Building bridges

April 29th, 2021

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Over the past two years, Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD have been partnering to provide opportunities to diverse talent within the design industry. BRIDGEGOOD UX Apprentice, Koka Yamamoto shares her experience of interning at Beyond.

BRIDGEGOOD is a nonprofit organization located in the San Francisco Bay Area that seeks to provide vital access, professional opportunity, and tech literacy to under resourced students and job seekers of color. Beyond has been supporting BRIDGEGOOD’s signature UX Apprenticeship experience, which provides tuition-free access, hands-on training, and portfolio building activities for Bay Area Artists and Designers. This past year, we mentored their apprentices, and offered an internship for a designer at the end of the program. 

We were thrilled to have Koka Yamamoto come on as our Design Research Intern for three months. Here she shares some of her experiences with Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD. 

Tell us about your background. How did you arrive at Beyond?

I received a Biology degree from UC Berkeley, and went on to work at the Oakland Zoo for several years in education, program management, and event coordination. Eventually, I took a leap and left my job to explore a more creative career path. I started taking Graphic Design courses at Chabot College, where my professor connected me to BRIDGEGOOD’s UX Design Apprenticeship. During the apprenticeship, I met Beyond staff who helped teach and mentor the apprentices. When Beyond later posted an internship, I jumped on the opportunity.

What have you been doing at Beyond? 

I was a Design Research Intern at Beyond, where I had the opportunity to work alongside talented teams on various projects. The main project I worked on was for Influenster, a product sampling and review platform that wanted to transform its user experience. Our team conducted research in order to understand current users, identify potential future users, and prioritize features to (re)design. We created personas and user journeys that will anchor the design as the project proceeds. I also experienced various stages of the design process in short-term engagements, including an ideation workshop for Netflix's platform on diversity and inclusivity training. 

What are some of the new skills that you learned at BRIDGEGOOD?

BRIDGEGOOD's UX Design Apprenticeship is a fast-paced, 3-month program that exposed me to a wide spectrum of new skills and knowledge. I held various team roles, from UX designer, researcher, to team lead. As a capstone, we worked cross-functionally with a product manager and engineer to conceptualize and design a "Support Us" web feature. Throughout the experience, I gained an array of skills spanning the design process, including conducting user interviews, interpreting/visualizing data, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing, delivering presentations, and critiquing. We used tools such as GDrive, Miro, Slack, Adobe CC (mainly Illustrator and XD), diagrams.net, and Trello. 

What are some of the new skills that you learned at Beyond?

At Beyond I honed my design research skills through real world client projects. I participated in human-centered design processes in a cross-functional environment, including stand ups, team meetings, and ideation workshops. I learned ways of conducting primary and secondary research utilizing qualitative and quantitative methods. I was exposed to various ways to synthesize data into insights, including use of affinity mapping and RICE, and delivered insights in the form of personas and user journeys. I expanded my toolkit of software skills with Figma, Dovetail, Photoshop, and Loom. Beyond taught me the importance of constantly building your research toolkit and finding ways to be creative and flexible in solving the problem at hand. 

What type of role are you looking for next?

I would love to take the skills that Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD have given me and apply it to an entry level UX Researcher or UX Designer position. I am fairly open to various entry level positions and various industries, but am particularly drawn to organizations that value diversity and inclusion and are giving back to the community.