May 2021: Koka, Beyond BRIDGEGOOD

A glimpse into Koka Yamamoto's transformative journey from BRIDGEGOOD's UX Design Apprenticeship to Beyond's Design Research Internship

In an exciting and progressive collaboration spanning two years, Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD have been working hand-in-hand to nurture diverse talent within the design industry. BRIDGEGOOD, a nonprofit organization based in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area, is committed to bridging the gap by providing essential access, professional opportunities, and tech literacy to under-resourced students and job seekers of color. 

Their hallmark UX Design Apprenticeship initiative, supported by Beyond, offers tuition-free access, hands-on training, and portfolio-building activities for Bay Area Artists and Designers. As part of this collaboration, Beyond has not only mentored BRIDGEGOOD’s apprentices but also offered internships, providing a stepping stone for emerging designers.

One such success story is Koka Yamamoto, a passionate creative with a Biology degree and a professional background in education, program management, and event coordination at the Oakland Zoo. Koka took a bold leap to pursue her creative aspirations and commenced her journey by enrolling in Graphic Design courses at Chabot College. It was through these courses that she was introduced to BRIDGEGOOD’s transformative UX Design Apprenticeship. This unique program became a catalyst for her progression, connecting her to Beyond and eventually landing her a coveted Design Research Internship.

During her three-month tenure at Beyond, Koka was immersed in a world of design, collaborating with talented teams on various projects. Her primary focus was on a project for Influenster, a product sampling and review platform seeking a user experience transformation. The project demanded comprehensive research to understand current and potential users, laying the foundation for redesign. Koka was instrumental in creating personas and user journeys that will steer the design process forward. Additionally, she participated in diverse short-term engagements, including an ideation workshop for Netflix’s platform on diversity and inclusivity training.

Reflecting on her experience at BRIDGEGOOD, Koka highlighted the fast-paced, enriching 3-month UX Design Apprenticeship that exposed her to a spectrum of new skills and knowledge. From various team roles to mastering the design process, including conducting user interviews, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing, she built a solid foundation. The use of crucial industry tools like Adobe CC, Miro, and Slack became second nature, equipping her for the world of design.

At Beyond, Koka honed her design research skills through real-world client projects, participating in human-centered design processes within a cross-functional environment. She gained expertise in conducting primary and secondary research, synthesizing data into actionable insights, and expanding her toolkit of software skills. Figma, Dovetail, Photoshop, and Loom became essential components of her toolkit, as she grasped the importance of adaptability and creativity in problem-solving.

Looking ahead, Koka is eager to channel the skills acquired from Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD into an entry-level UX Researcher or UX Designer position. Her openness to diverse entry-level positions and industries, coupled with her inclination toward organizations valuing diversity, inclusion, and community engagement, showcases her dedication to making a meaningful impact in the design realm.

The collaboration between Beyond and BRIDGEGOOD stands as a testament to the power of partnerships in championing underrepresented creatives and creating pathways for aspiring designers. 

Koka Yamamoto’s inspiring journey underscores the potential for transformation and growth when opportunity meets talent, emphasizing the importance of initiatives like BRIDGEGOOD’s UX Apprenticeship and industry collaborations in shaping the future of design.

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