Senior Spotlight: Annie Oh

Women smiling under multi-colored spotlight

September 14, 2020

Aside from button-mashing her way to the next boss, senior Annie Oh is up to a lot these days. The gamer and designer co-founded Playbook VR with Stephanie Ng, a platform that gives users a streamlined workflow to create VR experiences from scratch. The duo won the 2020 IYA "Iovine and Young Prize" for Playbook VR’s ease-of-use and accessibility.

Tell me a little bit about your journey to IYA? What were you looking for in an undergrad program?

In high school I was into art, tech and STEM. It was a weird combination of interests and I was unsure of how to apply them. I did some research to figure out what my career could look like and grew invested in UI/UX + product design. Eventually, I found IYA and was pleasantly surprised to find a curriculum that touched all of my interests.

How have you evolved over the past four years?

I'm still a reluctant workaholic and have a hard time saying no to good opportunities. The difference now is I know what makes an opportunity a good one and can discern what will push me forward in the right direction. If you're going to fill your schedule and be busy, make sure you're busy with the right projects.

A collection of students crowd together and pose

Describe an IYA moment that you’ll never forget.

I'll never forget project presentation days here at IYA. Up until the due date there's always widespread panic and chaos...but somehow everyone ends up delivering an extremely polished and exciting pitch. I'm always impressed by what my cohort is able to pull off under pressure.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

Easier said than done, but don't be swept up by hustle culture and the achievements of your peers. Don't let other people live in your mind rent-free and focus on yourself. Have a healthy work/life balance and always remember that having fun is not a waste of time.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?

I play a lot of video games. In quarantine, I've been playing Monster Hunter, League of Legends, MapleStory, Smash, Fire Emblem, and the Pokemon DLC. It's not really a secret but I had a hard time bringing it up to friends early on because I thought it made me look unfocused. Now it's evolved into an interest in the gaming industry and it’s a part of myself that I'm proud of and thankful for.

Two people hold up a jumbo-sized novelty check while taking a selfie
VR goggle prototype

Annie Oh and Steph Ng won the IY Development Prize in 2018. Second Image: VR goggle prototype designed by Annie Oh.

What’s the one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?

Give yourself more credit. I struggle a lot with imposter syndrome and my parents have always reminded me of the time and effort I've put into my craft.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect. - Penn & Teller

What goals do you have post-graduation?

Everything is tentative but I'd either like to work at an early-mid stage company or continue with my Garage Experience/thesis project.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working on and how you came up with the idea for it?

A passion project I'm working on right now is Playbook VR, an interface design tool for VR. It's also my Garage Experience project and an IYA Prize venture I'm co-leading with Steph Ng. We both had experience building VR products and were deeply unsatisfied with the high-friction interface design process. This year we'll be working on bringing an MVP of the tool to market.


What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Laptop, notebook

Favorite app or website?

Favorite class at USC and why?
Founder's Dilemma. The curriculum helps you navigate early startup decisions and pitfalls using Harvard Business School cases and is focused on the people problems of startups.

Favorite way to de-stress?

Guilty pleasure?

Thanks, Annie!

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