Dear Tupu friends, as the Holiday Season is just around the corner we also want to celebrate with a wonderful episode of My Tech Journey.
Our guest this month is Tomomi, one of the first Tupu mentees. She has a great story about transitioning to tech and how she used the pandemic to reskill and put everything together for her first tech job.
What is your educational background?
I have a masters in Education and bachelors in sociology.
When did you start thinking transitioning in tech?
I started trying to take some graphic design courses about 7 years ago. I knew I wanted to do something creative (whether it was graphic design, web design or having a crafting business) just wasn't sure what that might look like at the time.
Was it clear for you from the beginning that you want to go for UX/UI?
No, I had no idea what UX was. I heard of so many different tyes of design careers, like graphic design, web design, visual design etc... I needed to explore what each of those careers involved and whether it seemed interesting to me or not in the beginning.
How important is to have artistic skills(know how to match colours and shapes, have ability to paint)?
I don't think it is required. It's great to have a basic graphic design knowledge under your belt, but if you're thinking of doing UX, I think you can start from anywhere.
Which were the first steps you took?
I went online and looked for videos on designers speaking about how to break into the field of design. After watching countless videos, I started hearing some common opinions such as the importance of having a mentor, having people give you feedback on your work and that you don't have to come out of a 4 year college or degree in design to get a design job. I then started with courses and eventually found out about design bootcamps.
Which YouTube channels, books, blogs, online courses you used to learn the basics?
I took courses on Lynda.com (now Linkedin learning) and found myself a bootcamp called Skillcrush. Then afterwards, I took the Google UX design certification course. I watched designers give tips on YouTube (still do), and followed Adobe Live time to time to learn XD skills. Some of the YouTube channels I've watched over the years are Jesse Showalter, the Futur, Satori Graphics, Flux Academy, NNgroup, Mizko, Elize, Howard Pinsky, Mike Locke, AJ&Smart... so many more. I also went to a bunch of meetup groups to listen to conversations between folks in the industry. You never know who you'll meet and what nuggets of info they might talk about.
How long after starting learning about UX/UI have you started doing projects?
As soon as I started taking the Google UX course I started working on concept projects as part of my course work. I had done some minor graphic design projects of my own as practice and some frontend work prior to it.
Which was your first project?
My first project was a concept work on an app that generates gift ideas!
How many projects have you done before starting applying for jobs?
I worked on 3 (concept) case studies for my portfolio and 2 additional websites (freelance) when I was doing frontend development. Then I did two more freelance design work in UX after I finished my certification course.
Are there questions or challenges you can prepare for an UX/UI interview like software developers do?
There are some common questions I kept hearing.
Tell me about yourself is the most common.
The next one is: why do you want to work here?
I would say, make sure you do your research on the company! Find out what their work consists of, what they value, their culture etc. as much info as you can. I also went on LinkedIn to see if they had any recent content. If they were in the news or they had a new product, you can make that a part of your conversation.
- I only did one whiteboard challenge, but this is one that I felt I needed to practice a lot. I referenced a lot of youtube videos for this one and I'm sure this is something you can practice with your mentor. I heard someone say that you can even make it fun by practicing this with friends.
It's good to have someone more experienced than you to give you honest feedback
What was the most challenging in your learning process?
Some courses I took did not have a community and not receiving valid feedback from an experienced designer was hard for me because I wasn't really sure I was doing things the right way. It's good to have someone more experienced than you to give you honest feedback.
How long did it take you from starting learning about UX/UI till your first job?
A little over a year, 14 months til I got an internship.
How many hours per day you've dedicated for learning? Did you have a daily routine?
I tried to work on it almost like a full time job since I was out of work. There were also some weekends I worked on it. It's not recommended! Definitely take breaks. I used time trackers to keep track of how much work I was putting into each week.
Which software did you use for learning and doing projects?
Illustrator, Photoshop, Adobe XD and Figma mainly
How did mentorship help you and how often did you meet with your mentor?
Bea was super encouraging, knowledgeable and was a big part in getting my foot into the door. She gave me advice on what course to take, how to write my resume and whether my LinkedIn was up to par and most of all helped me understand how to craft my portfolio. I think the most amazing thing for me was her giving me a chance to work with her so that I could get some experience working on a design project. Bea and I typically met about once in 2 weeks.
I didn't know what opportunities are out there and how to go about it
What advise would you give your younger self that is playing with the idea of changing careers and getting in UX/UI design?
Don't wait! If I have any regrets at all, it would be that I didn't consider changing my career much earlier than I did just because I didn't know what opportunities are out there and how to go about it. There are so many design communities and resources available today, there is always a way. If it's your heart, you know you love it, look for those resources, it's never too late.