Get to Know Jennifer, Principal UX Researcher
What is the best thing about being a UX Researcher?
Being a researcher means you are getting paid to ask a lot of questions and it is an asset to keep one’s child-like curiosity. My most favorite part is during analyses of findings because a researcher has this exclusive chance of knowing something “new” that potentially no one else knows or has thought of before. It is a brief moment, magical almost, but it is an experience shared by researchers around the world and throughout history – the joy of discovery.
What is the hardest thing about being a UX Researcher?
To be a researcher is like being that one horrible person telling everyone else that “their baby is ugly.” It is something that researchers need to prepare for, mentally & emotionally. I have experienced different reactions through the years and I have learned that what separates great researchers from rest is the fact that great researchers don’t say “your baby is ugly” but instead, telling others “so it is not perfect but it could approximate perfection, let us work together to make it better than how it is right now.”
What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
My first month at Target can be best described by the phrase “hitting the ground running” because as I was just getting to know my colleagues, setting up my benefits, and learning the new acronyms used in the company, I was also running back-to-back research studies both in-person and remote. Thriving within Target culture is something I consider an accomplishment. With regards to “the greatest” – that is yet to come.
What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
At Target, I have never felt lost or alone. Despite the sub-zero temperature on my first day, the UX and Product teams have given me the warmest of welcomes. There was always someone who could answer my questions or pointed me to someone who could. At Target, I am surrounded by strong & intelligent people. I appreciate working alongside people who are accomplished and talented but, more notably, people who see me, hear me, and treat me as their equal.
What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
EVERYTHING has been exciting but if I have to choose one, it’s got to be the research that I have been doing with Apparel & Accessories. On the surface, the task disguised itself as like any other research round that I have been doing for many years now. However, when I started talking to guests about the topic, I have discovered perspectives, motivations, experiences that I was not previously paying attention to. The experience was a growth opportunity and what could be more exciting than that?
What should every designer be reading right now?
Every designer should try to have a deeper understanding of how the human mind works, no matter how difficult or boring some of the reading materials might seem at first. Daniel Kahneman (a Nobel laureate) and Amos Tversky are two of my favorite cognitive psychologists because their studies on judgment and decision making & behavioral economics have a lot of practical applications, especially with user experience design work. For starters, I would recommend reading Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always wanted to become a scientist. Growing up in Philippines, I used to watch a science show on television and part of the intro song goes this way: “tayo’y likas na scientist” (we are born with the curiosity of a scientist). I took that to heart. When kids around me would say they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, I said: “I am going to be a scientist” even when it was not cool to be one or when no one really knew what it meant. Instead of pursuing medical school after my undergrad, I left home to study abroad – that adventure led me to be a researcher at Target.
Best career advice that you’ve received?
“It is ok to be confused. It is ok to change your mind.” These were the words of my adviser in graduate school. She said this when I was not sure which career path to take for fear that I would make a mistake in my decisions and end up unhappy and feeling trapped. Her advice made me more aware that my needs and wants may change over time. Isn’t it curious when statements of “uncertainty” are the ones that actually make us feel more “certain” about the decisions we make?
Dogs or cats?
Dogs. 100%. I have a dog named Blue, a 14-year-old, Rottweiler and Blue Heeler mix. He is our part-time pillow, part-time cuddle-buddy, part-time alarm clock, pretend attack dog, and full-time eating machine.
What is your dream superpower?
I would like to be able to read minds, from afar. That would streamline communication big time. Also, that would make me the best researcher the world has ever seen.
Anything else you want to say?
If you would like to enjoy the sun, sea, and sand while learning about User Experience in Southeast Asia, join me in Manila, Philippines in May for the User Experience Philippines Conference (#UXPH2018). As the current President of the Board and one of UXPH’s founding member, I invite you to follow our journey at www.uxphilippines.com.