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Sophie Gardner

User Experience Designer

UX Designer

Internships and mentors helped Sophie Gardner demystify computer design 

A long time ago, humans navigated the world using the sun and the stars. Gradually, we shifted to compasses and paper maps, and today most of us rely on our phones. We’ve come a long way, but navigation is still changing all the time.

As a User Experience (UX) designer for Google, it’s Sophie Gardner’s job to anticipate those changes and ensure that Google Maps stays ahead of the curve. That can mean updating the map to include different modes of transport such as ride sharing, launching features such as eco-friendly driving routes, or adding COVID-19 testing and vaccination centres. 

Everyone starts somewhere

For Sophie, UX Design offers the perfect blend of creativity, sociology and technology. “I’ve been interested in computers since I was young, especially when it comes to finding creative ways to customise the appearance or behaviour of my devices,” she says. But it was only after she began studying computer design at the University of Sydney that she realised UX Design existed.

Sophie credits internships as opening her eyes to the possibilities of her field. She completed five during and after her studies, including two in UX design at Google. “The industry definitely felt vast and confusing when I was at school, but once I got my first internship [at Google] a lot of things became clearer,” Sophie says.

Mentors have also helped guide her. “Every one of the most valuable things that I’ve learnt has come from mentors, and they can be anyone: teachers, other design students, managers or intern mentors,” she says. 

One of the most important lessons Sophie has learnt is that you don’t need to be good at something to get started. “I certainly wasn’t!” says Sophie. “While I was studying, I kept telling myself that ‘everything is learnable’ and that is certainly true.” – Amelia Caddy

Sophie’s study and career pathway

  • Bachelor of Design Computing (Honours), University of Sydney
  • UX Design Intern, Google 
  • UX Engineer & Product Design intern, Quora
  • UX Designer, Google

This article is brought to you in partnership with Google and originally appears in Careers with STEM: Technology 2021.

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