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Written by Johanna Blickenstaff
It's a small world and shrinking. Five continents and numerous countries are now even more accessible thanks to Mark Little.
With the power of his University of Idaho credentials backing him, Little is now happily ensconced in his work as a usability analyst for Oregon-based Con-way, where he seeks to make the world of freight shipping a little more user-friendly.
Little is facing a lot in his first job out of graduate school: assisting in the redesign of an online freight processing system, evaluating proposals for a claims management system and testing a handheld computer for cargo inspectors.
He didn't start out looking to work for a shipping company. He wanted a usability job and knew that if a company was looking to fill a usability position, he was qualified to fill it, wherever it might be.
"At the 2007 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society annual meeting in Baltimore, I interviewed for a job in Kansas City. I realized at that point that I had the knowledge and the skill set to get a good job, and that I could be qualified for a job wherever I wanted to go – basically coast to coast – and that I was ready to start getting paid!"
Little grew up a four-hour drive south of Portland in Roseburg, Oregon. Computers were largely a source of entertainment, giving Little and his two brothers an outlet that they all continue to enjoy in adulthood. After earning his undergraduate degree from Oregon State University, he transitioned into the Human Factors graduate program at the University of Idaho. The program put him in touch with the University's Web team, which was engaged in a much-needed University Web site redesign.
"I knew that it would not only be a great experience, but also a lot of fun. Some of my favorite times were spent eating pizza in between the testing of participants and talking about interesting trends that we saw in the results," he says. "It turned out to be one of the best things I could have done for my career."
Chris Cooney, director of University Web communications, credits Little as a critical part of the success of the institution's new Web site.
"I gained both an appreciation of Mark's knowledge as we shared our observations of the usability testing, and I experienced his commitment to the task at hand and the thoroughness of his approach. I think his experience in Human Factors made a big difference and prepared him for this work," Cooney says. "I knew from that point on, we had made a good choice by adding Mark to the team."
It took only one week from the first phone interview to the initial job offer from Con-way, something that Mark credits almost entirely to his experiences on the University's Web team.
Though he may not have meant to go into transportation, Little says everything about his current position is great. Mark Little's the man behind the mouse click, sending the packages around the world.