Alumni profile—Emma van Asch

Master of User Experience Design (MUXD) alumna Emma van Asch works in the public service as a user experience (UX) designer. She explains what she loves about working in the field of user experience, and how her time at Te Herenga Waka prepared her for the world of work.

Emma van Asch

1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from the Master of User Experience Design programme in 2019 and then was brought on through the Summer of Tech programme by New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as a UX designer, helping them to design, build, and test an internal digital product in Microsoft 365 SharePoint that helps solve the problem of inaccessible research causing inefficiency and duplication in the organisation. Working at ACC has sparked a passion for design thinking in the public service and I am now about to begin a PhD looking at design thinking in the complex systems of the public service such as those at ACC.

2. What did you study and why did you choose to study at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington?

I got a Bachelor of Film and Media Studies from the University and then after pursuing film and travelling I decided I wanted to change up my career, and the MUXD course offered by Wellington’s School of Design Innovation allowed me to pursue something that I was really interested in and has since turned into a real passion, as well as advancing my academic career from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s in only a year.

3. Why did you choose your degree?

I chose the MUXD degree because user experience was something that I was interested in and it offered me the opportunity to develop academically. The Master’s was extremely intensive and practical, meaning I felt as though I had enough experience to be confident in UX upon graduating.

4. What’s your strongest memory of studying at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington?

My strongest memories are all from nine years ago—my first year in the university halls—Weir House. I met so many great people and made friends for life, many of whom are my best friends and closest confidants now and who I have continued to live with over the years flatting in Wellington. Interestingly, although we all did varied Bachelor’s degrees, we have all ended up in the realm of design, whether through further study or work progression, despite our initial degrees not having anything to with design. I put this down to us all being very like-minded, problem-solving focused, empathetic individuals who are well-suited for this work.

5. What advice would you give the prospective students here today?

While it is important to work hard and make the most of your study, a project not being quite perfect is not the end of the world. Go easy on yourself, pursue your passion, and be kind.

6. Any memorable lecturers?

Dr Catherine Caudwell and Dr Gillian McCarthy from the MUXD programme were both very memorable. They interacted with all of the students in such a great way, they made us feel like they really wanted us all to do really well and were such amazing communicators of the foundational knowledge and skills needed to be a good UX researcher and designer.

7. What does being a Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington alumnus/alumna mean to you?

Being part of a great cohort of incredible talented and smart alumni from my MUXD programme, who I still lean on for help and advice today.

8. What do you wish you had known before applying for your first job?

Under-promise and over-deliver—it’s very easy to impress people in government, if you can use Adobe they think you are a magician.

9. What were your plans on leaving the University?

To get a job where I could really apply all my learning and continue to develop as a UX designer.