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Alumni Profile of the Week: John Papenfuss

This week we want to introduce you to John Papenfuss. John graduated in 2017 in the first cohort of UXR students at Boise State – he was the first student to finish a capstone project. Today he is a UX Researcher at Microsoft.

After graduation, my first job was as a teaching intern for a private school. I did not plan this. But the process of breaking into your first UX gig can take a while. Although teaching was unexpected, it was not time wasted. There were several opportunities to put into practice my UX research skills to improve processes and to continue building my skillset through ongoing studies. 

After about 8 months I finally landed a job that put me much closer to the path I wanted to be on: I was hired as a Customer Experience Researcher for, a local Boise start-up that was rapidly growing. I worked for them for about a year and a half before looking for something a little bigger. 

That next bigger thing turned out to be a contract position with Adobe to conduct research on their yet to be released Creative Canvas app, which was designed to allow collaborative interfacing among their flagship apps Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premier.

After my contract ended, I wanted to explore contract work further to see if I’d like the short-term project-based work rather than continuous employment with the same company and industry. In the course of exploring this option, I was hired into another contract role with Microsoft, which is where I’m currently employed. My focus of research in this role has been to improve the internal developer and engineering tools to help create a smooth end-to-end experience across the multiple programs.

Much like UX design process, my career path has been iterative with an eye to quick improvements and rapid adjustments.

If you studied with John, reach out and renew your connection. If you didn’t, get to know him and learn more about his UX journey!