Dan Sorvik: Empathy as the Foundation of UX Research

Portrait of Dan Sorvik

Dan Sorvik (BS ‘06, writing studies) is the founder and managing director of UXBridge Consulting, a user experience and eye-tracking research company in Sydney, Australia. But before he became a world-traveler and successful consultant, Sorvik started out the way most of us do: as a curious student searching for their path.

What was one of the defining experiences during your time as a CLA student that you still think about?

"Understanding what one person is trying to say and what the other person is trying to hear" has been a phrase I've used a thousand times. It's the foundation of what I do, and it's rooted in the technical writing courses I took. I'm now well-versed in using compassion as a cornerstone to all of my work. Empathy and emotional intelligence go a long way.

Which CLA faculty person most profoundly changed your view of the world?

My advisor, Barb Horvath, was so enthusiastic and supportive. That kind of encouragement from a faculty member made me feel like I could do anything.

If you could tell your freshman-self something that you know now, what would that be?

You're going to travel the world. It's going to be amazing. But get decent grades first! You'll need this degree to land jobs and open doors.

How do you see yourself continuing to engage with and contribute to the College of Liberal Arts?

As a student, I was lucky enough to score an internship at Usability Services. I stretched that internship to twenty months and it not only taught me a lot, but also helped me build confidence through the work and connections I made there. I stay in touch with the folks at Usability Services and hope to one day take on interns from the department. I also sometimes revisit Goldy's Gameroom for the cheap bowling and cheese curds.

How did your experience in CLA have an influence on your life in ways you didn’t expect?

I made the transition into the workforce easily due to the foundational skills I gained through the various courses and my internship. In the short term, I was very focused on my career opportunities and networking and didn’t really put a big emphasis on my studies. Now sixteen years later I understand and appreciate the value of my degree.

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