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?

The  front end checkpoints, particularly Javascript, were the most  challenging for me. I’m relieved that as a UX Designer, a general  understanding of front end work is all I need. ;)

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.

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