Catching up with '10 Alum Erik Kennedy

By Sally Phelps

We spoke with Erik Kennedy a little over a year ago who gave some great advice about how Olin students can get ready for those terrifying technical interviews.  Now he checks in with an update on being his own boss in UX design. 

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You've been out of Olin for 3 1/2 years now - what are you doing now? 

I work as an independent User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) designer.  That means I make software that people are building   a.) easy to use and   b.) beautiful!    I'm living in Seattle, WA and doing contract work for companies-- mostly startups-- around the world.  Right now, I have clients in Seattle, Boston, and Belgium.

Most of my work is design, but honestly, I code plenty too.  So it's good to have studied engineering.  And because I'm working mostly with early-stage companies, I often have a say in the UX of a product that is really product/business strategy.  So design, engineering, and business....and there is not a school in the world that could have better prepared me to do what I'm doing now.

 

I understand you were working for Microsoft after leaving Olin.  As you know, many of our alumni go there when they graduate.  How was that experience?

I worked for Microsoft for 2.5 years and learned a ton there.  I loved my team (Access) more than just about anyone else I could find at the entire company.  Ultimately, I realized given my long-term career goals, it didn't make sense to keep doing what I was doing.

 

What made you decide to make a change?

For me, I've always known I had this desire to do my own thing and manage myself.  The question was: what would that thing look like?  Work at a startup?  Freelancing?  Starting my own business?  I did a lot of reflection on where I wanted to bring my career, and I realized that the people whose careers I wanted in 10 years were UX designers.  And for other reasons, I realized that going freelance was the best way to get to where I wanted to be.

 

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Erik enjoying the great outdoors

What do you do for fun? 

Seattle is the best outdoorsy city in the nation!   So in the summer, I try and do a bunch of mountain climbing.  Last summer, I did a bit of salmon fishing, which is a new thing for me.  And then there's the fall deer hunting season.  I guess I like what's outdoors and seasonal.

 

Of course I have to ask - any advice for current Olin students?

Learn to have fun even with responsibility looming over you.

Posted in: Alumni Speak, Learning about Design