Aladrian Goods and Cici Yang were caught in careers they weren't passionate about when they decided to tap into their creative sides. Both Aladrian and Cici enrolled in CareerFoundry’s fully remote UX Design bootcamp in order to kickstart their careers in UX design – and two years later, their careers have taken off! Cici and Aladrian share why they chose CareerFoundry's bootcamp, the differences between a Product Designer vs a Content Designer, and the advantages (and disadvantages!) of freelancing. Plus, hear their advice for UX design bootcampers looking to land their dream design job now.
What were you each up to before learning UX design at CareerFoundry?
Aladrian: I held a few different jobs before enrolling at CareerFoundry! I was a digital communications specialist at Toyota-Lexus, where I worked in their call center answering emails, chats, and social media posts. Prior to that, I worked multiple part-time jobs.
Cici: I was working in the fashion industry in New York City. I worked on the production side, so my day-to-day work included communicating with factories and fulfilling orders. While there, I found myself gravitating to designers’ offices, which piqued my interest in creative work.
Aladrian, you have a background in communications and digital marketing — what made you enroll in a UX design bootcamp to transition your career?
Aladrian: I attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, where I earned my bachelor's degree in Communications. I started my career working in marketing and events in the tech industry. At the time, I thought designers had to code, which I didn't like. However, I knew I enjoyed working with people, creating experiences, and understanding why people use certain products. About four years later, I was living in Texas, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was working jobs I wasn't passionate about and was likely overqualified for. I ended up taking a career quiz, which recommended that I become a UX designer. Finding UX design helped me realize I can be on the other side of the product without having to know how to code.
With so many UX design bootcamps available, what made you choose CareerFoundry?
Cici: The main thing that attracted me to CareerFoundry was that they were an online-only school. I needed the flexibility of a remote bootcamp because I was still working full-time and did not have time to attend an in-person class. Some bootcamps only offer full-time options, and I didn't want to risk quitting my job. Also, I was able to pay my tuition monthly, which took a heavy burden off my shoulders.
Aladrian: I agree with everything Cici said! I'll add that the people I interacted with during the admissions process set CareerFoundry apart from other bootcamps. I never felt that they were overly selling the program. Instead, they were actively engaged and interested in what I wanted to accomplish through the program. CareerFoundry's incoming student experience made a difference for me.
Aladrian, what was the online learning experience like for you?
Aladrian: I was working full-time when I started the UX Design bootcamp. I worked during the day and completed class at night. I am more of an in-person classroom learner, so I struggled as I wasn't used to not having external pressures to engage in class. CareerFoundry provides students with both a mentor and tutor, which helped me. I met with my mentor, who helped me formulate a plan to stay on track. This plan included engaging those in my personal life to be involved in my UX bootcamp journey. I created a shared calendar so those in my life could see what my plan was for the week and could hold me accountable.
Cici, what was your cohort like at CareerFoundry? How did you interact?
Cici: My cohort was very diverse! CareerFoundry classes are all offered online, which means people around the world participate in the bootcamps. Generally, we use Slack channels to communicate, and it is a great way to keep in touch, give and receive feedback, and ask questions of classmates and instructors. I felt very engaged and connected with others in my cohort. My mentor and tutor were also very encouraging. When I made mistakes or struggled, they continuously encouraged me and pushed me to be my best self and move forward. That mentorship aspect is really important for new UX designers.
Cici, how did CareerFoundry prepare you for the job hunt?
Cici: We were engaged in the job preparation course halfway through the course. In this class, you learn how to develop your elevator pitch, tailor your resume and portfolio, and how to engage with recruiters. You can also schedule a meeting with a career specialist to ask questions and discuss job search strategies. I reached out to my career mentor about job postings to discern if I was qualified, and they assisted me with the application process. You do not feel alone in the job search journey, which can be a terrifying process.
Aladrian, what is your advice for recently graduated UX design bootcampers looking for their first UX job?
Aladrian: Here are my recommendations:
Aladrian, you're currently a Content Designer at Intuit! What type of design projects are you working on?
Aladrian: While my official title is Content Designer, I joined as a hybrid product and content designer. I recently worked on a collaboration tool for our professional tax products. When you're working with a tax preparer, they typically need various tax documents from you. This year we focused on enhancing that experience to make it easier for tax preparers to request documents from multiple clients at once. We also improved the taxpayer experience by allowing them to bulk upload documents. I assisted in redesigning the experience, including animating and automating the process for tax preparers and payers.
Aladrian, how has your career evolved since you graduated from the CareerFoundry bootcamp in 2019?
Aladrian: After graduating from my UX Design bootcamp in March 2019, I continued to work at Toyota-Lexus for a few months while applying to design jobs. I worked with my career coach to create an aggressive job strategy. This wasn't an easy process, and I had to have thick skin to deal with both rejections and being ignored by companies. I continued to network through meet-ups and wrote about my experience. I eventually came across my current role at Intuit. I wasn't familiar with a Content Designer's role before applying, but I felt like the role was written for me after reading the job description!
Cici, you're now a product designer at A Place for Mom – what kind of projects are you working on?
Cici: A Place for Mom's mission is to help senior citizens find community and care. I am primarily working on redesigning their website. When I joined, they were interested in bringing someone on to make their older website more user-friendly. They also were interested in targeting the website towards millennials, who are now helping their parents and grandparents find senior communities. I'm building different pages to match up with our organizational goals and increase our revenue. The biggest challenge is balancing building a user-friendly website and the business goals.
Cici, after graduating from CareerFoundry, you worked as a freelance UX designer. What are the pros and cons of doing freelance work right after a UX design bootcamp?
Cici: Similarly to Aladrian, I didn't find a job right away after graduating, so I had to hustle! I quit my fashion job to fully commit to my UX design career and I used freelancing to get my foot in the door in the industry.
The pros of freelancing after graduation are:
The cons of freelancing are:
What are the differences between a Product Designer and Content Designer?
Cici: A Product Designer is primarily a full stack designer. You need to be familiar with every aspect of UX design. When companies hire a product designer, they typically want someone who can quickly adapt to a project, regardless of its design stages.
Aladrian: I agree! A product designer is more of a holistic designer and can maneuver through all aspects of the design process. You can specialize in one area of design, but you are competent in all the phases. A Content Designer is involved in the design process, but their focus is primarily (but not exclusively) on words and language that make the experience easier to understand for users.
Are you both still using everything you learned at the bootcamp or have you had to learn on the job?
Aladrian: Yes and no! I am currently a UX tutor for CareerFoundry, and this has been a great opportunity to both refresh and refine my skills. I still use the fundamentals I learned in my UX bootcamp in my job today. However, things also change pretty fast! For instance, we no longer use Sketch or InVision anymore at Intuit, which we used primarily in the bootcamp. That said, CareerFoundry is good at updating their content to match today’s trends in design.
Cici: The foundational skills are essential. I still go back to CareerFoundry to learn and hone my skills. On the tools, I have switched over to Figma from Sketch. Design tools are similar, so once you know one tool, it's easy to pick up another. I don't think I've run into any significant challenges where I've needed to learn many new things on the job.
Since you've been working in the UX field for at least two years now, have your salaries increased over time?
Aladrian: I experienced a significant salary increase between my previous job and my current job at Intuit. Due to all that happened in 2020, we didn’t receive merit salary increases. However, I'm actually up for a promotion this year!
Cici: I also saw a big jump in salary from my previous job to my current role. With this salary increase, I have been able to move into my own apartment with no roommates! The UX field has a continuous learning culture, so I try to improve my skills with the hopes of becoming a senior designer, which makes more money.
When applying for UX design jobs, what kind of reaction have you gotten from hiring managers when you tell them you're a career changer and you graduated from CareerFoundry’s UX Design bootcamp?
Aladrian: I have received mixed reactions. Some interviewers would be eager to speak with me based on my academic background and the companies I previously worked for. However, when I mentioned attending a bootcamp and switching careers, they would share that they wanted someone with more experience. On the other hand, when I met the hiring manager at Intuit, she was excited that I enrolled at a bootcamp while working a full-time job. I was able to speak on various design projects I completed and skills I acquired through CareerFoundry.
Cici, what has been the biggest challenge in your journey to learn to code?
Cici: The beginning of the bootcamp was smooth, and I was able to work through the course material and reach out to my mentor or tutor. It was later in the process when I was job searching, that I became insecure. What if I failed to find a job? Could I afford to switch careers again? Like Aladrian said earlier, networking is key when making a career change. Reach out to your mentor, attend meet-ups, and put yourself out there. Make sure you encourage yourself through the process!
Aladrian, what advice do you have for people making a career change through a UX Design bootcamp like CareerFoundry?
Aladrian: Remember, the bootcamp is not just a means to an end. Completing a bootcamp is just the first step. Be clear on what your goals are and what you want for yourself and your life. Once you're in the job, it shifts everything. And as Cici said, the bootcamp is not just about completing schoolwork. It can be pretty hard physically and mentally, especially the job search process. Be nice to yourself and get your community involved in your UX design journey.
Find out more and read CareerFoundry reviews on Course Report. For similar interviews and panel discussions, check out CareerFoundry’s past and upcoming events. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with CareerFoundry.
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