2019 was a transformative year for Rachel Pleet.
She went from being an HR & Operations Manager, to being an English Teacher, to now, launching her career as a UX/UI Designer.
“Change is always hard. But I was ready for a new chapter that would bring a promising career path,” Rachel says.
Before enrolling in UX Academy, Rachel had no prior design experience. "I took Design 101, and loved it. That prerequisite, along with my drive to work hard and learn, prepared me for UX Academy."
In spite of the lack of design experience, she found that UX design brought together a lot of what matters to her.
“What I studied in school—public policy—uses an empathic approach to solve problems. Meanwhile, artistic creativity has always been relevant in my hobbies. This is why I settled on UX, and I feel it's an amazing fit.”
A normal day during the full-time track of UX Academy looked something like this for Rachel:
- 9:30-12:30: UXA Work
- 12:30-13:30: Lunch Break
- 13:30-18:30: More UXA Work
- 18:30-20:00: Gym & Shower
- 20:00-21:00: Dinner
- 21:00-00:00: Relax, Watch TV, Socialize, Practice Hebrew
- 00:00: Bedtime
"It was important to balance the consecutive hours of screen time with other life priorities."
After graduating from UX Academy, Rachel’s job hunt began. “It was exciting, stressful, and uncertain. UX designers are in high demand, but it felt like the majority of the jobs available were for senior level positions. Overall, it was a really good learning process.”
Rachel approached the job search by using all the relevant job platforms, as well as social media, networking, and opportunities for word-of-mouth connections. She also worked as a Freelance UX/UI Designer, which helped to sharpen her skills and made her a stronger candidate during the process.
Six weeks after graduating from UX Academy, Rachel landed a job as the UX/UI Designer for Seperia, a performance marketing company that creates and operates comparison websites across different industry verticals.
Through Seperia’s reviews, how-tos, and content-based sites, they help consumers make buying decisions. Besides designing the different page experiences for their comparison sites, Rachel also helps out with designing Facebook and Google ads.
“I'm the only in-house designer here. While my direct boss is VP Business Operations, I get direction from the project managers as to what features, pages, and content will be part of the sites I'm designing. I communicate and pass my designs to both our in-house and freelance developers.”
Seperia offers Rachel and other employees great perks, like happy hours on Thursdays, fun off-site activities, a fully-stocked refrigerator in the office, ping pong room, and overall a very chill company culture.
“I'm lucky that my career path in UX/UI launched with such a great job opportunity.”
Rachel shared the following advice for incoming, current, and graduating UX Academy students:
Expect to work hard, but, if you love what you're doing, it won’t feel like work!
You’ll succeed if you put in the hours and have the passion, even if you have no prior design experience beyond Design 101.
Take all criticisms as an opportunity to keep learning and improving as a UX Designer.
Maximize the sessions with your mentor, as their knowledge in the field is one of the best tools you have in the program.
If you're able to work with real companies during the capstone portion, do it. You can then already consider yourself a freelancer.
Put a lot of time into your portfolio and be proud of it!
Have patience during the job search. It’s meant to take time, and if you don’t get the offer, don’t take it personally.
As well as using Designlab’s Career Services materials, watch a lot of YouTube videos, read articles, and network with people to understand how to prepare for interviews.
You don’t need to wait for a publicly posted job description to apply. It’s a good idea to cold-contact companies that interest you.
Finally, keep learning! Exercise and expand your UX/UI skill set with tools that are new to you, and subscribe to some inspiring blogs and podcasts.
“I honestly feel that UX Academy turned me into a designer in the fastest, most efficient way possible. I'd recommend UX Academy to anyone who’s serious about making a career change. I'm so grateful for the education I received, and can't wait to keep growing in this career path!”
Check out Rachel’s portfolio, or connect with her on LinkedIn
Interested in becoming a UX/UI 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