Courtney Yule first came to our attention in 2015 when the product design graduate’s innovative insect cookery kit made headlines across the world. We catch-up with her to discuss life after University and to find out if she’s still on a mission to get people eating more creepy-crawlies.
21 April 2017
You graduated in 2015 from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Product Design. How have the last 24 months been?
They have been both relaxing and very fast paced, if that is possible! At university I was working seven days a week either on part-time work in a supermarket or on University projects, so I didn't have really have a weekend off for about two years, which I think is the same for most students, despite all the partying we reportedly do! So when I got a full time job with weekends off I thought it was great!
I was lucky enough to secure a job before graduation, so I went straight from university into a career as a User Experience Designer, working for Scott Logic which was both intimidating and exciting. It has been a very steep learning curve, working in new areas, within very complicated systems. I am currently working for large multinational clients in areas such as Capital Markets, and have moved from designing physical products to creating digital applications, which is something I had little experience with beforehand. I am constantly learning and developing new skills, and need to be able to understand complex markets and systems quickly, which means the work is never boring, and I will probably never feel like I know enough, but this is something that I find exciting.
I haven't really had the time to look back and reflect properly on my journey so far, but I am very lucky and grateful that I have found a career that I enjoy, through studying a subject at University that I also enjoyed. It's a nice feeling to be able to keep choosing next steps based on my likes and interests, and end up somewhere that I love.
Could you tell us a little bit about your final year project?
My final year project was called the Entopod, a food preparation and experimentation kit that helped introduce people to the concept of entomophagy. Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects as food, and has been proven to have many health, social and environmental benefits. The product consists of different components that help to prepare and share insect based dishes.
Are you still advancing with plans for the insect cookery kit?
Yes, although I have had to put other projects ahead of this recently, I am hoping to build upon an idea within the coming months to do with the Entopod project.
What was your favourite part of studying at Edinburgh Napier?
The variety of projects was probably one of my favourite aspects of the Product Design course, as you were able to apply your skills to a range of different concepts and areas of design. The design industry is very diverse so it was good to be able to test out some of the general areas that you could work in, and explore your own interests within these.
Insect kits, digital product design and more...
What’s your current job role and what does it entail?
I am a UX Designer (User Experience Designer) - We design applications for large multinational clients who predominantly work in the financial sector, mainly within Capital Markets and FinTech. In my short time here I have had a variety of experience; designing FX Trading platforms, Bitcoin Trading platforms, Mobile Banking applications, and explored other FinTech areas such as conversational commerce. We design the UI for these applications, complete user research, and make sure that the user experience is well designed. We work with our in-house developers and other business stakeholders to determine the user stories, specifications, and to build and release bespoke software for our clients.
How big a part did your degree and experience at Edinburgh Napier play in helping you get this role?
The skills learned from Edinburgh Napier in terms of ideation, presentation and design thinking were very valuable in both my application for the UX Designer role, and in my on-going work. I was able to transfer my existing skills across from Product Design, into what is essentially Digital Product Design. The final year module on 'Professional Design Practice' also helped me to consolidate my own understanding of my skills and interests and helped shaped the way I was able to apply for graduate positions.
When your time at Edinburgh Napier came to a close, how did you go about finding a job?
I was applying well in advance of my time coming to a close, as I was aware that many graduate roles have closing dates. However, the main thing I kept in mind was that it was important to apply to as many relevant roles as possible. Any and all experience in terms of interviews, completing application exercises and answering application questions was important to practice. Having a clear goal and keeping track of progress, or even lack of progress is important so you don't get caught up in what can be a daunting and tiring process. I found jobs through job advertisement sites, websites of the specific companies, and also sent speculative applications to companies I was interested in working for.
If you could give a graduate once piece of advice for when University is complete, what would it be and why?
Have a break! You deserve it! Also, have a plan of what you would like to do afterwards. It doesn't have to be detailed, but it's helpful to have something to map against. Even if that plan is 'apply for two jobs a week', you have something to keep you focused.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, just keep going with what you like doing, and it should all work itself out.
Learn more about Courtney's final year project...