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Pia Steffes

Human-Computer Interaction Design MSc

Pia is studying the MSc in Human Computer Interaction Design. This course is enabling her to retrain and move to a new career path.

Your motivations, drivers and challenges

What was your main motivation to undertake postgraduate study?

I’ve always wanted to pursue postgraduate study, but only if I had found a school and course that I would have truly enjoyed. During my past job, I further developed the idea of retraining in a Computer Science related field through a master’s degree, and then I learned about the MSc in Human Computer Interaction Design at City.

What were the factors that influenced your decision making when considering postgraduate study?

On one hand, the course is quite unique in London and the world, so I was immediately drawn to it. However, I decided to enrol at City over few other similar courses after the School office set up a personal skype call with one of the academics to answer any of my questions. I didn’t receive this kind of pro-activeness from other institutions and I was very pleased with the friendliness of City staff.

What were, if any, the main challenges that affected your decision about postgraduate study? How did you overcome them?

My main concerns were around the expertise of academic staff and relevance of course content. Unlike my undergraduate experience, I wanted lecturers who were highly knowledgeable and would prepare me effectively to dive into this new industry.

Interacting directly with the School office and staff definitely helped me overcome these doubts. The PLU services for Computer Science degrees were also a pleasant surprise, next to the already successful career services department.

Why did you choose City? What made you decide City was the right university for you?

The course break-down and career opportunities, as well as the friendly but highly reputable academics involved in it.

Your student experience

What has been your student experience at City so far?

I’m very pleased with my experience so far. I’m enjoying every minute of my course and the new things I’m learning. I truly believe that what I’m learning enhances my skills and potential to work in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) field after graduation. Additionally, I enjoyed the close-knit community formed with my cohort and course staff. Finally, I attended various career and networking events that were either HCI specific or very helpful for general career advice.

How studying a postgraduate degree has helped you develop personally and professionally?

The course has challenged me from an academic perspective, helping me grow more familiar with the HCI field and building my confidence. I’m now more aware of my networking skills and what other professional skills I need to work on.

What skills and knowledge do you think the course has helped you develop?

The knowledge about HCI principles and best practices was completely new to me. I was thrilled to be able to learn and apply new concepts in the course lectures. It also made me aware of the London community for people the HCI and similar fields, and how to gain access to it.

In the past I used to constantly worry about what career to pursue with my undergraduate degree and if I was making the right choices. The most valuable lesson I’ve gained is a focus on my career goals and the skills required to achieve them.

What opportunities and experiences City has offered you during your course?

  • Opportunity to attend multiple career services events
  • A scholarship
  • HCI specific networking events
  • HCI tutorials with current industry speakers
  • A very close cohort community
  • The opportunity to work in the marketing office

What advice would you give to people thinking about postgraduate study? What would you have liked to know then that you know now?

I didn’t attend a Postgraduate Open Evening, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about postgraduate study, as it gives you a much better grasp on who your lecturers will be and what is the general ‘feel’ at City. In addition, I have now a better understanding of how much effort this degree demands and what schedules are needed to stay on top of it. I‘d have liked to know this beforehand, as I would have probably made different decisions about where to live and work whilst studying.

Your future

What are your career plans once you have completed your postgraduate degree?

I would like to work in the HCI industry either as an information architect or product designer.

How do you think City has equipped you for the next stage in your career journey?

I believe this course has prepared me to actively pursue roles in this field after graduation. I’ve learned HCI principles from an academic perspective and had the opportunity to successfully apply them in my coursework. I’m also building my portfolio that will help me in future job applications. Also, as the cohort and course staff are very close, I can now count on my own HCI network to leverage and further develop my career.