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Convocation Feature: Corrina Tang
Corrina Tang graduates this week with a joint major in Interactive Arts & Technology and Business. She transferred in to SIAT in 2017 and, during her time as a student, completed two co-op internships, one as a digital designer on the marketing team at PayByPhone and a 16-month internship as a UX designer and design researcher at IBM.
Learn more about Corrina's time in SIAT.
It’s hard to believe that this day has finally come—I’m graduating! I first transferred into SIAT in Spring 2017 and I later got into Beedie School of Business. As a joint major student, I had the unique experience of experiencing two worlds that seemed quite different but also had more similarities than people may think.
I completed two co-ops, one as a digital designer at PayByPhone on the marketing team and my infamous, very lengthy 16-month internship as a UX designer and design researcher at IBM. During my time at SFU, I also had the chance to launch TumblerShare, a cup-sharing program on campus which eventually went on to win Simon Fraser University President’s Award for Leadership in Sustainability 2020.
Through my classes, doing projects, and conversations with peers and professors, I discovered that I have a strong interest for service design. I’m passionate in designing beyond just digital experiences—I want to be able to design in spaces where not just users but also businesses, communities, and the environment is valued and accounted for.
Why did you choose SIAT for your studies?
In high school, I really enjoyed being part of the yearbook team—planning photoshoots, designing layouts, and being able to create and story-tell as a team. When I graduated high school, I considered going into nursing as at the time, it seemed like a more stable career pathway than design. After dabbling in that for a bit, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me.
In the midst of feeling lost and not knowing what to do my mom shared about this program her co-worker’s daughter took—Interactive Arts and Technology. At the time, seeing how I can apply for a joint major in design and business was very interesting and it seemed like a very good fit as it reflected what I enjoyed doing back in high school. I’m not going to lie, I really thought I was going into graphic design at the time but to my surprise it led to even greater things!
Did you have a favourite SIAT course or instructor and if so, why?
I really enjoyed taking IAT 431 Speculative Design with Paul Brokenshire and IAT 333 Interactive Design Methods with professor Ron Wakkary.
In IAT 431, I learned how to be playful in my designs while at the same time being able to deliver a clear message, a critique, in a way that encouraged the audience to stop and think.
In IAT 333, we had the chance to collaborate with a local business. It was a very enjoyable class as Ron Wakkary taught us how to frame a design problem and challenged us on our design process. Ron had a particular way of providing feedback and it usually came in the form of a question. These questions weren’t easy to answer, but having to think hard about how to answer these very intentional questions, led myself and my team to realize what was missing and guided us to the next step. It was in his class that I learned how powerful good critique can be!
I also did a directed study with Ron Wakkary on Design Ethics. We dived deep into different books and topics about design ethics, value-based design, and even into designing for the pluriverse. For the first time in my degree, I didn’t have to create anything and rush towards a deadline—I got to slow down and reflect on what it means to be a designer and what values I wanted to carry when designing. The result of the class led my peers and myself to come up with a manifesto, outlining values that I still apply to my work!
My last semester, I took IAT 438 User Experience Design with Russell Taylor. It was a tough course and even tougher to take remotely. Through this course, I had the chance to collaborate and learn from different designers and although under not the most ideal learning environment, I got very good at storytelling and putting together presentations very quickly!
What was the highlight of your undergraduate career?
I really appreciated being able to pursue two different degrees and spending time exploring the two different campuses—both with its own unique clubs and initiatives. Although I was never one to be involved in clubs, I ended up finding myself being a part of Embark, a sustainability organization on campus, Power to Change (P2C) and UCM, Christian clubs on campus, and I think I even participated in a case study and took photos for a student business event. Thinking back, I appreciated my friends for roping me into these initiatives. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone and it allowed me to explore many different things and meet people in different programs.
A big highlight I would say about my undergraduate career is when a friend asked me to help them launch TumblerShare. I got to lead and design with students from Computer Science, Beedie and SIAT. We launched an app and website and we even got funding the the school and launched our program at the coffee shops on campus right before the pandemic.
Despite the long commutes and many hours spent studying in the library, I had a lot of fun running around campus trying to get prints printed and submitted in time, staying overnight rushing to finish projects so that it was pixel perfect the next day, and grabbing coffee from Tim Horton’s and Pho with friends after a very long day of classes. I’ve made friends who were there to chat about choosing classes, ask for advice, and to celebrate the wins after a great presentation. All in all, the friendships and relationships made were what made my time at SFU memorable!
What did you enjoy most about the SIAT community?
In SIAT, you’re able to cross paths with people with different interests and backgrounds.
I found it so intriguing to meet people in SIAT courses with different degrees and concentrations. I also really appreciate how supportive the SIAT community is. I’ve been able to reach out to SIAT alumni on LinkedIn and ask for advice, and even met up in-person with some of them for coffee drinks. Although we may all be designers, the interest and passion in domain spaces and practices could be completely different. I love learning about their own process, interests, and passions!
What is next on the horizon for you after graduating?
What’s next? I’ve been deliberating all year and questioned if I “deserved” a break. In the society we are in right now, it only felt “right” to graduate and to step quickly into the stability of a full-time job. Currently, I’m choosing what my mind and body needs and that’s a break. I’ll be taking the rest of the year off to truly rest and to travel! I’m hoping that I’ll come out of it with more clarity of what I want and need, energized and inspired. Not gonna lie, it’s a bit scary stepping into this transitioning phase and to not have a plan but as Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty once said “Growth and comfort do not coexist”.
Any advice for incoming students considering SIAT?
It was only until my last couple semesters that I was reminded that university is a place where curiosity and learning should be encouraged. It should be safest place for you to fail and to mess up. I know at times we feel pressured to create our very best work but also recognize that it’s through our failures and explorations that we know what is working and what isn’t. It gives us clarity on how we can improve and how to pivot. Learn to embrace failure and to be okay with failing often.
Be the one to take the first initiative! Personally, it took a lot of courage for me to connect and put in the effort to get to know my peers in my classes. I came to realize that sometimes all it takes to start a friendship is to ask to see what they’re working on, ask for advice, make a compliment, or say hi when you see them on campus. These are people that you will cross paths with again in careers and they are definitely people who we can learn from and lean on beyond university!