Fourth year student Gabriele talks about his passion for Interactive Media and User Experience Gabriele Maffoni, student of Interactive Media and User Experience

I’m Gabriele Maffoni, I’m from Italy, I’m 25, and I’m in my fourth year studying Interactive Media Design here at Edinburgh Napier. 

I came here two and a half years ago because I saw the Interactive Media design course and I knew I wanted to be more involved in the digital media aspect of my studies. 

I’ve always been interested in people, how they behave and what they do in their daily lives. One of my former professors suggested I should consider a career involving user experience and I saw that they were teaching it here and so I applied.

The Interactive Media Design course is pretty broad, but its main focus is on how people interact with machines, like HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). What we mainly do is not only study how people interact physically but also how we can make digital tools more enjoyable, so we take into account the user experience and make them really interactive. Not just technically interactive but also psychologically interactive.
Last academic year, I was sent an email by my Programme Leader informing me about an opportunity in research. So, I eventually got the opportunity to be a research assistant and it was really interesting. 

The whole process was really engaging because I really liked it and it gave me a lot of practical experience especially in the field of user experience, which is the one I aim to get into. The experience and skills I learned there are useful now that I’m working for an Italian company called Great Pixel as a UX Designer on an independent basis. The company focuses on usability, user experience and conversion rate.  My role within the company is to focus on user flow, conversion rate. 

I have grown a LOT

From a personal point of view I have grown a LOT. This has been the biggest jump in terms of living independently. This is the first time I would be living on my own for a longer time but more than one month and a half, this is for 3 years. I haven’t just learned practical stuff, like being able to clean, shopping productively and generally looking after myself, but my mind-set has also changed. I’ve always been kind of instinctive but now I am much more understanding and welcoming of new changes. I’ve always been really interested about other cultures but moving abroad also made me understand not just other cultures but also my own.

I was never expecting anyone to be interested in my story

There have been two main highlights for me, the first one was starting the research, especially after coming from a 1-year job as a waiter, I was leaving a job I didn’t really enjoy to working in a field that I want to be in. The other one was when my lecturer asked me to talk about my experiences to her Masters students. I was never expecting anyone to be interested in my stories as I’m still relatively at a junior level but I talked to the students and I really liked it and the students seemed engaged in what I had to say.

From a personal perspective finding out lecturers here aren’t only people who talk to you in a formal setting, they interact with you on a more personal level and make themselves approachable. I really like the relaxed working environment where it seems like the course is a collaboration between the students and the lecturer to ensure the best outcome for everyone. 

My dream job will involve me travelling a lot being a freelance UX designer 

The facilities have improved a lot in the last 2 years, the good thing about the university, is they always try to update their equipment to a high standard. Some of the software they use here are often used in the industry, for example Axure RP which is prototyping software, it is one of the most important software that I used during my internship. The facilities are also great, especially having the library and the computer centre open 24/7, it has saved my life a lot of times!

My dream job will involve me travelling a lot being a freelance UX designer for huge companies. If the stability of contracts can help freelance then it’s what I would love to do. Hopefully, once I reach a certain level I would love to also be a speaker at UX conferences and share my own thoughts and ideas on the subject. Having such credibility to be listened to would be great and hopefully I will be someone who matters in the field.

Just do it! It’s something you won’t regret

Applying for the course? Just do it! It’s something you won’t regret. Not just because they teach you what’s needed in the industry, the independence you get to manage your own time and projects allows you to be more creative.  If you want to be do this course you need to be ready to be curious and passionate about the industry. The Interactive media and UX design industry is evolving so quickly and you need to be progressive with your thought process. We have UX designers, UX copywriters, UX consultants and so many subfields that merge together. The more involved you are, the further you will go in the industry and the more knowledge you will have about subjects which is essential to your own development.

The best thing about Edinburgh Napier is the freedom you're given

The best thing anyone can do is just be prepared to be curious, interested and passionate, but the good thing here is the fact the lecturers are approachable and as long as you’re keen then you will get all the support you need to do well.

The best thing about Edinburgh Napier is the freedom you’re given. Outside of the assessments, you are taught independence and you have to adapt and having that freedom allows your passion to shine through and makes you want to be as involved as possible.

Edinburgh Napier continuer, Chloe Black, recounts her time studying BSc Interactive Media Design and her decision to dive straight into a master’s in Computing, all while overcoming her dyslexia

Edinburgh Napier continuer, Chloe Black
My name is Chloe Black and I studied BSc (Hons) Interactive Media Design at Edinburgh Napier for 4 years. I graduated in July 2020 with a 2:1 but unfortunately, it was during the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in there being no graduation ceremonies. I am hopeful that one day Edinburgh Napier will allow all the students that have missed their graduations to return and have their day.

I’m now enrolled in a one-year full-time master’s in computing at Edinburgh Napier, which I will graduate from in August 2021.

During my time as a student, I worked part-time at weekends in the retail store Next. Working part-time and studying full-time was hard, but I was always able to make it work.

Outside of my work and studies, I live with my family and my two dogs in a small town in the Scottish Borders, I enjoy horse-riding and going ice-skating at Murrayfield ice rink.

Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh Napier University?

Since I live in a small town, I wanted to study in Edinburgh to experience more of the city and meet different people. In a small town, it’s really easy to know everyone so I saw this as an opportunity, and I took it.

What attracted you to studying your courses?

I first heard about the course through emails about courses at Edinburgh Napier. I did some research into the course and where it could take me in the future, this enticed me.

After gaining my HNC in Website Design and Development at Edinburgh College, I applied for two courses at Edinburgh Napier University: Website Design and Development and Interactive Media Design. I was lucky enough to receive offers for both courses and I decided to go down the route of interactive media design.

I was attracted to the career opportunities from gaining this degree and the number of different skills I would gain along the way; I personally really enjoyed the user experience (UX) element of my college course, so I knew this was the route for me.

Then, after doing more research and speaking to lecturers, I decided to apply for the master’s in computing on completion of my undergraduate degree.

What are your highlights of studying at Edinburgh Napier University?

There were many highlights during the four years of my undergraduate course, the biggest highlight from my time was the lecturers. All my lecturers were welcoming and made every module exciting, fun, and engaging.

Another highlight of my time during my undergraduate studies was when we moved up into a new year. It was always a fun first week, especially when I went into my final (4th) year – there was loads of pizza and beer to go round!

Another highlight was graduating. Four years of hard work, sleepless nights and busy weekends studying was finally at an end and I could have a fun summer knowing I had gained my degree with a 2:1 classification.

Did you face any challenges?

During university there weren’t too many challenges that I faced, the university is very accommodating with learning difficulties and will give you the extra help you require.

The biggest challenge facing my postgraduate studies thus far has been the pandemic. It’s challenging working from home, with many distractions going on around you and in the world. Coupled with not having the face-to-face interaction that we would normally get has been difficult. Luckily, I feel as though I have adapted well. It’s showed me what I am capable of achieving anything – especially being dyslexic and relying heavily on face-to-face teaching.

However, during these times it’s been hard for the lecturers as well as the students. The biggest highlight for me has been one lecturer in particular – Dr Emilia Sobolewska. She has made every class and module exciting and fun, which I think has made a great impact, especially during these uncertain times. She’s inspired me to keep going even when I feel like giving up.

Would you recommend your courses to others?

I would recommend both my undergraduate and postgraduate courses to potential students.

Interactive media is all around us and is only going to expand further in the future. This course introduces you to several different technical and soft skills.

All my master’s teachers have been fantastic despite the current situation and have gone above and beyond to help their students that are struggling. As well as this, the MSc Computer Science course offers further opportunities and shows future employers that you’ve made an effort to enhance your skills and keep up to date with trends.

What key skills have you learned from your university experience?

During my time at university, I’ve gained many different skills, but personally, the best skill I’ve worked on is my self-confidence.
I am dyslexic and was treated as though I was just stupid throughout my primary and high school years, I always felt as though I had to work ten times harder than my peers. When I started university, I had imposters syndrome. Four years before I started university, I was completely under the impression that I wouldn’t get accepted, however, here we are.

What advice would you give someone considering studying at Edinburgh Napier?

I would tell them to go for it! Don’t underestimate yourself. I had the best years at Edinburgh Napier University.

What’s next?

I am currently enrolled as a full-time student at Edinburgh Napier on my postgraduate master’s course studying Computer Science. Also, I have recently been offered a job as a trainee lecturer in a college near me to teach computing, I will be delivering Cybersecurity, Networking and Programming.

I have decided to work full-time and to continue with my master's degree, I know it will be hard work and will require a lot of commitment, but I know it’s not impossible and will be so worth it when I complete the course in August.

I believe the lecturer’s I have now and the ones I have in the future will support me if I need extra help along the way! I am super excited about my new adventure.