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An Inside Look at ProQuest: User Interface Developer Cathy Chow
What’s it really like to work at one of the world’s leading educational technology companies? ProQuest asked a few of our colleagues about how they got here, what they do, and what makes this such a unique place to work.
Today, we interviewed Cathy Chow, who – in addition to being an animal lover, former English teacher, cyclist and aspiring philanthropist, comes to ProQuest each day wearing her User Interface Developer hat.
What do you do at ProQuest?
Cathy Chow: I’m a User Interface Developer for Dialog Solutions’ Drug Safety Triager.
Why is the work you do so important to researchers?
My work is important because our users' work is important. The pharmaceutical companies that we serve make advances in medical technology and need to review scientific literature regularly to monitor the impact their advances have on patient safety. Our product streamlines the literature review process so they can do this important work more easily. Because of their use of our product to comply with federal regulations, patients ultimately have more trust in the medical technology that is in the market right now.
How have pharmaceutical companies benefitted from your work?
Being a User Interface Developer means that I help ease pain points users have when interacting with our application. This can mean I made things easier to read, eliminated workarounds they previously had to do, or made our product more accessible. In the end, our users spend less time – and mental energy – on common tasks because of my work. Being able to help them is really satisfying.
What’s your professional background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in German from the University of Michigan. I taught English in Germany through the Fulbright program and was also a volunteer translator. Language is so fascinating! I found my way to technology and a Master's in Human-Computer Interaction after discovering myself programming in my free time and seeing the potential impact of technology.
What motivated you to get into your current field?
While I was teaching English in Germany, I was using a lot of technology that increased my quality of life: WhatsApp to communicate with new connections as well as loved ones at home that I missed; Quizlet and Duolingo to deepen my fluency in German. At the same time, I had been dipping my feet into programming and was jealous that the people who made these applications were able to help others on such a large scale. I applied to the University of Michigan's School of Information and have been in the technology field since.
What brought you to ProQuest? What’s one thing that surprised you about working here?
A recruiter I was invited on-site to meet people, which let me get an idea of the culture and environment first-hand. As a minority in many aspects, a company's culture is unfortunately something I am sensitive to and something I consider when looking at jobs. I find the culture here to generally be inclusive and full of learners, which is something I'd expect from a global company that serves libraries!
One thing that was surprising was how many animal-lovers there are at ProQuest, which is great because I am the biggest cat person. Pet insurance is an optional benefit here, and the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) is our charity of the month for TWO months, not just one. My favorite thing in the summer is when they bring in actual adoptable animals during the ice cream social. I learned about HSHV's fostering program at the social and ended up fostering (and then adopting) a sweet 12-year-old cat.
What do you like about working here – both the job itself and the rewards/benefits?
I love the work-life balance here. I like going to work and working on interesting problems, but I also very much value my life outside of work, and I appreciate when employers recognize that the people they employ are people and not cogs in the machine. My manager is very flexible, and the PTO package here is above average.
What are your ultimate career aspirations?
I want to be a philanthropist.
What other fun and interesting things do you enjoy doing? Have you found anyone at ProQuest that shares your interest?
These days, I do improv, I like to bike, and I play Pokemon Go. I just like being out and about! ProQuest participates in Ann Arbor's annual Commuter Challenge, so I've met other bike commuters like me.
I also love going to my local library because it's a welcoming place for community and learning. I think most people at ProQuest share that interest! I've run into colleagues at library events before.
Check out our global career opportunities at ProQuest.