Patricia Swesey’s unexpected journey from JMS to Intuit
Content architect at Intuit may not be the first job that comes to mind when you think of JMS alumni, yet that is exactly what Patricia Swesey (‘11) became. Her current job is focused on generative artificial intelligence experiences. When asked about how she feels about working with AI, she said that it feels as if she is “learning how to dance with a robot.”
But she didn't always dance with robots.
When Swesey graduated from SDSU, she started down a more traditional path, starting as an intern for The La Jolla Light and later becoming the managing editor for Pacific San Diego Magazine.
She then transitioned to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which seemed like a perfect fit given Swesey's minor in studio art. However, not all good things are meant to last.
“The art museum laid me off,” Swesey recalled, “which broke my heart because I was going to be a lifer there.”
After this setback, she decided to pivot toward a career in technology. Swesey described this move as a form of revenge.
“It was like I had broken up with by my highschool boyfriend. I was like ‘I’ll show him’ and so I got a job in biotech,” Swesey shared with a laugh.
Swesey worked at Invetech before a recruiter from Intuit reached out to her. Equipped with her knowledge of user experience design, she confidently assumed her initial role at Intuit as a product content designer.
Swesey then worked her way up to a management position where she was overseeing a team of content designers. Two years later, after GenAI came along, Swesey transitioned into her current role as the Principal Content Architect for Intuit Design Systems. Focused on AI experiences, she aims to identify emerging job opportunities arising from GenAI and shape the landscape of content design 2.0.
Swesey is enthusiastic about conveying to JMS students that there is a place for them in the tech industry, emphasizing the transferability of skills learned in JMS to tech careers. For instance, she highlighted how JMS students are taught to write for a specific audience and understand how to strategically employ voice and tone.
Although Swesey no longer works in the journalism industry, she reminisced about her time as a JMS student. She recalled her last two years as her favorite as she enjoyed being able to focus on her major.
One of her favorite classes taught her to make a website and she got to choose an entity to write stories about. Swesey chose the medical examiner’s office.
Swesey laughed about her choice and said, “It's just as fun as you make it.”
She also recalled a project from a sound class where she visited Mission Bay to capture photos and audio.
“I’m on a boat taking pictures of kids paddling. It was just really beautiful and I was super proud of what I came out with,” she said.
“Those experiences of times when you're really proud of something you created and you're telling a story to people that might not have been seen otherwise. I really enjoyed that.”
Swesey never expected her time at SDSU to lead her into her current industry, but her story is proof that anything can happen. Even dancing with robots.