I joined Kainos in July 2018 as a Graduate User Researcher after studying Psychology for three years at Aston University in Birmingham. Whilst figuring out the career path I wanted to take, I started off with a very broad outlook. I was looking at grad jobs related to advertising, healthcare, education and a few other industries but nothing stuck out to me. Then, I came across an advert for User Research at Kainos. I had never heard of the job title ‘User Researcher’ at this point and, from that alone, I was very intrigued. The focus of the role is understanding the user, which includes their understanding their behaviour and the types of characteristics they have, understanding their needs and motivations behind using the service/product. The more I looked into this role, the more I realised that there were great career opportunities in this particular field, and it was important to me to find a job role that utilised the skills and knowledge I have learnt over the three years Id spent at University.
Kainos works with both the private and public sector and seeing the projects that Kainos are involved with enticed me to apply for the role, particularly their public sector customers. I wanted to be involved in the public sector because I like the concept of providing a service to benefit the public. Discussing the work that other User Researchers have been able to be involved in on public sector projects has taught me a lot.
One of my (many) highlights
My first week at Kainos started off with an ‘Experience Design Induction week’ ran by Jo, a User Researcher and Chris a UX Designer. This induction week introduced me, and three other graduates Faye, Claire and Vee to the world of UX and also to Kainos as a company. As a team, we were given this problem statement to work on for the week: “Kainos is a rapidly growing company, how do we make sure new starters have all the information they need to get started?”. We broke down the problem and spent the week discussing our own experiences as a new starter, identifying user needs and trying to generate different ideas that would help solve the problem.
It was great to experience journey mapping and how to identify and solve pain points in the user’s journey, and it was interesting to have people from different job roles explain what they do and how these roles all work together in a team. Jo and Chris generated a space for us where we all felt we could ask any question and have open conversations without feeling like we were saying anything stupid, which was an invaluable experience before working on a project.
I started the MOT project with DVSA in Nottingham two months into my role; this project is very well-established and Kainos employees have been present in their office for around five years. There was an amazing team of researchers when I initially started on the project, who kindly took me under their wing to show me the ropes and get me up to speed. The project focused on improving the safety of Britain’s roads, therefore much of the research included talking to people from the trade (e.g. MOT Testers) but also, talking to the public and understanding what information can be provided to ensure and encourage that they keep their vehicles safe.
During my time at DVSA I got to practise many different types of research methods, which included: usability testing, interviews, surveys / questionnaires, guerrilla testing, A/B testing, etc. Although I was shadowing lead researchers on this project, they all let me develop my skills by allowing me to take the lead on certain research activities, from writing research plans, to recruiting participants, and I was able to conduct research independently, which massively developed my confidence.
Developing yourself is encouraged
The London office has a great sense of community and I have met so many talented people who come from all different backgrounds and everyone is open to spending their time with you whenever you need help, which I have appreciated a lot. I have regular fortnightly catch-up calls with all my fellow researchers, which is a space where we can express any concerns, seek advice, talk about what you have achieved during the week or anything that you see fit. I have found these very useful, especially when I have been unsure about something, because I have always been given helpful advice.
Kainos encourages you to develop your skills, and learn new ones, wherever you feel is necessary and ones that will help you and also help your project. I have been lucky enough to attend a few conferences over this year and I think these have helped improve my understanding of the fundamentals of user research. I can’t believe my one year anniversary with Kainos is approaching, and I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have been given during the time in my role!
Find out more about graduate careers at Kainos here.