Today, a stranger locked their bike to mine, looping their cable lock right around my crossbar; the ultimate in thoughtless, inescapable Valentines hugs. It was cold. I was hungry. I called the campus police to come cut their lock. I felt guilty enough about it to hover around the bike for about an hour as my hands and feet began to freeze, blowing into my mittens and hoping that the careless owner of this maroon 70s cruiser would show up already and set me free. They didn't.

When the police officer finally arrived, he asked me to verify that the bike belonged to me. Didn't I have any paperwork, or registration, or other documentation to prove that this bike was mine? I didn't. "I really want to help you," he said, "but you have to show me some proof that this is your bike. Maybe a photo?"

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WIAD 2016: Ann Arbor

Wayyy back in February, I gave a lightning talk at World Information Architecture Day (WIAD) in Ann Arbor. The theme this year was "Information Everywhere, Architecture Everywhere," and I spoke about the beauty of non-expertise when approaching challenges through the lens of my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua.

It was terrifying. One of my personal goals this past year has been to push myself to do things that scare me (ahem, public speaking), so standing in front of a room full of people I admire and letting words come out of my mouth was incredibly tough. I'm so, so, so glad I did it.

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My patronus is the pizza rat: A love story about content strategy

Here’s a hypothetical situation: you’re in graduate school for oh, let’s say human-computer interaction. You took the long way there, but the moment you set foot in your design classes and met your classmates you knew you were in the right place. You spent your first year reading and pushing yourself and talking to people and finding out just how big this world of user experience design truly is, and now you’re entering your second year wondering what’s next and how to get there. Who are you, and what is your place within the design community? What do you do with the fact that you love to write? Does that just sit on a shelf, waiting for the moment you finally feel ready to put pen to paper? Or can you figure out a way to pull that into your UX work? 

Totally hypothetical.

But then, a very wise person sends you a link to a blog about a thing called “content strategy” and you’re intrigued. You have a pretty good idea of what content is, and what strategy is, but these two words together are a novelty, like a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. You wonder if you’ll like them when they combine.

You don’t know it yet, but you’re about to fall in love.

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Weed-out courses scared me away from science, and i'm not the only one.

I’ve been thinking about transcripts a lot lately. It’s internship application season for grad students in the UX field, and I have proudly sent my unofficial University of Michigan transcript to anyone that asked. This bizarrely-formatted document represents years of effort and hustle and hard work. It’s a PDF that lives on my desktop and reminds me that I’m exactly where I should be.

My undergrad transcript tells a very different story, however, one that I’m only now beginning to really wrap my head around. It’s a story that makes me mad. It’s also a story that I am learning is incredibly common, and, this being International Women’s Day, I wanted to share it.

I graduated from Boston University in 2009 with a BA in English literature and a minor in Art History, two subjects that forged a path that led to where I am now. I had amazing professors; I learned to write; I read (and loved)Moby Dick. I don’t regret it one bit, because I found out about UX and realized that human-centered design was my true calling. But did you know that I actually went to school to become a doctor?

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FOMO and the art of surviving your first semester of grad school

I'll be the first to admit it: going back to school is tough. Last summer, I left a job that I loved and moved to Ann Arbor to pursue a master’s in human-computer interaction at the University of Michigan’s School of Information (UMSI). My first week on campus was surreal, and I was instantly barraged by so much new information that I found myself questioning whether I could hack it in this new, unfamiliar environment. (Spoiler alert: I survived) 

What made things so tough was FOMO, or the fear of missing out. My undergraduate degree is in English and art history, and my primary work experience is in communications, community organizing, and agriculture. I came to Michigan excited to learn everything I could about UX and interaction design, but feeling like I had to play catch-up to get on the same level as my peers with backgrounds in computer science.

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