When COVID-19 left Krystian unemployed, he jumped at the chance to make a career-change into design by enrolling at LearningFuze. Krystian shares his experience with us, including the tools he used to collaborate remotely with his classmates and instructors, what he learned in the LearningFuze UX/UI curriculum, and how he built up his design portfolio to prepare for his job search. LearningFuze is committed to helping graduates land their first design job, and Krystian shines a light on what that support actually looks like.
What inspired you to pursue a career in UI/UX design?
Last year, I received my bachelor’s degree in Communications with a focus on Social Media Management. After graduation, I became a Digital Marketing Assistant for an ecommerce brand, where I was initially in charge of content creation and reaching out to influencers. The company was transitioning to ecommerce and wanted to switch their website from a catalogue to a store. Since it was a small team and we didn't have an in-house web designer, I tried my hand at updating their website into an online store. That was where I fell in love with the concept of web design and where I started learning more about UI/UX. I then spent hours binge-watching YouTube videos of UI/UX designers discussing their roles. I was also taking in as much information as I could reading daily UI/UX articles on Medium. I eventually got to a point where I wanted to apply what I’d learned.
Why did you decide to enroll in LearningFuze's UI/UX bootcamp?
When COVID hit my job, I was already wondering if I should attend a bootcamp. When I lost my job due to COVID-19, it became obvious that attending a bootcamp was the next step for me. I was looking for a playground where I could apply my UI/UX knowledge and bring my dream of becoming a designer come to fruition.
Around the time I was working on the ecommerce project, I started reaching out to UI/UX designers on LinkedIn to get an idea of what their jobs were like on a daily basis. One of the people I reached out to was a UX design bootcamp grad who had become a teaching assistant for LearningFuze's UI/UX bootcamp. Initially, I was excited that LearningFuze was so close to my home, although that ended up mattering less since the bootcamp went remote due to COVID-19. After reaching out to Sam, a current UX/UI instructor, she then put me in touch with TJ Kinion in career services where we discussed the Full Immersion Web Development Program and the UX/UI Design course. After I told him what my goals were, I decided that the part-time UI/UX bootcamp was the route to go.
I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was getting myself into so I attended an Info Session that offered us a thorough overview of what LearningFuze is about and what to expect. They showed us how to sign on through the website and register for class. I left the LearningFuze Info Session assured that I would move forward with it.
Did you have to complete any prework?
LearningFuze gave us resources to review before class. The resources gave us a better understanding of design fundamentals and how they incorporate into the whole UI/UX world.
Before the bootcamp, I took some coding courses from Lynda and SkillShare, but LearningFuze made it clear that while HTML and CSS are good for a designer to know, it's not all that makes a good designer.
How did you pay for the tuition?
LearningFuze offers a few different options for payment: upfront; a loan option through Ascent Funding, and a Retail Installment Contract (RIC). I ended up paying upfront, and since I applied early, I also got a $300 Early Registration Discount, which is available to everyone.
What was a typical day like in LearningFuze’s UI/UX bootcamp?
This is a part-time bootcamp that meets three days a week. The bootcamp is split into two sections, and each section is 12 weeks long. Weekday classes were focused on lectures, with one or two skills-based workshops that we would do as a class. On Saturdays, the first half of the day would be focused on a lecture and the second half would be either workshops that applied relevant, hands-on experience or time to apply what we learned into our Capstone project. The classes were live lectures on Zoom that were recorded for reference.
Since you took this bootcamp remotely, how did you collaborate with your cohort and instructors?
Since we were the first UI/UX cohort, there was instant camaraderie in our cohort. We knew we were all in this together. Tools like Mural and Slack allowed us to do whiteboarding exercises and connect with one another. We had a separate chat of just classmates where we could ask each other questions that we didn't think would be big enough to ask the instructors.
Instructors were always available to help whenever we needed anything. We could contact our instructors and TA via Slack, even if it was a question late at night while we were working on our projects, and often we would get a response right away. It was great that they were always available and ready to help.
Did the LearningFuze teaching style match your learning style?
Definitely. I appreciated that LearningFuze’s teaching approach was hands-on and that they offered thorough explanations. Every topic that they covered included a lecture, a few external resources, plus a 15-min session focused on that topic’s real-world application.
The LearningFuze Instructors and Teaching Assistants are designers with professional experience and teaching experience (like teaching at the Laguna College of Art and Design). The Core UI/UX Design Module is led by Charlene Chand who has worked for Roadtrip Nation, Taco Bell, LCAD, and currently 24/7 TEACH. In the Advanced UI/UX Module, the instructor is Marga Tokar, who is also a Senior User Experience Designer for SAP.
What did you actually learn in the UX/UI bootcamp?
LearningFuze taught us the end-to-end design process, including:
What did you build for your Capstone Design project?
For the Capstone project, we were tasked with building an app utilizing a design solution of our choosing. The assignment spanned between both modules: the first module of the bootcamp was fully focused on research and confirming the base idea for the app; the second module was focused on the design aspects of our project.
Since astrology has gained mainstream interest lately, I chose to build an astrology app that helps individuals navigate their birth charts. For researching and sketching my app, I used GoodNotes. I used Mural for storyboarding and transferring user flows onto a visualization. For the mid-fidelity and high-fidelity designs, I used Figma and was able to create the entire user interaction within the app.
Other students in my cohort chose to build apps that tracked cravings, located farmer’s markets, and facilitated 1:1 meetings with special needs kids. It was cool to see the variety of directions everyone went. At the end of the bootcamp, we each presented our Capstone projects to our cohort, instructors and other LearningFuze staff.
How has LearningFuze prepared you for the job hunt?
The LearningFuze career services team works with us to finalize our portfolios, resumes, and LinkedIn profiles, and a Career Services Specialist works 1:1 with us to help us find a job. LearningFuze offers extra support in the form of review sessions to ensure graduates feel ready to present their portfolio to employers. Since graduating, I am still in weekly contact with my instructor and career mentor who answer my questions about the job search process. I'm in the middle of the portfolio review and have three sessions ahead of me with a TA before I get my final draft in, but I have already received an informal offer to work with a startup, thanks to LearningFuze!
Since graduating, which design roles do you feel qualified to apply for?
I've been looking at Product Designer and Interaction & UI Designer roles. My dream role is a Product Designer that works with an existing product or comes up with a new product to expand a company's reach.
Do you feel more qualified to work remotely in your first UX design job since you graduated from an online bootcamp?
I do feel more qualified to work remotely. For my first design role, I personally would prefer to work onsite to get the hang of it, but thanks to LearningFuze, if that is not a viable option, I am ready to take on a remote role.
What do you wish you had known before enrolling in LearningFuze?
You get what you give in this bootcamp. If you go into the bootcamp expecting LearningFuze to give you everything you need to know and do as little work as possible, then you're probably not going to get as much value out of it. If you go into the bootcamp and you're ready to give 100% and dedicate yourself to becoming the best designer you can be, then the value is there.
So far, what has been the biggest challenge in this journey to make a career change into UX design?
You need experience to get experience. I've come across a few roles that I have the qualifications for, but they're looking for someone who's had real world experience rather than only bootcamp experience. The biggest challenge for me has been communicating that I have the knowledge, passion, drive, dedication, skill, and desire to apply myself.
Was LearningFuze worth it for you?
Absolutely! The LearningFuze staff made the biggest impact on me. There is a wealth of information available online about design, but it is incomparable to LearningFuze’s passion for design and dedication to teaching design.
Enrolling in LearningFuze’s UI/UX Bootcamp solidified what I want to do with my life. Being creative attracted me to social media management, but I’m relieved to find that UI/UX Design honors both the creative and analytical sides of me, while offering a career that is challenging, fun and rewarding. That's a game changer!
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