Name: Jaime Sparr
Graduation Year: 2012
Job Title: Senior Product Designer
Describe your design journey. I was lucky enough to be connected with a great design internship and contract role during my senior year at EWU, thanks to Mindy. After graduating, I moved to the Bay Area for an internship that let me do a mix of visual and product design, and from there I’ve been able to continue to work and grow as a product designer!
What are some of the responsibilities of your current position? I do a TON of user interviews and synthesis of the findings. We use generative user research to inform our product process–specifically, it’s my job to talk to users, figure out what their pain points are, and then work with our product team to figure out which pain points are the most common or the most important to solve for our business. Once we’ve prioritized what we want to solve, we work together to ideate on solutions, and I get to go execute on designing the UI and UX of those solutions!
What is your favorite part about your position? I love talking to users; I get to work with petition starters on Change.org and they are some of the most inspiring, hard working people. And my whole job is to be their advocate and ensure that we’re building things that will serve them, and come up with product solutions and designs to do just that. I love the problem solving, and I love that I get to problem solve for people trying to make change in the world.
How did the Design Program prepare you for your current position? The Design Program definitely taught me the importance of and how to effectively problem-solve, as well as the ethics of how we problem solve and the responsibility we have as designers. It also instilled a love and appreciation of design in me. I’ve always loved art, but better understanding the history and fundamentals of design gave me a much deeper appreciation than I had prior to the program.
What was most memorable to you about your experiences in the design program? Definitely the program community! I loved being in a smaller group with other design students and having this shared experience of going through a pretty intense and rigorous study program that all culminated with the final show of our work. I still have the work from my senior project!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing a design degree? My little sister just went through the program too, so I’ve been giving a lot of advice on this!
I’m coming at it from a product design angle–I’m a big believer that product designers come in “flavors.” There are so many possible skills we can have. In addition to the sort standard design skill set, we can also code, illustrate, animate, interview users, and more.
Figure out what you might be! For example, if you write amazing code, you can afford to not be great at visual design or user research–maybe you’re more of a technical designer and you work on internal tools for a team. Or maybe you’re not ‘amazing’ at one or two things. Maybe you do a little of everything and you’re a generalist.
Just try and get sense of where your hills and valleys are. What do you like and what are you good at? That way you’ll know what kind of work you want to do, where you want to grow, and what kind of designer you are.