Alumni Spotlight: Brian Parsons
M.S. User Experience Design '18
UX Researcher, Sony PlayStation
Brian is a UX researcher at Sony PlayStation where he primarily focuses on accounts and accessibility. He is in charge of user research studies across the PlayStation environment, including the console, mobile app, and website. As an advocate for accessibility and inclusive design, he works to educate people about accessibility. He created a Global Accessibility Awareness Day event for PlayStation’s San Francisco office.
“When you mix creativity, empathy, and problem solving into a career, UX is a great place to go into. I'm so much happier in my new career as a UX professional.”
Information Architecture and Content Strategy were the most influential courses Brian took while pursuing his M.S. in User Experience Design, but he notes that most of his coursework was applicable to his career. “Being severely dyslexic, the Information Architecture course aligned with my brain's way of thinking and gave me confidence in my own talents,” he says. On the other hand, the Content Strategy course challenged him to think in new ways. He previously assumed that all users preferred visual communication like he does, but the Content Strategy course showed him the power of written communication. Brian directly applied what he learned in this class to his job. Content strategy proved so valuable to his company that he was able to hire a full-time content strategist.
ON-THE-JOB TRAINING & SKILLS
Brian was a full-time product owner at Nike when he started the UXD program. His plan was to switch careers from business analysis to UX, and his hard work paid off. “Once I had my first UX role within 6 months of starting the KSU program, I was able to apply everything I learned directly to my own work,” Brian says. “It was the best learning experience I have ever had.” Brian recommends part-time education to many people because learning has even more of an impact when you apply it directly to your job, putting theory to practice. Brian thinks the most important skills and qualities for UX professionals are active listening when communicating with your customers and stakeholders, understanding your biases clearly, and always being curious.
LANDING THE JOB
The biggest challenge in landing his current position was believing he could get a UX job and resisting the safe and easy option of returning to his old career, which he didn’t enjoy. “The job market is really difficult in UX because of a misunderstanding of what UX means,” Brian says. He explains that many visual designers apply for UX jobs with gorgeous portfolios, but lack essential skills in interaction design and psychology which empower UX professionals to make products more user-friendly and intuitive. When seeking a job, Brian believes it is important to know your strengths and to understand how to communicate those strengths to hiring managers.
ADVICE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS
Brian advises current iSchool students to figure out what their natural talents are and what makes them happy. In his own career journey, he took the time to realize what he wanted to do and what he can do well. “Being dyslexic, for me at least, weeded out anything related to a lot of reading and writing, so I knew something in the visual space would have to work,” Brian says. He enjoys his work as a UX professional since it is a mix of creativity, empathy, and problem solving.
Learn about other successful iSchool graduates in our Alumni Spotlights.
POSTED: MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021 - 1:15PM | WRITTEN BY: JULIA STONE