Written by Diwya De Silva, Russell Ijaya and Carmen Lee
UW/UX is a student organization committed to growing the user experience and product design community at the University of Waterloo. Our mission is to empower designers to educate and inspire each other through events, workshops, and mentorship opportunities.
2020 was an unprecedented year for many. University students had to make adjustments for how they learn, connect with others, and share common interests in a virtual landscape. Although UW/UX missed the post-workshop chats and in-person bonding this year, we engaged more students globally with the flexibility of remote webinars and recorded events. This year in review contains a rundown of some of our initiatives and how they might help you grow as a designer!
Design Talks & Webinars
Despite the new online environment, UW/UX managed to hold quite a number of remote events covering a variety of topics:
Kyryll: Practical Portfolio Tips
Kyryll dove into some tangible actions to level up what is arguably a designer’s most important asset — their portfolio. He explained what it truly means to have your portfolio be a solid answer to recruiter questions, rather than a ramble-like justification.
Jenny Wen: Designing Your Design Career
Jenny discussed her transition into becoming a full-time designer, challenges she faced in her career, and how her career goals have changed since graduation. She shared how she sets personal OKRs for herself and her career. Here’s a template that you can duplicate on Figma to set your own goals for the new year!
Vedant Patel: Intro to Freelancing
Vedant shared his experience in freelancing and provided tips on how to get started. He covered topics on branding, payment structures, and how to build a client base.
Javan Wang: Levelling Up Your Design Process With Prototyping
Javan covered why prototyping is important in the design process, what prototype form is tangible for your design thinking, and how to bring conceptual or theoretical ideas to life for experimentation.
Indent: Designing with Integrity
One of our bigger events this term was Indent: a speaker series that covered topics like challenging biases, social entrepreneurship, climate-conscious design, and designing for emerging markets. Read more about the event on our blog post written by Joe Li.
Ina Davis & Demi Pinsonneault: Challenging our Design Toolkit
Ina and Demi discussed how personal biases show up in the ways we design, and how you can acknowledge and mitigate them.
Jeff Shin: Good Work
Jeff spoke on his path to social entrepreneurship, and how to think about making a positive impact in the world through your career.
Rachel He: Climate Conscious Design
Rachel shared her experience on incorporating climate action into her work as both a student and a full-time designer.
Ashley Hu: Lawyering Up Your Design Pitch
Ashley covered how to build up and structure your design pitch to defend your work during interviews and on the job.
Richard Yang: Making and Defending Your Design Decisions
Richard discussed how to break down problems, validate assumptions, and advocate for design decisions on behalf of the user.
Check out a more in-depth breakdown and key takeaways of some of the above events on uwux.ca!
Although events have always been a fundamental aspect of pushing forward the student design community, they are not all that UW/UX has to offer. As a result, a significant step in UW/UX’s work this year was our visual rebrand, a step to better establish our identity as a friendly, supportive and inclusive student organization. Check out the full rundown and process written by Ashley Yang on uwux.ca!
Our current website linked above serves as a base for getting to know UW/UX and a step towards our continuous goal of fostering the product design community. Look forward to exciting updates in 2021!
Workshops and Critiques
UW/UX has frequently done resume and portfolio critiques at the beginning of every semester as students need to prep their job applications for the proceeding co-op term. This important initiative had to be adjusted to Slack 1-on-1 calls, but students were still able to get feedback on their work from experienced design students at Waterloo. We’ll be running resume and portfolio critiques again in the new year, so join us on Slack and check out the channel #resume-and-portfolio-critiques if you want to get feedback from a wider audience beforehand!
What has now become a tradition at the middle of each semester is our Design Interview Prep Workshop that we collaborate on with UW Blueprint. Prior to the workshop, students were surveyed on what interview types they wanted the most help with (app critique, design challenge, recruiter screen, white-boarding challenge). UW/UX and Blueprint execs focused on providing examples and walkthroughs of each interview type in breakouts rooms where students could also practice what they learned in a small group setting. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the event, then check out these interview checklist flashcards created with the help of Blueprint’s Charmaine Wang:
Finally, we ran Office Hours throughout the spring semester, and we'll bring it back in January! Office hours is where a UW/UX exec will critique your work or help you practice for an interview during an allotted time on Thursdays. It’s also been a great way to connect with fellow designers in the UW community on a regular basis. Time slots are available now!
We hope that our UW/UX community can look back on this year feeling that they were still able to grow their product design skills, make new design friends, and be inspired to share and receive feedback for their work even in this remote world. Thank you to our 25 speakers, 1200+ attendees from across the world, and our 14 club execs for making this possible. Our team is excited for upcoming initiatives, including our very first designathon in March 2021! See you in the New Year, designers. 🎉
Questions? Interested in sponsoring us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.