For nearly a decade, Jeanette Au has been working in banking as an analyst, but when her job started to feel stagnant, she looked to tech to find a more fulfilling career path. Excited by the creativity and problem-solving found in the UX Design career, Jeanette enrolled in the part-time, online UX Design bootcamp at BrainStation to reskill while still working her full-time job at the bank. Jeanette breaks down how BrainStation has helped make her new tech career goals possible through their unparalleled career services and tight-knit community. Find out Jeanette’s tips for future bootcampers juggling working full-time while completing a part-time bootcamp in their free time.
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What inspired you to learn UX design skills this year?
After finishing college, I got a job at a bank. I love investigating and solving problems, so I pivoted to the anti-money laundering team at my bank. After three years in this role, the tasks were becoming repetitive and I felt stagnant. I took some intro tech classes to find something else I was interested in. I took some Python, SQL, and data classes, but I felt myself more aligned with UX design. I decided to take a leap of faith and transition my career from being an analyst to being an UX designer.
There are so many UX design bootcamps now – why did you choose BrainStation?
I read so many positive reviews of other students who loved attending BrainStation! When I actually went through the bootcamp, I found that BrainStation provided phenomenal assistance — not just academically from our instructors, TAs, and education team, but career support even after graduating. They ensured we were connecting with people in the industry and on track to jumpstart our new career.
What was the BrainStation application process like for you?
BrainStation doesn't require any previous design experience to attend their UX Design bootcamp, so the application process was pretty easy. After I emailed them that I was interested, I quickly received a response from the admissions team. I was assigned a mini-challenge of designing a menu. I submitted what I would do and that was it! They had no expectations of me going in, which was a relief to me.
How did you make the bootcamp tuition work for you?
BrainStation offered me a Women in Technology Scholarship, which I was really grateful for.
What was a typical week like in BrainStation’s part-time UX Design Bootcamp?
Since most bootcampers taking this part-time course were also working, a typical week included attending class online after work hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. In each class, our instructor presented a slideshow explaining new concepts and then we got time to try out what we learned with templates.
How many hours a week were you dedicating to the bootcamp?
Including class time, additional lessons from TAs, and time for our assignments, I’d say I put in around 20 hours a week. How much time you dedicate to the bootcamp each week definitely depends on how much time you want to put into your projects.
Did you feel you could juggle this bootcamp while working full-time?
I definitely struggled getting used to the demands of both working full-time and attending a part-time bootcamp. Weekends were dedicated to working on assignments, after working all week and going to class in the evenings. It took some time to get used to the schedule, but it was definitely doable. Plus, we had a support system in our peers, instructors, and TAs who were easily accessible and eager to help if we needed anything.
Who were your instructors? Did their teaching style match how you learn?
Our instructors at BrainStation are experienced in the industry. I was amazed at how skilled, knowledgeable, and resourceful they all were. They gave great insight into the real world of UX design.
What did you actually learn in the UX Design Bootcamp?
We learned about the fundamental principles that build the foundations of UX Design and how it is an ever-changing and improving environment. Furthermore, we were provided with many additional resources and taught how to use different tools. My favorite was learning how to use Figma, which is a very important and key tool to the design process, because it enables users to play with different concepts, share with each other, and essentially allows the team to work together on projects easily.
What was the community like at BrainStation?
I love my cohort! Working with them was such a pleasure as everyone generously shared resources and gave each other helpful and useful feedback. Certainly, the instructor also instilled in our minds that there's always room to improve our assignments and how vital getting feedback from others helps make our design product even better. The instructors and my classmates really provided a sense of community that is forever lasting, and I absolutely appreciate all the guidance and support I received from them throughout the bootcamp journey.
What kinds of projects did you work on at BrainStation? Was there a capstone project?
My favorite projects were the team projects. We had team design sprints where we worked on a project for about a week or two. We would brainstorm ideas and work together to decide what we wanted to do. Then we split up to do our role for the project and bring it all together at the end. For one of our projects, we designed a charity webpage. We collaborated well together and I was really satisfied with our end result when we presented it.
Our capstone was a solo project that we worked on for the entirety of the bootcamp. It was something to showcase what we learned, while incorporating our other passions or background. For me, I had worked as a pharmacist assistant before, so my capstone project was related to creating an app that reminded users to take their medication and help ease them with the stress of refilling their medications.
Did you present your final project in a virtual demo day?
We presented our capstone project for a demo day. We didn't have a lot of time to present, but I was told that’s how it goes in the industry, so it was really good training.
What kinds of career services did BrainStation offer you?
The career support at BrainStation is fabulous. Near the end of the course, they held classes on resume building, how to prepare for interviews and what to talk about, and how to look for jobs. Their assistance was so helpful. They reached out after the bootcamp and offered us a progress report to fill in to help us stay on track. The support I received from career services helped me remember what I need to keep me going.
Which tech roles do you feel qualified to apply for since graduating from BrainStation?
UX Design is a very broad industry with a variety of roles, and thanks to BrainStation, I feel prepared and qualified to tackle them all. I am particularly interested in the UX Designer and UX Research roles.
You work at CIBC (where you’ve worked for the past 9 years!) as a Senior Analyst — Are you able to use your new design skills on the job?
My analyst role at the bank and UX design are really two separate worlds. Working at the bank is more analytical, where I am analyzing and reviewing numbers. But after taking the bootcamp, I'm noticing more of the aesthetics in my analyst role. When I'm working with different applications on my bank, I'm now seeing how they could be optimized to be more efficient for users, which feels like I’m now in a UX designer headspace.
What are your career goals now with this UX design skill set?
I'm ready to venture into something different. I'm interested in building my UX design foundation at a startup company, which requires more learning and adapting to new challenges. That’s what I really enjoy.
Looking back on this experience, was BrainStation worth it for you?
Absolutely. I learned so much and met so many amazing people! I've built new, life-long friendships and connections from BrainStation. I definitely feel like I am a UX designer now and I'm ready to start a new career journey!
What do you wish you knew before enrolling in BrainStation? Any words of advice for incoming bootcamp students?
If you're going to take the bootcamp, dedicate intentional time and take it seriously. If you are really passionate about it, doing your own research on top of the time you spend in class will make you a better UX designer.
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