Reflections on SoCal UX Camp 2016

Yesterday marked the 4th annual SoCal UX Camp, an event attended by more than 400 individuals who are passionate about the field of User Experience. To my knowledge, SCUXC remains the biggest free UX event in Southern California. It’s quite amazing, actually. When events in the UX industry costs thousands of dollars just for a few days of content, we have to wonder if we’re creating higher ladders for those who are trying to enter the field. Perhaps those other conferences are designed intentionally, keeping the beginners out while milking the training budgets from as many companies as they can.

Regardless, there should be something said about people like David Nguyen, Director of UX at Rakuten, who can easily earn a killing running SoCal UX Camp, but commit to creating a fun, free experience for all those who attend. He even personally picks up the tab if the conference runs over budget. Give that man an award.

I first attended SoCal UX Camp back in 2014, when was the beginner in question. I knew so little about the UX industry, my first UX “internship” that summer consisted of no more than sitting around and hanging out with my coworkers, solely because I had no idea what the hell I was doing. As a regular attendee at local meetups, I wanted to attend conferences, but given that I was no longer a college student, the price barrier kept me home. SCUXC was my first UX conference, which made it even sweeter to speak at this year’s event.

Though I have some experience with public speaking, I’ve never given a 45-minute industry lecture before, which made preparing difficult. Normally, I would script all the presentations in school, primarily because I’m an awful ad-libber, but those only ranged from 5-15 minutes. I decided to wing it, a decision I now somewhat regret.

Overall, I think my talk went okay. Given that my entire professional career is built around an industry fixated on iteration, I always believe in improvement. During the middle of the presentation, my brain started to slip up, which made the ad-libbing quite difficult and a little embarrassing as I continuously repeated talking points even in the same sentence. Maybe I’m a little harsh on myself, but I am truly thankful for all the words of encouragement I received following the talk. Thank you to all those that attended!

SCUXC is a tremendously fun and exciting experience. It was great seeing UX friends I haven’t seen in more than a year. Looking forward to next year’s event!

– B. Kim

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