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Senior Stories

Senior Spotlight: Vanessa Qin

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?

Growing up in the South Bay, I always felt quite out of place compared to my friends who were aggressively pursuing computer science and had unrealistic GPAs and test scores. When I was applying to colleges, there wasn't a single university or program that stood out enough for me to want to apply early. Then I found out about the Academy and I instantly knew it was the one. Every aspect of the school reflects my values and the way I think.

How have you evolved over the years? Any unexpected twists or turns in your journey?

Surprisingly enough, I never thought I would end up pursuing a career in tech. I always imagined myself as an artist or someone in a much more creative field. When I moved to LA, I actually wanted to make a living out of being an Instagram blogger (lol). That quickly turned into more of a creative outlet than a career path. At the Academy, I jumped into Product Design / UX Design. I love the way designing combines all my interests while also challenging me with unique problems every step of the way. 

What are some of your goals post-graduation?

I hope to work on authentically impactful products with people who push me to be my best self. I'd also like to live somewhere outside of California at least once, even if it's just for a year.

Describe a passion project you're currently working on or interested in?

Currently, I'm working on urspace.io, an instant portfolio website builder for college students pursuing careers in tech (software engineers, product designers, and product managers). We're helping people hone in on their professional identities by alleviating the stress of constantly up keeping the design and development of their digital lives (LinkedIn, Github, Behance, Medium, etc.). This summer we launched a small beta with some of our friends and it's been a really cool learning experience collaborating with awesome people to build a product I wish I had. You can check out my urspace at vanessa.urspace.io!

What inspired the project?

The other co-founders reached out to me last October and I instantly felt a connection. They were tackling a problem I wish I had the solution to throughout my first three years of college, so I felt very connected to what they were doing and went for it!

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?

I'm most inspired by the people around me. I strongly believe that you're an average of the five people you spend the most time with, and I'm lucky enough to have found people throughout college who constantly amaze and inspire me to be better through their curiosity, intelligence, and way of life.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

Just do you.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

First, define your goals. Then, make use of all the resources you have at USC and the nature of being a student to reach them. You'd be amazed by how willing people are to help you reach your goals because you're young and "just want to learn." But remember, no one can help you until you know what you want.

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

I have a secret Instagram dedicated to my "critiques" of delectable meals I've had at nice restaurants and I don't share it with anyone until we've dined together. It's like a photo journal but also the result of hours watching Netflix food shows and also kind of a speakeasy. You'd probably never find it unless we eat at Bestia together (if you have a reservation for Bestia with an extra spot, I'm always down).

What is one thing your parents taught you that you'd like to share?

My parents have always instilled in me that every failure in life is a learning lesson. Whether it's handling a situation poorly or getting scammed by someone on Craigslist, my mom has always helped me frame obstacles as opportunities to learn, which has carried me through some of my roughest moments.

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

Muji pens, Moleskine, and my Swell bottle!

Favorite app or website?

Currently, I've been really enjoying Headspace. Meditating before bed helps me sleep at night. I recently found out that their logo is not a perfect orange circle but is actually a bit jagged and I am just shook.

Fav class at USC and why?

Right now I'm taking a wheel throwing class for pottery.  It's been extremely refreshing being a total beginner at something and learning a new skill that isn't computer-based. The last new skill I learned was how to use a digital design toolkit called Sketch (which I now use daily). I'm finding joy in the frustrations of messing up constantly and diving deep into Youtube tutorials until wheel throwing becomes second nature (like Sketch now is!)

Fav way to de-stress? 

When I make it through a long day and end the night with a face mask, that's how I know I'm really taking care of myself.

Guilty pleasure?

I am maybe a little bit too aggressive about needing to make sure a product will provide a perfect user experience before I buy it. So even when I buy something as simple as an ice cube tray, I will comb through pages and pages of products on Amazon comparing photos and videos and reviews before I go for it.

Thanks, Vanessa!