It’s All About the Experience
Long before Randolph Duke II (B.S. ’11) became a user experience (UX) researcher for Facebook, he was a New York Tech student in New York City, where he ran to catch the Metro-North train from Grand Central Terminal and burned the midnight oil completing projects with his classmates.
Today, Duke is part of Facebook’s diverse and collaborative team of UX researchers who work with product design teams to create the best platform for Facebook’s billion-plus users. He is well-versed in accessibility, innovation, design-thinking, and emerging technologies and considers himself an inclusive researcher and designer who enjoys remaining at the forefront of emerging computer sciences and engineering trends.
“One of the most challenging parts about a career within the computer sciences and tech overall is that your technical skills have a shelf life. In order to succeed you not only have to prove that you are proficient with the current stack of technologies and tools, but you have to truly be a lifelong learner,” says Duke.
On September 10, he will join Shreya Bendre (B.F.A ’19) in speaking to incoming students at New Student Academic Convocation. He sat down with The Box ahead of the event to discuss how his New York Tech experience helped to prepare him for his career, as well as his advice for current students.
Why did you choose New York Tech?
I was looking for an urban university where the energy from the neighborhood would attract people also looking to be a part of the experience. I loved the diversity of the programs and students I met during my first visit and knew I had to go to the Manhattan campus.
Was this always your original career path?
I originally chose telecommunications network management, as I was very interested in cellular network infrastructure. However, I found myself really enjoying the electronics courses before switching majors to electrical and computer engineering technology. I liked being able to use my creativity to design circuits and programs.
What are some of your fondest memories of New York Tech?
Working late into the night with my classmates on some electronics labs before running to catch my last train home at Grand Central! I had to focus on setting up equipment to get proper measurements and working efficiently with my classmates. It helped me to become better at managing my time and paying attention to details, knowing that if I did it wrong, it would cost me a late trip home.
What was your first job after graduation?
I did retail technology sales and training. It was a great bridge for me to experience first-hand the role technology plays in enabling people to do more. Each day I would meet new people to sell, teach, and learn all the ways consumer technologies were helping people.
Describe the experience of leaving college and joining the “real world.”
Leaving college was a bit more anti-climactic than I thought it would be. I had already been working while I was studying and kept the job I had right before my last semester, so I didn’t feel as much of a change immediately. I think the part about the “real world” that I wasn’t ready to experience was missing seeing all the friends and staff from New York Tech that I had grown close to.
Tell us about your design strategy.
My design strategy is ever-evolving. It will always need to end with identifying and solving a problem. Even though every project is different, I always work better when I remind myself that whatever I am doing is in service to a problem a person is facing. Prioritizing effectiveness usually requires a lot of creativity to turn something really complex into something simple.
Out of all the UX projects you’ve had the opportunity to work on, which one has been your favorite and why?
I can’t choose! I know that is a terrible answer, but each user experience project has something that I always take with me to the next one. I guess if forced to choose, I would say my favorite is whatever my next project might be because I know that I am going to learn something new and help improve someone else’s life.