Advice from Alumni

by Sarah Ann J. October 12, 2021

At the end of September, students gathered in the studio to hear from two recent alumni, Ravi Seethapathy and Claudia Russo. Ravi graduated with the Class of 2020 and currently works as a UX designer at Goldmans Sachs. Claudia graduated in May with the Class of 2021 and now works as a UX designer at Saks OFF 5TH. 

The conversation kicked off with advice aimed at the many first-year students in the room. 

"You're going to be doing a lot of collaboration, so there's going to be friction," Ravi said. “The friction is important. Get used to it because that’s what is going to bring out the best in you.”

He recommended that students communicate their needs right from the beginning, including their availability and how much they are able to prioritize each class.

"Get comfortable with being uncomfortable," Claudia added, saying that the skill will serve students well both in their school projects but also after they complete the program. 

Thesis advice for the second-year students stressed the importance of choosing a topic that you’re interested in, and not feeling pressured to choose something based on others. Ravi and Claudia recommend spending time on writing the thesis blog posts because they will make the process of creating a process book much easier when the time comes. 

Ravi reminded students to make use of the IxD program’s alumni network when looking for internships and jobs. Claudia also mentioned the program’s professors are great resources too.

While the interview process differs at every company, Ravi and Claudia walked students through the lengthy processes they went through to land their current jobs, which included portfolio presentations, design challenges, and panel interviews. 

When putting together your portfolio, choose projects that represent who you want to be as a designer. 

“Don’t just show success,” Ravi said. He reminded students that failure is part of the process and to include a reflection with each portfolio project. 

Additional recommended resources included the SVA Career Development Office and the Writing Resource Center