Jamaal Baki

By Zoë Eitel
When Jamaal Baki was looking for a college and a program that would be a perfect fit for him, he chose DePaul’s User Experience Design because, compared to other similar programs he looked at, it had a structured curriculum that appealed to him. Jamaal couldn’t be happier with his decision as he nears graduation.
“I’m taking my capstone right now and the classes I’ve been able to take at DePaul, most people in my field don’t get to take those until grad school,” he says.
Besides having great experiences in the classroom, Jamaal has also gained skills through the internships he’s held and his current part-time role as the user researcher at the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.
Jamaal had his first internship freshman year, which he found through DePaul’s Handshake platform, as a social media analyst and then the following year he spent nine months working as a digital marketing intern for the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago. Though he enjoyed those internships and gained important skills through them, Jamaal was still looking for a position that would use his major more directly.

User Researcher at Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America

BS User Experience Design 2020

When the opportunity arose to apply to be a user experience research intern at Google, he jumped at the chance to apply, even though he didn’t think he’d get it. Jamaal utilized some connections to make sure he had a leg up.
“There were a few people I knew through networking that were already in the company that were able to help me out through referrals to get to the interview stage,” Jamaal says.

“I’m taking my capstone right now and the classes I’ve been able to take at DePaul, most people in my field don’t get to take those until grad school.”

Jamaal landed the internship and spent a summer in San Francisco getting more involved in his field. He was surprised by how much he was actually able to do while he was at Google.
“What was really surprising was the amount of responsibility I was given, and I really wanted to take advantage of that,” Jamaal says. “I thought my ideas might get pushed to the side or I would have to report to someone who would present my ideas, but I was presenting my own ideas.”
He was offered the opportunity to intern at Google again after graduation, which may have led to a full-time position, but decided to pursue an internship as a user researcher at IBM starting in June 2020. It’s his interest in learning about different work environments and experiencing different company cultures that pushed him to IBM instead.
“I want to explore different work environments with different people. I can’t really do that staying at one place,” Jamaal says.
Working with people and learning from them is important to Jamaal. He has a minor in graphic design in part because of his interest in the field and also so, as a user experience researcher, he can understand the designers he will be working with in his career.
Jamaal has appreciated that his internships have given him the ability to work with people from different backgrounds, since most of his classes tend to have students with similar interests. He’s also enjoyed the way his internship work has supplemented the curriculum in his program.
“Everything you learn in the classroom is the right way to do things, but when you’re in the real world, stuff doesn’t always go according to plan, so you need to adjust and overcome the barriers and obstacles, and that’s something you only learn from experience rather than just being in the classroom,” Jamaal says.