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Design & UX

Ally Baldwin, Lead Designer at Umajin

An internship that has allowed her to grow with the company, Ally shares her experience of applying her design qualification at Umajin and how the on the lessons she has learnt on the job, have really propelled her understanding of design. Thanks for sharing, Ally.

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I make life easier for people in small and meaningful ways.

“After I have finished designing the perfect user experience I put the icing on the cake by designing a visually beautiful interface.”

And for the adults, what does a typical day-in-the-life of a Lead Designer at Umajin look like?

My job is to have user empathy at every step when designing a product or experience. I care about the user journey and flow and I care about who the user is and how to make a process less frustrating and more enjoyable for them. 

After I have finished designing the perfect user experience I put the icing on the cake by designing a visually beautiful interface.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in Design?

That it’s an art based career, that it’s mostly a creative career and that it isn’t a problem solving profession.

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Yes definitely! I was intrigued by websites and video games and loved the idea of creating something digital that people use and engage with.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Umajin?

I studied a degree of Design Innovation specializing in Media Design at Victoria University of Wellington. Before my last year of study ended I spent some time getting my portfolio and CV ready, joined the Summer of Tech program and got an internship as a designer at Umajin. 

I was the only female designer to get an internship through Summer of Tech that year. After my internship Umajin kept me on as a member of the design team and I spent the next few years learning and working on various projects where I worked my way up to Lead UX/UI Designer.

“I learnt more in my first year at Umajin than I did my entire degree”

Can you share some more insight into what that transition into Umajin was like? 

For me it was a transition from student to design intern to professional designer. I learnt more in my first year at Umajin than I did my entire degree! Real world experience is so different to studying but much more rewarding and valuable. 

I also picked up skills that degree’s can’t really cover such as working on a team with lots of various roles such as marketing, development and project managers. I also learnt a lot about working with clients and communication. 

What is it specifically that you like about working Umajin relative to your past jobs? 

Umajin works with a lot of new, unreleased technologies which always provides a challenge and learning curve that I love. Most of our clients are large international companies which is exciting and it can feel like you’re making a real impact on the world. 

The team is awesome and work together really well. There’s always lots of fun banter in the office.

Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?

Get a relevant degree, pursue projects you have a passion for outside of your degree, curate a tidy portfolio of your work and do group based workshops where you can. An important one is to get involved in internship programmes as soon as your degree is coming to an end.

A lot of students want to go travel or have a break but this is the time you need to get your foot in the door to the industry.

Lastly, Umajin continues to evolve.  What kind of candidates do you think Umajin is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?

For intern and junior roles we are looking for people that are eager to learn, work well in a team and are nice people to be around. When taking on design interns I’m not looking for someone who is already the perfect designer, they just need to show potential and a passion for UX and UI design.

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