The Human Experience: An interview with Bryan Kern ’11 M’13 CAS’13

Bryan KernAfter receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees from his hometown college of SUNY Oswego, Bryan Kern ’11 M’13 CAS’13 drove across the country to California to seek his future—a trip that ultimately resulted in a job as a user experience researcher at none other than world-renowned product and service company: Apple.

It was a move that didn’t include a job at the other end.

It was August; I didn’t bring much.

I did buy a bunch of beat-like books by Kerouac and Krakauer. I thought I was cool traveling the U.S. without anyone but myself and a car, a 2005 Kia Rio. As I got closer and closer to California, I felt as though everything I was doing was the right thing. My anxiety about not having a job subsided and the drive mellowed me out. Five days without having anyone I know near me to help if something went wrong, and knowing I could figure it out on my own, was refreshing. My initial goal after grad school was to find a job in tech, and I was able to accomplish that within a month of moving out to California.

User experience (UX) researchers scrutinize how humans use technology.

Imagine this, you open up your favorite app on your smartphone, and you really want to share something from the app to a friend. You can’t figure out how to do it. I help uncover these types of issues that arise while humans use technology, in the end sharing insights with people in charge of making the product. I talk to people to understand their needs, to help translate these needs to requirements for those in charge of said products. I also act as the voice of the user/customer and bring that voice to the table when designing products. At Apple, I’m working on internal products, which no one outside of Apple would know.

It’s all about shaping the human experience.

Humans are not perfect, and the designs created by humans are even more imperfect. User research at least helps keep it in line with the needs of users. Assumptions are bad bad bad, and that’s why there are a lot of really, really bad designs out there.

The big things in tech that will get even bigger.

1. Cryptocurrencies. What millennial carries money anymore?

2. Haptic feedback (a technology that recreates the sense of touch by applying vibrations or motion to the user).

3. The “work from home” craze.

Spare time. Playing video games, building computers, tinkering with new tech like Raspberry Pi and Echo, reading up on emerging tech, spending time with wife, Keely, and family.

Plans. Starting a family, buying a house, adventuring!

“Swimming in 
Lake Ontario is 
super underrated 
and I loved doing it.”

– Bryan Kern ’11 M’13 CAS’13

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