University of Toronto Students’ Testimonials

Last updated April 29, 2023

Sarah Esmail, Chief of Staff, IBM.
Bachelor of Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto

Sarah took MIE344 Ergonomic Design of Information Systems in 2018. This was one of her favorite courses. There she gained hands-on experience with the User Centered Design Process including research methods, discovery of user needs, development of problem statements, and personas. Sarah and her team ideated, iterated the design, and usability tested their solution. The course project serves as a design portfolio piece and provides experience with Design Thinking. The course was a great introduction to UX and what UX is like in industry. Sarah started at IBM as a UX Designer and then advanced to the position of Manager for both Development and Product. Most recently she was promoted to the Chief of Staff in Industry Clouds & Solutions at the CTO Office, at IBM Cloud! 

VIDEO: Sarah Esmail, MIE344, Testimonial May 2022


Carlson Lau, Software Engineer II, Okta. Bachelor of Science, Specialist in Computer Science 

Carlson graduated as a Computer Science Specialist in 2021 and is currently working as a Software Engineer level 2 at Okta. For him, the most valuable lessons from this course were in the area of product design. He learned how to predict and evaluate how users will really interact with his products and applications. These skills help Carlson avoid blind spots and edge cases, that he might otherwise miss in the software he develops. He feels that the course is useful in industry for improving existing applications or building new proofs of concept. 

VIDEO: Carlson Lau, CSC318 Testimonial, Sept 2021 


Selina Huo, Product Manager, Uken Games. Bachelor of Science, Cognitive Science & Statistics

Selina studied CSC318 in the fall of 2019. She graduated with a Double Major in Cognitive Science and Statistics. Currently, a Product Manager at Uken Games, she also held internship positions at TikTok and DiDi, the Uber of China. Selina found, CSC318 to be the most practical course at UofT for Product Design, UX/UI, or UX Research. She suggests that students can use everything they do in this course for their portfolios and job interviews. “This is not a bird course,” she warns. Just like in real industry, in this course, there is not a single correct answer nor a template for the assignments. You have to work hard to discover the correct solution, just like in real world. This course is a great practice for that.

VIDEO: Selina Huo, CSC318 Testimonial, May 2022


John Kelly, Developer, University of Toronto, Victoria University. Bachelor of Science, Computer Science & Cognitive Science

In addition to working as a developer at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College, John Kelly used his CSC318 2018 Project and Prototype to launch a startup in the healthcare technology space. His company later hired another student from a different CSC318 class. Their startup has been accepted to several incubators for further development of their product.

VIDEO: John Kelly, CSC318 Class of 2018, Testimonial Apr 2020


Nicole Tang, Product Designer, Wealthsimple. Masters of Information Science

Nicole Tang works as a Product Designer at Wealthsimple an innovative financial company. Nicole took CSC318 2019 and enjoyed the User Experience design, prototyping, and pitching to industry experts in that class. She learned a lot of UX techniques which she later applied in her workplace, with great success. She highly recommends this course for those interested in pursuing UX Design in industry or graduate studies.

VIDEO: Nicole Tang, CSC318 Class of 2019, Testimonial May 2020


Kyle Osborne, User Experience Researcher, CIBC. Bachelor of Psychology 

Kyle Osborne is working as a User Experience Researcher at CIBC’s Business Banking team.  Kyle was a psychology major from UTSC when he took CSC318 in the winter of 2019. Kyle benefitted from working in interdisciplinary teams, which is a requirement of CSC318 and is very important in industry. The course helps Kyle develop marketable skills. Upon graduation, Kyle joined a startup as their first UX Researcher. 

VIDEO: Kyle Osborne, CSC318 Class of 2019, Testimonial Sept 2021 


Laila Tawfik, Student in Computer Science & Statistics, University of Toronto Scarborough

Laila took CSCC10 in the Summer 2020. She enjoyed learning the UX methods and was able to apply them during her interview for a software development internship at BMO and in a design competition among the interns at BMO. When asked about the course, Laila remembered this course as being delivered in-person. This reinforces the effectiveness of this remote course to engage and connect the students and faculty very closely throughout the course activities and project work. 

VIDEO: Laila Tawfik, CSCC10 Testimonial May 2022


Ryan Wong, Student in Communication, Culture, and Information Technology, University of Toronto in Mississauga

Ryan joined CSC318 in the summer of 2020 as an online course. Despite the challenges of online learning, Ryan experienced effective use of real-time online communication tools in the class. Ryan learned how to ask focused questions and conduct effective interviews. His team advanced to the finals of the Student Design Competition and presented their course project to design experts from IBM. This experience and the skills acquired in the course helped Ryan secure an internship position of a Technical writer at IBM. 

VIDEO: Ryan Wong, CSC318, Testimonial May 2022


Alan Zhao, Student in Computer Science, University of Toronto, St. George.

Alan attended CSC318 in the fall of 2021. Despite the remote format of the class, the experience was very engaging and interactive. He found CSC318 to be the one of the most interesting and useful courses in his University of Toronto Computer Science Specialist programme, where he is studying towards a career in Software Development. The course exercised students’ creativity and critical thinking skills. The UI/UX iterative design process, UI design principals, and Usability Testing skills taught in this course are most valuable in both school and work environments. 

VIDEO: Alan Zhao, CSC318, Testimonial May 2022 


The following students participated in the Summer Abroad in Berlin course
CSC396 Designing Systems for Real-World Problems


Amanda Leiva, Student in Masters of Science, Information Science, University of Toronto’s iSchool. Bachelor of Science, Linguistics & Psychology 

Amanda took the Summer abroad course CSC396. In that class, she enjoyed conducting research & usability testing. She used information from the course to gain internship positions at TD and Lyft. Then later, she was able to apply those same skills in the workplace. Currently, Amanda is pursuing a Master’s in Information Science, User Experience Concentration at the University of Toronto’s iSchool.

VIDEO: Amanda Leiva, CSC396 Testimonial, Sept 2021 


Brandon Cormier, Post Graduate Studies: Law School UBC. Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, University of Toronto

Brandon took CSC396 in the summer of 2019, and found it to be a highlight of his undergraduate degree. He found the course to provide hands-on experience in UX not available in any other class at U of T. Brandon worked as a Project Manager in a small software company where he learned to appreciate team leadership and that multidisciplinary teams can be much more than the sum of their parts. During the summer course in Berlin, Brandon was able to enjoy exploring the city and weekend travels in surrounding areas. After completing his Computer Science degree at the University of Toronto, Brandon continued on to study Law at the University of British Columbia.  

VIDEO: Brandon Cormier, CSC396, Testimonial Dec 2022


Kelley Tai, Senior Consultant, IBM.
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science & Linguistics, University of Toronto

Kelley enjoyed CSC396 in Berlin in the summer of 2016. She found the course to be one of the best experiences in her whole life. She felt that concepts learned in the course can be broadly applicable to different fields, as well as to Computer Science. She appreciated the new perspectives developed by visiting a new country. Kelley still uses some of the course ideas in her work as a Senior Consultant and Product Owner at IBM. 

VIDEO: Kelley Tai, CSC396, Testimonial Dec 2022

Ryan Marten, Siebel Scholar ’23, Research Intern @ Allen Institute for AI (AI2), Master of Science MSc @ UIUC, Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, University of Toronto

Ryan took Summer abroad course CSC396 in 2019. He learned a lot in the course and enjoyed his time exploring Berlin. Later Ryan continued to explore his interests in Artificial Intellegence through a series of research internship positions. Ryan is pursuing the Masters of Science in Computer Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2021-2023. 

VIDEO: Ryan Marten, CSC396, Testimonial Dec 2022

Ziyang Jiang, Web Developer, Moneris, Bachelor of Science, Computer Science & Statistics, University of Toronto

Ziyang took CSC396 in Berlin in 2016. She found this to be the best class in her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. She uses insights from the course to this day in her role as a Web Developer at Moneris for 6+ years. Ziyang volunteered at the organization for Computer Human Interaction’s Toronto chapter. Most recently, Ziyang became a mother to a beautiful baby!

VIDEO: Ziyang Jiang, CSC396, Testimonial Jan 2023