Meet Kate Zasada, graduate (and now Teaching Assistant) of General Assembly’s 12-week User Experience Design course. She’s come a long way in the nine months since she first started learning at GA, and has quite a bit to show for it, including a new job at Shapeways, the world’s leading 3D printing marketplace and community. — Mollie McCormick, General Assembly
Name: Kate Zasada (@kzasada)
Occupation: Product Manager, Shapeways
1. Did you have a specific moment when you decided that you wanted to do user experience (UX) design?
I was feeling a little lost in my career and took a bunch of classes across a wide array of disciplines at General Assembly (GA). One Sunday morning, I decided to take a half-day UX design workshop. I remember it being 8 am, raining, and just really crappy outside — but I was on the edge of my seat with excitement. I thought, “What we’re discussing is jiving 100% with how I feel, these people understand me! This is what I should be doing with my life.”
2. How did learning UX design help you in your career?
Even though my title isn’t “UX designer,” I am doing more UX design as part of my job as Product Manager (PM) at Shapeways. After all, many decisions PMs make directly influence a product’s UX. Like the UX and Interaction Designers I work with, I also ask myself “What do our users want?”, then work with my team to create solutions to address their needs.
3. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Peanut butter straight out of the jar, or on Oreos. Oreos are something my roommate in college turned me on to. It’s a small thing, but it’s fun to keep some of those silly traditions alive even as a “grown up.”
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a scary question. I hope I’m still working on cool products, while helping people explore new fields. I didn’t know about UX design when I was in school, and learning about it after graduating has completely changed the trajectory of my career — and hopefully I can continue sharing that with others!
5. What did you hope to gain from the course and do you have advice for people thinking about taking it?
When I was feeling lost in my career, I started to consider grad school in Human Computer Interaction, but that seemed so intense. GA’s UX Design course looked like a good way for me to test the waters before diving in headfirst.
The course was a significant time commitment, but I’m glad I made the effort to attend class and stay on top of homework assignments. You definitely get out of it what you put into it. That said, I had classmates at all levels and backgrounds — from art directors to businessmen/entrepreneurs — and everyone gained a new perspective by simply showing up and participating.
6. What book should everyone read?
Design as Art by Bruno Munari. It was an onboarding gift from my manager at Shapeways. A big theme of the book is that if you design something really well, it will stand the test of time — but only if you consider what people are looking for and what they really want. That is the definition of good UX design.
When Kate isn’t working at Shapeways, TA-ing courses at GA, or fully immersed in New York City’s UX design community, you can find her playing on an intramural soccer team, exploring the city, and trying new restaurants around town.
Want to learn more about GA’s 12-week UX Design course? Take a look.