April 07, 2009
Get Money for SI!
I know you're looking for sources of funding and here are some resources to help you out. Take note...you should start this around January because most due dates are in March early April.
Scholarships Fellowships etc
Women in Computing
http://www.awc-aa.org/scholarship.aspx (deadline is April 1 so next year for incoming students! )
ALA Spectrum Scholarship
(This is a library org but b/c SI is a library accredited school you can swing your essay
to apply to libraries as well as work related to your specialization. I won the scholarship and I'm an HCI student. SI also
matches this funding source as well as the Women in Computing monies.
GEM Fellowships (minorities)
Sandia Labs Masters Fellowship (for minorities)
Global Change Education Program
Blogs about funding:
General funding by Mary Ann an alum
Funding Info by Laura Elgas
Part-time jobs by Wei an alum
Michigan Funding Resources
Rackham Merit Fellowships
GSI Info from Rackham
Other funding sources suggested by Rackham
Part-time work @ the U:
Also check iTrack/career services for jobs once/if you accept and create your umich account/user name.
I tried to find funding available specifically for international students but this was tough...will keep a look out.
March 31, 2009
These are just some random things I've learned from doing interviews these last few months and include type of questions asked and any advice recruiters have provided.
Types of Questions asked:
1. What (usability) method (the kinda stuff you'd learn in SI682 or 622) do you like the best and why?
2. What method did you find most helpful/informative?
3. Tell me about X project? (Include the final outcome not just the context/ problem statement.)
4. How do you deal with a coworker/ team member/ manager who does not see the need for UX design/usability evaluation or your recommendations related to it? (lots of questions about persuasion.)
5. How would you structure a testing session? (Include key features about it.)
6. Tell me a time when you've lead a project.
7. Questions regarding conflict within a group and how you handled it.
8. Often there is a question about an area of weakness or maybe a response shows a weakness...which is okay (so I hear) as long as you tell how you are improving on this weakness/learned from the experience.
9. Multi-tasking/ How you deal with conflicting priorities and limited time.
...my friend (a recruiter) told me for behavioral interviews to have two or three instances from your work/school experience prepared in advance for each type of behavioral interview question (conflict, persuasion, leadership, weakness, regret, successful experience etc) so that they easily come to mind and you can choose the best situation based on the context of the interview.
One recruiter told me to quantify work as much as possible, either by listing the number of people you've worked with, time or other measurement saved as a result of work, .... (this goes for resumes too)
For behavior questions structure your responses as such:
- The problem
- Your role and how you addressed the problem
- The outcome
Include your GPA (if its a good one) for undergrad or other graduate programs. (I've found they always ask.)
Include any study abroad experiences. They tend to ask questions about this especially since industry is so globally connected and its generally a good talking point.
Also try to structure your job summaries to include the results of your work. Work resulted in 2 second time savings for the 5,000 users...etc.
My friend with lots of corporate experience said keep your cover letters short and to the point (mine were like a FULL page and crammed with stuff LOL) but include information about the company and how your skills fit what you know about them. This shows your letter isn't generic, you've actually thought about what the company does and your "fit" within it.
Just some thoughts for ya...I plan to talk about my experience looking for employment in the current job market next. Stay tuned :)
March 10, 2009
How Technical is the HCI Track
I've been getting a considerable amount of questions from prospective students with a computer science or computer engineering background about how technical or intense the MSI program is, particularly for the HCI track. So I decided to address it in this blog post.
So first I would say the level of intensity depends on your specialization and the classes you take. If you are a well practiced programmer then you are likely to pick up programming much easier then others. Yet, some SI courses will allow you to either practice your skills and introduce you to new languages.
The Information Analysis and Retrieval specialization (IAR) is inherently more technical and allows for this. Dragomir Radev is the main faculty member for this specialization and students in this area would take courses like SI650 Information Retrieval or ...
Fellow recruiting assistant Malhar Gupta can speak directly about the IAR & HCI specializations and comes from a tech background.
Other courses that would be challenging for you include:
SI 508 Networks: Theory and Application
SI 601 Data Manipulation (1.5 credits)
SI 618 Exploratory Data Analysis (1.5 credits)
SI 650 Information Retrieval
SI 649 Information Visualization (Program in Processing or other desired language to create an infoviz project)
there are typically taken by those with interest in SC/HCI/IAR
SI682 Interface & Interaction Design has a project requirement to create a prototype based on user research and findings from conducting user-centered methodologies. So as the technical person on the team you have to opportunity to lead the programming effort. For an example of what an end product might look like see my groups project site: http://mitalkers.interspike.com/
We had a guy with programming experience who used PhP and another team member with significant experience in web design/CSS/HTML who skinned out final hi-fi prototype.
542-1 Introduction to Health Informatics
This course also has the option of creating a working prototype to address an opportunity you research in health IT.
Other students have used their cognate courses to further improve their portfolio by taking classes that requires developing a functioning prototype as a key deliverable in the class.
Finally, I'd like to say that first, having the ability to program and understand SW development is SUPER valuable. A quick look at Interaction Design or Information Architecture job posts will illustrate that companies are seeking candidates with some programming background for these positions. Second, SI's focus on user-centered design is essential for creating usable applications that address relevant and necessary functionality of a system that is demanded by its users. Such principles are not always covered in CS or CompE degrees and so HCI is the perfect compliment (in my opinion) to your technical skills as you learn how to identify functionality relevant for the system, what usability is, how to evaluate it and integrate user-centered requirements into a design.
Hope this helps.