First Year of Parsons MS SDM - Review

Just wrapped up my first year of SDM at Parsons!

Here are a few of my thoughts about my second semester

Design Leadership and Innovation:
Overall, I liked Keith Venkitswaren as a professor a lot. Keith is empathetic, funny, engaging, and able to keep the class talking because he is a strong facilitator. This class was very reflective and allowed me to identify strengths and weaknesses —and focus on what I am good at.

My strengths are writing, strategy, brainstorming, analysis, and synthesizing. I’m pretty good at research and getting data-driven insights — both qualitative and quantitative.

Studio:
This was a crazier class. A lot of Studio was focused on brainstorming and the “storm” of creativity. Our final output product was a print guidebook for collaboration spaces for new incoming students. While this product was visually pleasing, I wish that there had been more process —method to the madness. Perhaps because I’m so data-focused, it was hard for me to understand and engage with an idea that had no clear Objectives or Key Results (and we did not really create them). Without a clear roadmap or idea what success, I was unsure how to proceed towards our goal(?). Maybe I will gain more clarity next year.

End of 1st year has been really eventful. Next year, I am taking Research Methods with Jerome Goh from IDEO and a Facilitation Lab with Mark Lipton.

I’d love to share all the other great things happening, but that will be in the next blog :)

Creative Pursuits: Parsons Exhibition, First Gallery Show, Stand Up, My Zine

It’s been a crazy few weeks for me. I’ll give a short quick recap:

I was honored at the Parsons Gala for my comics and ‘Zine about cultural mixing, growing up Singaporean-American. Here’s a picture from the gala.

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Had a chance to be a part of the Emerging Artists Group Show at Greenpoint Gallery on 5/4/19. Showed a few of my new illustrations there!

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Performed my first Stand-Up Show at Caroline’s! This was crazy, but I really enjoyed it. Missed out but wanna see me perform? I’ll be at UCB in July.

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My ‘Zine: Merlion was accepted by the Toronto Zine Library and the face of the 2nd Asian Zine Fair in Toronto…really honored that my passion project has traveled so far…internationally!

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Noun Project Iconathon @ SVA

What’s an Iconathon? It’s a hackathon where designers create icons. Noun Project and SVA hosted an Iconathon to redefine icons that communicate “boss” and “entrepreneur” and I had the chance to work with an amazing team of designers to create some fun icons.

My dream has always been able to create new emojis in an emoji lab, and the Iconathon was an exciting, safe space for me to explore what this might be like. Some of my team members are visual designers by day —and great people to learn icon-making skills from.

Our Icon Making Process:
1) Diverge: Each teammate sketched out different ideas of our prompt (for example: “gamer”)

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2) Affinity: We identified areas we liked on each other’s sketches

3) Converge: Each team member started sketching more focused ideas of what they liked.

4) Crit: All the teams put their drawings up on the wall.

5) Converge: We voted! Icons with the most vote would be vectorized and created by Noun Project for their collection.

What happened? My team’s “Gamer” Icon got a love of love. It might become part of Noun Project’s female icon collection —keep an eye out!

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Data-Driven Research + Design

We need to talk about data.

I’ve spent the last month thinking about strategic design: How can we show value of design?
We’ve been moving towards OKR’s - Objectives and Key Results to break down and measure success. To create a good OKR, we need good data. We need to be specific. We need numbers. Percentages. Estimates.

My Objective was: Becoming a (25%) more data-driven designer. Here were my Key Results:

KR1) Obtained Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ)Certification
Getting GAIQ allowed me to do a deep dive and learn about Google Analytics through advanced trainings. I learned more about how to utilize this very powerful software to segment users by device and analyze conversions, drop-offs, and bounce rates on my own site.

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KR2) Obtained Google Ads + Search Certification
After Google Analytics, my next step was to learn more about how the Adwords impacted conversions. I looked at the “Why?” behind my numbers to see how to optimize searches. This was fascinating because I learned how keywords could be activated on devices by geolocation.

KR3) Completed Foundations of Python, Python Data Structures, and Using Databases with Python
Coding is not my strength, but an area I am excited to grow. I signed up for my firm’s Women in Engineering initiative to learn Python via University of Michigan courses with a buddy. My buddy kept me accountable! Python is a complete different language, and I learned about strings, integers, lists, dictionaries, and tuples (which are IMMUTABLE).

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Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the Foundations course that I went on to complete the Data Structures and Databases course. I found SQL to be surprisingly easier to understand than Python. In my final project for databases, I added my location (Parsons) to a database, and was able to geolocate myself on a map!

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Overall thoughts: Data analysis projects are interesting puzzles. I will get more into Data Science this year.

What should I learn next in Q2?

Leadership, Designing Culture, and Stand Up Comedy

In 2019, I’ve been focused on culture. Last week at work, my team (Marquee) participated in a 2-day long workshop to design culture. We participated in service design activities: creating a mixed-media collage about team culture and identity.

A few questions we asked ourselves are:

  • Who are we?

  • What do we do?

  • How do we provide value?

  • How do others see us?

Recently, I’ve also started taking Stand Up classes at Caroline’s School of Comedy. I’m learning a lot about presentation and leadership. I’ve discovered that I’m great at content and learning how to write a joke —but jokes are hard to write. A good UX writer is a strong boon to a team! My growth area is delivery - I want to be able to deliver like Alex or Mas in my class, who come full-on with energy!

I’m trying out a new routine during my Tuesday class.

I’m trying out a new routine during my Tuesday class.

Last week was Spring Break for Parsons. I’m a big reader and read David Ogilvy’s books On Advertising and Confessions of an Advertising Man. Although I am primarily a UX/Product Designer, I wanted to model after a creative leader.

I discovered that Ogilvy was a character! He is certainly a hard worker (80-hours a week) and a very engaging copywriter. But what stuck out to me is that Ogilvy was first a researcher —he references the importance of research and testing, and highlights his time working with Dr. Gallup. Ogilvy was extremely data-driven and felt it was important to write copy with specific facts - data - that would appeal best to his customers.

Sounds like a UX-er to me.

Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.”
-David Ogilvy