Isabelle Pinard Didn’t Know What a UX Researcher Was—Now, It’s Her Job Title at Google
It wasn’t long ago that Isabelle Pinard didn’t know what the terms UX/UI meant. Now, she proudly boasts it as part of her job title on Google’s Android TV team.
At her new job, Isabelle has the opportunity to explore her interest in human-computer interaction—a rapidly-changing, ever-evolving technical field. She conducts independent research and discovers ways to facilitate better user engagement. Isabelle has always been passionate about the jobs she has held, but this new role fulfills her in a way no other position has. It’s hard to believe that only a few short years ago she didn’t know this field existed.
Isabelle’s successful career path didn’t start on a trajectory toward user experience design and research, but it ended up there. She credits a UX/UI boot camp powered by Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand, with helping her find her calling.
Getting from here to there
Prior to landing a job at Google, Isabelle’s resume dazzled with a litany of other merits and accomplishments. In 2016, she graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in Social-Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Cognitive Science.
After graduation, Isabelle moved to France, where she worked as a digital archaeologist at a tech start-up. She was interviewing customers, collecting product feedback, and translating that into actionable software improvements. People were often confused about what a digital archaeologist even was, a vagueness that led Isabelle to really think about her job description.
“People hear ‘archaeologist’ and think we dig up rocks and stuff,” laughed Isabelle. “Actually, what we do is study people and human behavior. A large part of digital archaeology is cognition and cognitive patterns—likes, dislikes, what gets people excited. These things affect people’s habits.”
When describing her role to a friend one night, the suggestion arose that Isabelle might be interested in pursuing a career in UX/UI design.
“I had never even heard those acronyms before,” Isabelle recalled.
Isabelle knew she liked the sound of user experience-focused work, but she wasn’t ready to totally pivot her already flourishing career. She wanted some sort of formal training in the field before making this life-altering decision—so she started researching her boot camp options.
It wasn’t long before she stumbled across the boot camp program. After looking at the sort of topics that would be covered in class, she had an epiphany.
“Looking at the curriculum, I immediately realized that this was my ticket,” Isabelle said. “This was the pathway that would align with my skill set to completely change my future.”
She started boot camp just a few months later.
Researching and building at boot camp
Within her first few days of boot camp, Isabelle immediately recognized the attitude she would have to adopt.
“When I got there, I noticed right away that you have to be a go-getter. You have to want it and be disciplined,” said Isabelle. “To succeed, you have to do the homework, make the correct portfolio, and work with your professors and your TAs to get the results you want.”
Isabelle used this momentum to propel her full force into the first group project: helping a real company create a better interface for its website.
For this assignment, Isabelle’s group chose to help a local coworking start-up. Her group was comprised of a combination of like-minded individuals—designers, managers, and researchers, like herself.
Thanks to her anthropology background, Isabelle naturally stepped into the researcher role, conducting guerilla interviews at various coworking spaces around the city. The exercise trained her in an important lesson of user interface design.
“The project taught me how to understand those really juicy nuggets of what users need versus what users want,” Isabelle said. “I really took that lesson with me, and I apply it every day to my work at Google.”
For another boot camp project, Isabelle wanted to explore the world of voice user interface, or VUI. She recognized it as an important direction technology is moving toward, and she used the boot camp as an opportunity to further her knowledge on the subject.
By the end of the boot camp, Isabelle had built a winning professional portfolio that showcased her design and research expertise. Now it was time to find a job.
Searching for her next move
After boot camp, Isabelle landed several interviews with a variety of San Francisco-based tech companies, including Uber and Pinterest. It wasn’t until she heard that Google wanted her to come in for an in-person interview that she felt her nerves creeping in.
The interview process at the tech giant was strenuous, spread out over multiple days, and actually included several rounds of interviews. During one such conversation, Isabelle found the opportunity to bring up the VUI work she had done during her third boot camp project.
As she spoke about the project, her deep passion and interest in the subject matter spilled forward, and by the end, Isabelle was convinced she had landed the job.
Her intuition was confirmed in the form of an offer letter just a few days later.
Beginning a new career
Working at Google has been a dream for Isabelle. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities for her to hone her coding skills and broaden her UX experience.
Isabelle still keeps in touch with her friends from boot camp—every once in a while they will catch-up at their favorite dumpling spot, swapping stories and sharing laughs. Isabelle recognizes the value boot camp and the friends she made there have brought into her life.
“The people I met at the boot camp have given me all of the advice and the training that I needed. Now, I feel like I can handle whatever comes my way,” said Isabelle.