Agent, UX Research | Seattle, WA | March - August 2015
"In this role, I was able to investigate information use in specific real-world contexts and conduct field research to inform the design of a workflow, app, product, or program."
What is an agent? What does an agent do?
It was about to be summer, and I was looking for a temporary position close to home with flexible hours, on the job exercise, the ability to work outdoors, and experience at an on-demand start up. When I still owned a car (car ownership is pretty much unnecessary when you live in downtown Seattle), I had applied to work for Lyft, but after some due diligence, I found a lot of research that mentioned the maintenence bills that resulted from driving a non-electric car on-demand, so I decided against the position, and eventually sold my car. Still interested in how an on-demand company works, I was hired on to be an "agent" which really meant on-demand valet, in the Downtown Seattle area. I quickly discovered during orientation that the role I landed was with a very small startup, which meant that I was much more likely to be put to use straight away and be very hands-on from the get-go. Turns out that working at a new location for the on-demand startup was a great way to build up my experience in the field, make mistakes and learn at light speed.
What is the difference between UX at a startup vs. larger corporation?
The difference between working at a startup and working for a larger corporation is that at a startup you’re unlikely to have a team of UXers at your disposal, but as far as I knew, there were not any UX staff on hand to report improvements to, which was probably due to inevitably lower budgets and limited resources that define startup culture.
I realized pretty fast that my job involved not just on-demand valet parking, but on-demand everything from user research to design, strategizing, testing and working with the product team (from what I knew it was only developers and feedback from other agents that I was communicating with) on implementation.
Overall, working at a startup was extremely rewarding because there was lots of room to experiment and learn quickly - while unquestionably adding value along the way.