I’m a user research lead in PDS and I do research for all the different products and services that we build in PDS and in Parliament. My job involves talking to people about what they need, doing surveys, remote testing, and many other things.
But I wasn’t always a user researcher. I’ve done loads of jobs from making props for TV to working in web design so I’ve written about how I got to where I am.
From Norway to London
After my A-levels, I decided to come over to England to study as I wanted to study something artistic and Norway doesn't have many arts courses. I’ve always loved drawing and creating stuff so I decided to study interior design. I liked the idea of studying something like interior design where you have to work within some constraints and there’s a final product. I also thought about studying web design but at the time I was too scared of code.
After my degree, I realised that I didn’t want to work in interior design as I didn’t want to spend most of my time doing architectural drawings. So I started volunteering in a local theatre building sets while working my first ‘proper’ job for Philips Customer Service. I was doing a technical support role where I would try and help people with technical questions about Philips’ products.
After a while, I knew that I wanted to do something more creative so I went back to university to study production design for film and TV.
I started working for production companies after my MA but, after a while, you get tired of 11 consecutive working days of 11 hours each. On shooting days, you had to be on set at 7am and I missed having my weekends and evenings. After a few years, I decided to change careers again and got a job as a designer for Visa.
No longer scared of code
This design job helped me get work as a web designer and by this point, I had gotten over my fear of code. I then got interested in user experience and worked in this discipline for a while. I enjoyed finding out why things weren’t working for people and getting an insight into how people think. That led me to start working as a researcher.
I then saw that Parliament were hiring for user researchers so that’s how I got here. There’s some things I miss about Norway (snow, the chocolate, the kebab pizzas) but I’ll never regret moving to the UK to study.
The best career advice I’ve had is to fake it till you make it. I had a great manager who once told me that you don’t need to know everything all at once, as you’ll learn as you go, and your previous experience will always come in useful, whatever it is.
Interested in working at PDS? Find out more about working here.