Alisa has always been creative. Prior to her job as a Client Service Associate, she was a yoga instructor and ballerina. Now after taking UX/UI Design, Alisa can say she’s a UX Designer at ExxonMobil.
Hear all about her career transition.
What inspired you to learn UX Design?
I have to be honest and say I didn’t know what UX Design was until Thinkful. I originally enrolled thinking I was going to learn Web Design (this is when I told my mom that I was studying to become a Web Designer).
I soon realized that I was greatly mistaken. I thought I’d be learning to design for screens, but it was so much more than that…I was really learning to design for the user.
What was your favorite part of the Thinkful curriculum?
My favorite part was working on my portfolio. I’m very goal oriented! So seeing my projects, branding, and ideas come to life on my own site was truly rewarding and felt amazing.
What’s the most challenging part of Thinkful's curriculum?
Walk me through your favorite project! What was it and what was your process?
My favorite project was Party of Two, an online dating site. I know of about 10 couples that met through online dating, so I know that it works. With it being so popular, I really wanted to find out what users thought would help improve online dating services.
I began by identifying some of the problems I knew of with online dating.One of my solutions was to allow users that had been communicating with each other, to have a quick video chat, before meeting in person. I felt this solution would help users eliminate “fake profiles”, and also save time and money in case their match wasn’t quite what they were expecting.
I conducted a SWOT Analysis on possible competitors, put out a survey, created personas, user stories and flows, wireframes, branding, prototypes and usability tests. My favorite part of this process was reviewing feedback from the survey I’d put out, as I was really interested to learn from users about their successes, what worked for them and what didn’t.
What are you most excited for in your new role?
Can I say every part of it? I’m working for a company and team that both loves and appreciates UX Design. Everyone I work with is highly experienced, and also very supportive in guiding me as I begin to learn and understand the complexity of the project I’m working on.
The campus is also amazing, with modern furnishings, big variety of food vendors to choose from, gourmet nuts, cupcakes, frozen yogurt, coffee shops, an eye doctor, and a salon…it’s like the “Google of Houston”! I’ve got my dream job :)
Did you find that Thinkful offered a good amount of support throughout your program?
Yes! I had Skype sessions with my talented mentor, who lives in Australia. Thinkful also has Slack channels, where I could ask questions and gather feedback on my work. The cool part is, that mentors and students are located all around the world, so online interaction with the community seems to be available almost around the clock.
How was your experience with Thinkful's Career Services?
The Career Services team was very supportive and extremely helpful throughout the course. In addition to learning what I needed to do through their detailed job preparation checkpoints, the career services team readily offered valuable advice whenever I needed it through emails, private messaging, and their careers channel on Slack.
What was your job interview process like? Do you feel like the skills you learned at Thinkful prepared you adequately?
It was difficult, because I was applying to jobs at the end of the year (when company budgets were already spent) and through the holidays (when everyone was out of office). I also made it more difficult in that I was looking for specific types of companies I wanted to work with (established, organized, collaborative, and stable vs new/startup with an ad-hoc work environment).
Fortunately, my final interviews happened in December, and I received an offer for my dream job…best Christmas present ever! Thinkful taught me the importance of having a design process. This is incredibly valuable and is what makes a UX Designer standout out to a company like the one I work at.
How did Thinkful change your life?
Thinkful has changed my life in so many ways! I don’t have a college degree and had no design experience before Thinkful. At first, I was worried about committing to an intense course like this, because I’ve always hated school. But, I love design and found myself becoming more and more interested, particularly in UX Design.
My schedule was tough, and I had so many questions, as design was a whole new world for me. I have lots of determination and discipline… I pushed myself every day and all weekend to complete checkpoints so that I could become a designer sooner. I’d show up to work, looking like I hadn’t slept in months, but I knew it would all be worth it in the end. Since I don’t have a college/university degree, I never thought I’d be able to work at a company like ExxonMobil. As I kept progressing through the phases of their interview process, I had to convince myself multiple times that it was really happening!
Now I’m extremely excited, and happy, that I’ll be learning and growing with a team of designers…my dream job!
What advice would you give other Thinkful students currently looking for a job?
Practice talking about your design projects and your design process, before interviews. This will help show confidence in your work.
Attend design meetups! Lots of working designers don’t have most UX Design skills, so build your network at meetups and find out which employers are looking specifically for the skills you have. Being approachable and making connections with hiring managers and recruiters at meetups “dissolves” the “no experience” situation most of the time, so be confident and interested.
Most importantly, don’t give up! Be patient and persistent. When applying to jobs, knowing you will eventually get an offer from a place that’s right for you.