This “Meet the Trulian” features Trulia Rentals’ User Experience Researcher, Savanna Valdes. Savanna initially studied computer science before focusing on research, and now says her role is the perfect combination of the two. Read on to learn a bit more about her and how she made the move into research.
What’s your role at Trulia?
I’m a user experience researcher for the Trulia Rentals team. I study the users of our products, observing how they use Trulia and learning more about their needs and motivations. Trulia is very consumer-focused, so I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from design validations to exploratory, foundational research. It makes the job extra fun!
What inspired you to get into your role?
I actually started out studying computer science at Sonoma State University and headed to SF State to pursue a Master’s in computing for life sciences. While I really enjoyed my Intro to Biotech class, something wasn’t quite clicking and I wasn’t enjoying programming the way I did when I initially decided to study computer science. After a minor quarter life crisis and lots of Googling, I found UX. I wanted to stay in tech and I knew I wanted to work with people, and studying users sounded like the perfect combination. So, I switched to experimental psychology to learn more about the field and that’s when I really gained an appreciation for research and its impact. A job where I get to hear people’s stories all day, and then work on products to help them find a new home? Sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me.
What was your dream job growing up and why?
Almost every school year I wanted to be a different type of scientist. In third grade it was an archeologist, fifth a marine biologist, seventh an astronomer. Neither of my parents are in STEM, so I’m not really sure where that passion came from, but I’m hoping my younger self counts computer scientist and psychologist as acceptable ‘ists.’
What’s the one gadget or personal tech item you cannot live without and why?
My iPhone has become a bit of a lifeline, as demonstrated by how lost I get when I’m out and about in SF and don’t have it with me. However, I think my Apple TV is the tech item that really brings the most enjoyment into my life. I love movies and it’s awesome being able to stream pretty much any movie at any time without even having to leave the couch.
What was the last movie you saw or book you read and what – if anything – would you change about the ending?
I recently watched a movie called “Goodnight Mommy.” The trailer for the film was beautiful and haunting and TERRIFYING, so I was really excited to see it. Unfortunately, the movie just wasn’t as good as the trailer and the “mega twist” was pretty obvious halfway through. The ending might have been better had they revealed the twist earlier on and gone in a completely different direction for the second half.
What’s your proudest accomplishment and why?
My proudest accomplishment is graduating college and sticking out grad school until the bitter end. I’m a first generation college student, so I’m not sure I knew exactly what I was in for when I moved away at 17. Many, many thanks to my amazing parents for teaching me that you have to work for what you want and supporting me no matter what direction I decide to take.
If you could master one talent or skill that you don’t have now, what would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to be able to sing well. I’m blown away by the music people can create with their vocal cords and I would totally love that talent. I can’t even whistle – it’s hopeless!
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
My dream scenario would be the ability to eat sugar all day without any negative consequences, primarily cheesecake and cream puffs.
If you could time travel, would you go into the future or past and why?
I actually don’t think I’d like to do either. There’s something really unsettling about the idea of seeing the past or future and then returning to the present. I think it would really mess up my perspective. Or, maybe it would help me focus on what really matters. Who knows.