Breaking into HCI

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Al.

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Nov 26, 2004, 6:26:34 AM11/26/04
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Hi,

I was just wondering what it takes to get into the HCI field. I have
just finished a Ph.D. in the topic (from a Cognitive Psychology
background at a great university) and cannot even get interviews for
any positions that I've applied for.

I have a small amount of professional consulting experience, but
nothing truly solid. I have however done work on open source projects
to improve my skills, yet none of this makes any apparent difference.
Now I'm stuck as to what to do to get "noticed" and be given a break.
It's annoying as I like and chose this field and really want to be
involved, whether by producing papers, conference presentations, or
just plain work.

If anyone can give me any advice as to how to proceed, I would be very
grateful. What else can I do? Are there any really good skills to have
outside of a my research?

Al. (beginning to think of retraining as a plumber)

Bradley K. Sherman

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Nov 26, 2004, 10:15:52 AM11/26/04
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In article <5a362a8d.0411...@posting.google.com>,

Al. <alans...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>Hi,
>
>I was just wondering what it takes to get into the HCI field. I have
>just finished a Ph.D. in the topic (from a Cognitive Psychology
>background at a great university) and cannot even get interviews for
>any positions that I've applied for.

Is your c.v. posted on the web?

--bks

Dr. Alan James Salmoni

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Nov 26, 2004, 6:39:12 PM11/26/04
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Hi bks,

(this is so embarrassing to admit, but...) that is such a good idea!
I've posted one here:
http://articles.milui.com/index.php?p=14#more-14. If you could suggest
any improvements, I'd be grateful (and seriously, thanks for the
suggestion - it's one of those blindingly obvious things that just
completely missed). Perhaps a list of the kinds of tests I've done?
(TA, protocol analysis, questionnaires ad nauseum, interviews, and
quantitive measures, etc).

Thanks for the reply,

Alan.

b...@panix.com (Bradley K. Sherman) wrote in message news:<co7hb8$jpb$1...@panix3.panix.com>...

Bradley K. Sherman

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Nov 27, 2004, 10:09:49 AM11/27/04
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In article <4cbc57ec.04112...@posting.google.com>,

Dr. Alan James Salmoni <sal...@gmail.com> wrote:
>Hi bks,
>
>(this is so embarrassing to admit, but...) that is such a good idea!
>I've posted one here:
>http://articles.milui.com/index.php?p=14#more-14. If you could suggest
>any improvements, I'd be grateful (and seriously, thanks for the
>suggestion - it's one of those blindingly obvious things that just
>completely missed). Perhaps a list of the kinds of tests I've done?
>(TA, protocol analysis, questionnaires ad nauseum, interviews, and
>quantitive measures, etc).
>
>Thanks for the reply,

I had mixed reactions to seeing your c.v. as part of a weblog,
as opposed to a discrete document, but it is certainly preferable
to a PDF-only presentation.

It seems as if you should at least get interviews. Perhaps
your cover letters suck or more likely you are not applying
to the right places. Make a list of places you want to work,
do some detective work and find the name of managers in the
groups you want to work in (forget HR for this project) and
send those managers a letter --paper, not electronic.

Are you squabbling with your adviser? In the states, PhD
dissertation advisers oftn help with job searches.

Good luck.

--bks

Alan J. Salmoni

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Nov 27, 2004, 12:14:27 PM11/27/04
to
Hi Brad,

Thanks for the comments.

I've put the CV onto a dedicated page (milui.com/cv.html) which should
make things easier.

My covering letters might not be so good, but it's hard to tell. I'll
send some on to some honest folks that I respect and get their
opinions. I think a lot of the problem is the job situation in the UK.
Here, a lot of positions are handled by agencies who may not have the
knowledge of the area that they think they do. Consequently, a lot of
positions want HCI skills only as a subset of a programmers skills (eg,
"5 years C++ experience with knowledge of usability issues").

I get on okay with my supervisor, but he doesn't show any interest in
my career; He just wants to finish the two or so papers to be dragged
out of my thesis so there's not much there.

The next step then is to identify some companies I admire and go for
them. I applied to Google a while back and got through 2 interviews,
but didn't get any further - I'm absolutely fine with being rejected as
at least I had a decent chance to have my say - but the position
probably wasn't suited to me (basic usability testing without much
initiative) so it was probably best that I didn't get it. I like
creating things as well as validating them.

Anyway, thank you very much for your reply Brad - it has already been a
help and an extra motivation.

Alan.

Simon Hosie

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Nov 28, 2004, 6:26:43 AM11/28/04
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Al. wrote:
> I was just wondering what it takes to get into the HCI field. [...]

> I have however done work on open source projects to improve my skills,

I think that if I were trying to get into anything to do with human
interfacing I'd keep quiet about the open source world, or at least be
very careful about how I mentioned it. Both because of my own
prejudices and because of everybody else's.

Open source software is popularly perceived as unusable, whether it is
or it isn't. It may be that people think you're out of touch for
contributing to that mess.

I think that open source software has become a huge collection of
witless rip-offs of commercial software with buggy interfaces that are
all working to stay one step behind Windows, and I think that Windows is
a terrible place to look for inspiration. I'd think you were out of
touch for contributing to that mess.

Alan J. Salmoni

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Nov 28, 2004, 8:47:39 AM11/28/04
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Interesting perspective Simon, but then perhaps that would be where the
challenge is - to take something damaged and produce something
worthwhile and usable. I understand that some people may have an
over-generalised predjudice, but it would probably be best if I didn't
work for them anyway.

KHaled

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Dec 4, 2004, 9:42:22 AM12/4/04
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alans...@yahoo.co.uk (Al.) wrote in
news:5a362a8d.0411...@posting.google.com:

>
> I have a small amount of professional consulting
> experience, but nothing truly solid. I have however done
> work on open source projects to improve my skills, yet none
> of this makes any apparent difference. Now I'm stuck as to
> what to do to get "noticed" and be given a break. It's
> annoying as I like and chose this field and really want to
> be involved, whether by producing papers, conference
> presentations, or just plain work.
>

I am sure that you have done a search for hci +jobs, when I
did the top site (go ogle) came out to be
http://www.ida.liu.se/~miker/hci/jobs/

Perhaps you can have a look and see if there are any
prospects. A point to note though.. Many companies may not
be willing to take on a hci pro. on a full-time basis, but
may consider a person on a p/t or contracting/consulting
basis.

Another asset that you should use is your web site. I looked
at it, and if I may suggest, add a little more "hard"
content. A demo makeover would be nice, as would be
literature explaining the importance of good design.
(a makeover for your site.. ??)

Your cv can be improved by adding structure.. Have a look at
http://www.dyn-web.com they have some very nice code samples
that you can use to add a better structure and manage
content.

I would say that if you are going to get involved with web
based apps. then you really have to become STRONG on dhtml,
particularly style sheets, and javascript. I looked at the
site you analyzed, WHAT site ? there is really nothing
there. ( http://www.tigermoth.com ) So, to put that in your
cv is a definite liability. Anyone who sees it will
automatically discard any claim you make.


> Al. (beginning to think of retraining as a plumber)
>

hum... good bucks, but most of the above still applies !!

btw: Someone posted about open source.. well I for one think
it is a great way of doing things.. I am using Mozilla,
Xnews, Open Office, Apache, MySQL,... and have used Linux, so
there is no way that anyone say anything bad about os. Mot
even Micro$$$oft.

--
KHaled

e-mail: khaledihREMOVEUPPERCASELETTERS at fusemail dot net
(correcting antispam crap..)
please start your subject line with the string "==NG=="

Alan J. Salmoni

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Dec 6, 2004, 1:15:34 PM12/6/04
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Hi KHaled,

Thanks for the reply. Actually the TigerMoth site at the URL is the
original one (before I was contacted). The analysis I did was just a
quick heuristic going over for which I wrote a report. I developed a
demo for them which is at http://tigermoth.milui.com, so I should make
this clear.

The idea of "hard content" is quite interesting - I was going to
illustrate some case examples in, say, the methods page, but some demos
might be nice.

Thanks again for the comments!

Alan.

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