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Nicole always wanted the chance to do something meaningful with design.

“One of the things that held me back from making this career switch years ago was the fear that I wouldn’t be good enough to be a product designer. Now, I just wish I had switched careers sooner.”

Before enrolling in UX Academy, she did a lot of research and spoke to many people who had recently switched careers to UX design/product design to ask them about their day-to-day work.

“Talking to these career-switchers gave me the courage to take the leap myself, since they all seemed to be fulfilled in their new roles.” 

Nicole knew she needed an online course since there weren’t any in-person UX bootcamps in her area. “I did a lot of online research before choosing Designlab after a friend of a friend had recommended it. I was impressed by the student portfolios and the website.”

Once accepted into UX Academy, the 1-on-1 mentoring was Nicole’s favorite part of the program.

“I was fortunate to have a great mentor, Justin Hanson, who answered all my questions about the coursework as well as gave me advice on what it’s like to be a product designer in the ‘real’ world. I felt that I continued to learn and grow with each session.”

“My other mentor, Michael J Brooks helped me navigate the stresses of job interviews and even some questions I had once I started my role.”

Thanks to the help of her mentors and her own hard work, Nicole landed a job as a product designer at Cvent shortly after graduation. Now that Nicole is a few months into her new job, she has some advice, too.

“My advice would be to keep an open mind and be willing to make mistakes. This is something I’m still working on and probably will for a long time. You’ll constantly be learning throughout UX Academy, but the learning doesn’t stop once you’re working,” says Nicole. 

Screens from one of Nicole’s capstone projects

She’s constantly learning new tools, techniques, and strategies in her new job. This does mean being uncomfortable quite a bit, but she’s growing every day, and is framing that feeling as excitement for learning.

“One of the things I’m working at is being okay with not delivering the perfect solution from the beginning. A lot of the day-to-day work of a designer is working through multiple variations of a design, sometimes scrapping your work and starting over after receiving feedback.”

Nicole knows that accepting feedback gracefully is key to growth as a product designer.

“Oftentimes, I’ll find that something I was feeling very confident about will be completely re-worked after I get feedback from the team. I’m learning not to be married to my first design idea, and not to take design feedback personally.”

Cvent is an event management software company headquartered in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, with offices across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. 

“It’s exciting to work on projects with team members from different offices. It’s the best of both worlds to have a more close-knit team in the Portland office but also have access to the resources of a large global company. 

A UI kit for another of Nicole’s portfolio pieces

In the Portland office, Cvent hosts monthly lunches, women in leadership workshops, and team happy hour. There’s also a few office dogs—one of Nicole’s favorite perks. 

Her new team consists of a senior manager, two lead designers, and two senior designers. The company has a large UX practice.

“It’s great to bounce ideas off the other product designers since they’re working on different projects and can look at designs objectively. I’m lucky to be part of a team with such diverse experiences, strengths, and points of view,” says Nicole. “When our team gets together for critiques or brainstorm sessions, I’m always challenged to keep an open mind and look at problems from the user’s perspective.”  

Cvent’s software helps clients manage their meetings and events, from online event registration, venue selection, event management and marketing, onsite solutions, and attendee engagement. They also partner with hotels and venues to help them drive group and corporate travel business.

“If you’ve ever attended a conference or trade show, you may have used one of Cvent’s products. My immediate team is designing mobile apps for event attendees.”

Nicole lives in Portland, where nature is frankly breathtaking. As such, when she’s not working she enjoys hiking and rock climbing.

“I’ve found that the mental and physical challenge of conquering a difficult problem or route helps me with my creative process. This year, I’ve also started snowboarding and have been enjoying learning something completely new all over again.”

In 2020, Nicole is hoping to continue improving her design skills, but also to prepare for the possibility of mentoring other would-be designers in the future. 

“Eventually, I’d love to mentor new designers or those looking to switch careers. I learned so much from my great mentors, not only about design, but also about staying motivated, positive, and overcoming challenges. I would love to give back in some way.”  

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or check out her portfolio

Interested in becoming a product designer? Check out our UX Academy program, which prepares you with a full set of both UX and UI design skills, and at least four substantial projects for your portfolio. Find out more

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Alexa Harrison

Designlab

Content Writer

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