spontaneous participation.
Take on New Challenges
During the past three months, I've taken many new challenges and pushed my own boundaries such as presenting Microsoft's new products and platform to a mixed background audience and building relationship with design agencies to help them improve the UX of their products. Each challenge has been a great learning experience and at the same time pulled me out of my comfortable zone, which has helped it grown larger.
A Global Company
There are always going to be new challenges, which is the really exciting part of the job. However, help is around. I was impressed by how virtually connected the company is considering its size. In additional to local resources, just last week, I had a technical meeting with a product manager in Redmond for two hours. People are connected with emails and IM around the world. The chances are someone will be able to answer your questions. The trick is to find the right person quickly, which is something I will have to learn to improve through practice. I cherish the opportunity of sharing my ideas with colleagues around the globe.
That's it for now! I'll share more of my experience as I go along. Thanks for reading!