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Hannah Wallwork: from illustration to User Researcher

A few words about me:

A white woman with brown shoulder length hair wearing a hoodie and standing in front of a colourful background.

I'm a User Researcher with a background in illustration and I work at a lovely agency called Neontribe. We specialise in user research, design, and software development for charities.

I have a huge collection of earrings, and I smile a lot. :)

I'm also a Digital Trustee at a lovely charity that offers trishaw rides to people with mobility difficulties.

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

Surprisingly, I used to work in social media!

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

Definitely non-STEM related.

Where did your professional journey start?

My journey began with studying illustration at uni because I loved drawing and experimenting creatively. However, I discovered that commercial illustration required a consistent style, which didn't work for me because I enjoy exploring new things.

I became interested in graphic design as it offered more variety. But after freelancing as a Graphic Designer, I realised that design feedback was often vague and subjective. I also discovered that I wasn't passionate about branding, social media, or marketing. However, I truly enjoyed designing websites. Reflecting back, these were very hard to use and not very attractive either, but I still loved it!

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

I started exploring user experience (UX) but didn't know where to begin. There was a lot of information online and I read a few books.

My old uni had a job portal website with lots of local Norwich based companies. I came across Neontribe’s advert for a User Research Intern and almost didn’t click because I didn’t know what it was. It looked like it might be user experience related so I had a look and it was! I loved that they worked with charities and how they were looking to solve problems so I applied.

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

Hmm, I don't think so! I've been fortunate to work for a really supportive company like Neontribe.

"... people can come into tech from a variety of backgrounds."

What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...

Find a mentor! I’d heard this advice before but never really understood how important it was until I actually experienced having one. It was shocking to me that people would want to spend time helping you!

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

It may sound simple, but my first usability test was a true game-changer for me. Watching people interact with a website completely transformed how I saw design. It also showed me how important words are.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

I like that people can come into tech from a variety of backgrounds. However, one thing I don't like is that it can be unclear which tech jobs are relevant if you come from a creative background.

"Find a mentor or community to speak to and learn from! Don't be afraid to ask questions."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

During my first project, we held a full-day workshop. We analysed user research, identified user needs, prioritised tasks, and brainstormed ideas - sorry if that was a lot of jargon!

What fascinated me was this process of working through the interview data. Even though the workshop lasted about six hours, I felt energised afterward!

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

Find a mentor or community to speak to and learn from! Don't be afraid to ask questions.


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