Alexandra Chaustre McNally is a Graduate Dean's Ambassador and student in Drexel CCI's MS in Information - Human-Computer Interaction & User Experience (HCI/UX) program. She came to Drexel with a background in cartography and urban planning and now focuses her work in UX design. Learn more about Alexandra and her experience at Drexel:
CCI: How do you feel your time at Drexel has prepared you for your future career?
Alexandra Chaustre McNally: I feel prepared for a professional career in user experience (UX) design through Drexel CCI’s practical coursework and networking opportunities. My coursework has given me theoretical knowledge about design and human behavior, which has better informed my practice in team projects. In addition, Drexel has provided me with a wider network of people to connect with in this field; I even found out about different groups in Philadelphia that I am now involved with.
CCI: What are your favorite parts of the MS in HCI/UX degree program?
ACM: My favorite classes allowed me to explore the entire design process through project work. Sometimes it was creating an entirely new product, and at other times it was building upon an existing product; it allowed me to dive into other people’s needs, understandings and experiences to expand the way I think.
CCI: Did you come to Drexel with any prior experience in the UX field?
ACM: Yes, and no. Currently, I work as a transportation planner where I develop concepts for infrastructure that people use for recreation and transportation. The urban planning process mirrors the design process in that we collect information about people and their needs and then build infrastructure that can accommodate those needs, but also looks toward the future. However, I think that urban planning processes often limit this research to community data, surveys and community meetings. Since attending Drexel, I’ve learned new research techniques which allow me to go deeper into my understanding of others’ needs.
CCI: Why did you choose Drexel to pursue your graduate studies?
ACM: I liked Drexel’s flexibility. Before I moved to Philly, I lived in Chicago. I knew that I wanted to attend a school that offered the ability to complete my program both online and in-person.
CCI: What advice would you give to someone who’s considering going to Drexel for their master’s?
ACM: When entering this program, think about the skills you want to develop and then position yourself in classes and in group projects to develop these skills. Attend networking events and club meetings that are outside of your coursework to meet new people. When you meet people who are passionate about learning and about their work, try to learn from them.
CCI: What is the most important takeaway from your time at Drexel?
ACM: From my first quarter at Drexel, I’ve learned about the importance of giving feedback. Feedback is important to improve your experience and the experience of others — it makes your teachers better, the program administrators better, and yourself better because it allows everyone to reflect on their experience and look towards improvement.