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A Culture of Collaboration Has Helped This Recent Grad Grow as a UX Designer

person with pink hair and glasses smiling
Chloe L’Ecuyer, a UX architect at Esri.
| Courtesy of Esri

Chloe L’Ecuyer was in her final semester of college as an anthropology major when she discovered her passion for user experience design and decided to pursue a career in it. “I switched my final project to be focused on women in technology instead of archaeology. I focused all my efforts into cultural anthropology and human computer interaction courses for the rest of the year,” she says.

After graduation, L’Ecuyer completed an immersive course on UX design, which helped her land a job at Esri, a leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping. “I had used the company’s ArcGIS software when I worked as an archaeologist, so I was familiar with their products and super excited to put my application in,” she says. In L’Ecuyer’s short time with the company—most of which has been remote—she has grown exponentially in her career and has had the opportunity to collaborate on major projects.

Here, L’Ecuyer talks about the development opportunities she’s had at Esri, what she loves most about the company’s culture, and the biggest challenge she’s faced at work.

What attracted you to work at Esri?

I was familiar with Esri and their products after taking a GIS course in college and utilizing GIS for archaeological digs. Before my first interview, I watched tons of sessions from the Esri User Conference that year and got even more excited, especially watching the session with Dr. Jane Goodall. It was so inspiring watching those videos, seeing the impact of the products and being familiar with them myself. I also fell in love with the corporate campus during my on-site interview—it is surrounded by gorgeous greenery and so open, and everyone was so friendly.

What are you responsible for in your role?

On a day-to-day basis, I work on strategy and wireframing for Esri’s industry and brand web pages and campaigns. I attend a lot of stakeholder meetings and workshops to come up with the strategy for different sets of pages. After the stakeholder meetings, I create summaries based on the content available and determine the hierarchy and call-to-action strategy of the page, followed by wireframes of where each component will go on the page.

Along with my everyday projects, I conduct research and work on team goals, such as creating a component library or documenting page types across the site. I am also in the process of onboarding our newest team member to take over industry pages and have created a roadmap for my team’s first intern this summer.

What’s a recent marketing campaign you worked on that was especially exciting or inspiring, and why?

Over the past year, I have gotten to work on a lot of big projects (such as our COVID-19 and racial equity microsites), but I really loved working on the Geospatial Thinking site. It was a chance for UX and UI to begin collaborating to make something new and exciting, and it gave me an opportunity to be part of something that was less intense with more room for creativity in the structure and design. It really set the tone for how UX and UI have been collaborating on our team, taking an approach of working together versus working in a more waterfall style.

How does Esri help nurture and develop young talent? And how have you personally grown in your career since first joining the company?

I have grown quite a bit since coming to Esri. I have a lot of people encouraging me and helping me gain more knowledge not only in UX, but also in the company itself. My team lead has been my biggest advocate since day one. I’ve had the chance to join projects and meetings with people in various areas, which has really helped me learn the inner workings of other departments and the company as a whole.

I have also been able to grow in my UX skills thanks to my amazing colleagues. I learn something new from them all the time. We are all so collaborative and willing to share knowledge. When COVID-19 hit, I got to work on our microsite dedicated to resources and mapping the virus. It was a lot of responsibility and I worked one-on-one with my team lead, but I really felt like it was an opportunity for me to jump into something big and prove I could get the work done. I feel so lucky to be able to have such an amazing team and wonderful leads here at Esri.

I’ve had opportunities to work on my facilitation and presentation skills to the team and larger groups of people. I recently presented at the OneEsri bootcamp, an internal sales and marketing conference, which is the biggest event I have ever presented at! I’ve also gotten to take a lot of internal training sessions on topics such as facilitating virtual workshops and interview skills. These have all been amazing courses in helping me develop my skills outside of user experience. I have also read a lot of books and articles regarding UX to keep me up to date on all the newest trends and information in the design world.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced since starting at Esri, and how did you overcome it?

Transitioning into working in an entirely virtual world has been one of my biggest struggles. I am an extrovert, so I loved being in the office to chat with people, get coffee, have lunch, and work with others around me. Remote work was entirely new territory for me: I had to learn to start setting boundaries because I found myself checking messages and emails after hours more often than when I was in the office, and I was hopping onto work when I should have been resting or taking some time to enjoy my hobbies. I found it really hard to distance myself from the virtual workspace, but I was also struggling because I felt like I never got to talk to anyone about things other than work anymore. Once I realized all of these things, I started making “coffee break” meetings with members on my team, just to chat about things outside of work. I started setting stricter boundaries for myself, and I have a dedicated office space so that the whole house doesn’t feel like a work zone. It’s been really helpful in staying hopeful and keeping my spirits up while we still work from home.

What do you like best about the company culture at Esri?

I loved how welcoming everyone was when I first started, and how open everyone is. I feel like I have a great support system in my colleagues and in my mentor ever since I started. I always feel like I can be honest and open about how I am feeling with my team. I also love how collaborative everyone is, even though everything has gone virtual for the time being. We’ve been finding ways to stay connected and collaborate together over virtual cups of coffee and lunch hours!

What advice would you give someone who is looking to get into UX design?

Find a mentor, someone who is willing to help teach and guide you through the process of becoming a UX designer. There are a lot of folks who are happy to help and love to be connected to those entering the field. Read lots of books and articles and even start writing some yourself! Just staying engaged and connected with the community is really important. And finally, never give up! Keep applying to jobs and positions—you never know what might happen.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

When I was finishing a UX design course at General Assembly, our teacher told us to start applying right away and keep up our momentum. He said even though we may want to take a break and relax once the course was over, this was the most crucial time to start putting our applications in. I really valued that advice, because I definitely felt like taking a break (especially since my only break between undergrad and General Assembly was a weekend). I started applying to jobs before the course was even finished, and just a few months later, I started working at Esri.