Growing up, Yuhong “Ellee” Chen didn’t have a clear vision of what career she wanted to pursue when she got older. She once entertained the idea of becoming a teacher, driven by her whimsical fondness for scribbling on chalkboards. Even when she started at Syracuse University in 2014, Chen still didn’t have a definitive career direction. 

“It wasn’t until my summer internship that I stumbled upon a field that sparked a passion I hadn’t anticipated during my earlier years,” said Chen, who earned bachelors’ degrees in information management and technology and marketing management from Syracuse University in 2018. “The journey from uncertain beginnings to finding my fulfillment in UX (user experience) has been both surprising and immensely rewarding.”

Chen now lives in New York City and works as a senior user experience designer at Synchrony, a consumer financial services company that delivers digitally-enabled product suites for a spectrum of industries including digital, health and wellness, retail, telecommunications, home, auto, outdoors, pet and more. 

The company employs more than 18,000 people. In her role, Chen helps shape user experiences in the web servicing space. She crafts intuitive and visually appealing interfaces that enhance the overall user journey while balancing business goals and needs.

“I collaborate closely with cross-functional teams, actively identifying user pain points and implementing strategic solutions to address them,” she said. “I find great satisfaction in the intersection of creativity and functionality, and I am excited about the meaningful impact my work has on improving user interactions within the financial services sector.”

One of her most memorable projects so far was redesigning a page for users to enroll in servicing alerts for their accounts. After initially collaborating with a design leader, she gradually assumed the role of the sole UX designer for the project. 

“This experience provided me with the opportunity to lead and shape the project independently,” Chen said. “The redesign not only showcased my evolving design skills but also underscored the importance of creating a seamless and user-centric experience.”

As a dual student at Syracuse’s School of Information Studies and Whitman School of Management, Chen had envisioned a career that blended creativity and technology. However, it was during her summer internship with Synchrony that she was introduced to the exciting world of UX design. 

“The internship kindled my respect and appreciation for UX designers worldwide, as I came to realize the intricacies involved in crafting a web page,” she said. “Whether it’s the subtle details of typography and button colors or the larger considerations of information architecture and site navigation, I’ve come to understand that every component plays a vital role, each with a thoughtful reason behind it.”

The idea of creating seamless and user-centric digital experiences immediately resonated with Chen, who found the perfect blend of problem-solving, creativity, and technology in UX. Embracing this unexpected path, she immersed herself in learning about user research, interface design and usability. 

“I’ve always found joy in engaging with creative projects and had a natural curiosity about the inner workings of the world,” she said. “However, it was only through hands-on experiences that I fully grasped how powerful that combination can be.”

Looking ahead, Chen hopes to continue evolving as a seasoned UX designer and explore various areas of interest, such as accessibility and user research. She is excited about finding her true passion within the vast realm of UX and making a meaningful difference in those specialized areas. 

Outside of work, she remains connected to Syracuse by serving on the Young Whitman Alumni Council and the International Generation Orange Leadership Council. She also visits the campus a few times a year to participate in recruiting activities and to lead a UX workshop for IT Girls.

“I advise current iSchool students to embrace curiosity and maintain a proactive mindset,” Chen said. “College is an ideal time to explore various facets of your field, so don’t hesitate to take on internships, engage in extracurricular activities, and seek out mentorship opportunities. Finally, build a strong professional network by connecting with classmates, alumni, and industry professionals. These connections can prove crucial as you navigate your career path.”