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Designlab Course Interview: The Power of Mentors During a Career Switch

Kacy is a veteran of three Designlab courses - Design 101, UX Research, and currently UX Academy - her investment in learning a new skill has paid off.  She says, “As cliche as it sounds, Designlab truly changed my life. It helped me rediscover my passion for art and has put me on a path to UX design that I couldn’t be more excited for!”

Read on to hear more about how the mentors in Kacy’s life, both in Designlab and her career, have been instrumental in her career change.

Why did you decide to try a Designlab course?
I majored in biomedical engineering in undergrad but then got a job at a software company after I graduated. I was at my job at the software company for six years doing a variety of things from QA to business analyst to tech support, but mostly I acted as a technical project manager and implementation engineer in a client-facing capacity.

For the last few years I have been taking classes outside of work to improve my skills and learn new ones—programming, web development, and project management. So I was always looking for online, part-time classes. Also, my mentor was a manager of a team of UX designers and asked if I had ever considered UX design. So, I looked into UX design and decided to make my next course a UX-focused one. I found Designlab through various Google searches and reading reviews.

What were your expectations for the course?

Going into Design 101, I didn’t have very many expectations other than to learn the basics of UX design.

What were your previous experiences with online courses?  How was Designlab different?

I’ve taken online courses from a variety of sites and the biggest difference between those and Designlab was having a mentor. Having a mentor provided an entirely new layer to online courses for me—expert feedback on my assignments, someone who was dedicated to answering my questions and helping me succeed, someone to hold me accountable for getting coursework done on time, and more.

What surprised you the most about the course?

What surprised me most about Design 101 was how much I loved it. The book, How to Steal Like an Artist, that was sent prior to the start of class was perfect for me. Art has always been a passion of mine, but one that I’ve never had self-confidence in. Reading that book gave me such a boost of confidence going into the class. Then throughout the class, I loved all the feedback I got on my assignments and how much my mentor pushed me to improve. By the end of the class, I had learned so much more about myself and about design than I had thought I would.

Can you talk about how you worked with your mentor?  How did this make the course different?

My mentor in Design 101 was very upfront about how he gives feedback which helped set expectations between the two of us. He really pushed me to always do better work and to think about every little design decision I made.

How have you integrated what you learned through the course into your career or personal interests?  Any success stories?  

Because of the Design 101 class, I dusted the cobwebs off my creative, artistic side. I’ve been focusing on new designs for my Etsy shop and have incorporated more daily art practices into my life with sketching, painting, and photography. I also designed a CD cover and website for a band and designed my own logos for my personal website.

Do you have any advice for other students thinking about taking a Designlab course?

Just do it! One of the reasons I chose Designlab was its affordability. I couldn’t find anything else that was as high of quality and as affordable as Designlab. I’ve always felt like my mentors and the staff at Designlab truly care about helping me succeed.

Check out more of Kacy’s work on her portfolio site and check out her career progression on LinkedIn.  If you’re interested in a career switch like Kacy, check out Designlab’s new UX Academy that has a career focused curriculum.
 

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