It’s now two years since our first cohort of students began their journey to a career in design with UX Academy.
We’ve been able to tell countless stories of how students landed jobs after the course—and now, with the passage of time, we’re delighted to be able to start talking to our alumni about how their first year or two has been on the job.
Today, we’re talking to Designlab graduate Diana Glozman. Before UX Academy, she worked in marketing in the financial sector, and taught English in South Korea and Japan. We discussed how she became a UX designer, and what she’s been working on during her first year in the industry!
Hey Diana! So what took you from teaching English to UX Academy?
After returning to the U.S., I was asked to do some technical editing work. I agreed, and found myself editing a Japanese book, The Non-Designer’s Guide To Design Thinking by Kuni Saso. Through editing the book, I discovered that many design techniques and thinking patterns came to me naturally… in fact, that I had been using them all along.
For instance, I have always thought visually. I would look for ways to venture out of my comfort zone to physically see new things and gather new experiences. I also realized that I excelled in tasks where I could use a combination of analytical and creative thinking—exactly what is needed to succeed in design.
I knew right away that I wanted a career in design, but I didn’t know what sector to go into. I started doing research on the various fields that involved design, and I narrowed it down to UX. Once I’d determined the next step in my career, I did more research into all the different paths—and discovered that there are a lot!
In fact, the whole process of figuring out the right path, and signing up for a course, took a good couple of months. I realized that for me, a structured UX bootcamp would be the most efficient way to gain the foundation I needed to break into the field. So I signed up for UX Academy, and the rest, as they say, is history!
A lo-fi prototype from one of Diana’s UX Academy capstone projects
What job did you get after the course? And what projects have you been involved with so far?
Initially I landed a UX design internship at Modernizing Medicine (ModMed), a south Florida company specializing in electronic medical records. The internship turned into a full-time job, and my first year in the role has been packed with full-scale projects. So far, I’ve done all this (and more!):
- Conducted all kinds qualitative and quantitative research
- Supported designers, developers, and product owners with numerous initiatives
- Developed research-based personas and journey maps
- Designed new features
- Re-branded existing features
- Contributed to web and mobile style guide creation
- Created sketches, diagrams, mockups, and prototypes
- Ran usability tests using InVision and Tobii eye-tracker (both web and glasses)
- Lead design sprints and cross-functional task force initiatives
- Planned events and exhibits
- Attended industry conferences, such as HxD and UX Dev Summit
I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work on a broad range of design initiatives and projects. These days I’m splitting my work between supporting a Scrum team, supporting the organizational UX needs, and pushing forward with UX initiatives.
My boss recently mentioned that my portfolio played a huge part in helping me land an interview at ModMed, and I couldn’t have gained these skills as rapidly as I have without the great curriculum and mentorship of UX Academy. Sara Vilas Santiago, my Phase 2 mentor, provided constant feedback that I was able to use for iteration. In the Career Services phase, Andrew Schall had great suggestions for shaping my portfolio and resume to showcase my skills.
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint my favorite project or task because I really enjoy the variety of projects that I get to partake in. One thing I enjoy is taking extra care to loop in all key stakeholders and key end users to the process—it helps ensure that the end result will meet the needs of all involved. But I know that there will be much more to do and create going forward!
Wireframes from Diana's UX Academy portfolio
What do you wish you’d know/someone had told you before your first year in the industry?
There are definitely a few things that I picked up along the way that are fairly universal to designers.
- First, design is constantly evolving but human behavior is fairly constant. Focus on understanding the behavior.
- Second—on a more tangible note—it’s important to get a thorough understand of the main design systems and patterns out there: iOS, Android, responsive, etc.
- Third, as a designer you will sometimes be pressured into timelines that can drastically reduce the quality of work produced. It’s good to know when and how to push back.
Above all, remember that you will never know everything—but you can always strive to get the details, and never settle for less than your absolute best.
Final mockups from one of Diana’s UX Academy capstone projects
What are the biggest lessons you’ve taken from your first year on the job?
Lesson 1: There is an inexhaustible amount of information out there, but you can only absorb so much of it. Prioritization is your saving grace.
Lesson 2: Data will guide you in the right direction, but it won’t solve problems for you. And stakeholder influence may trump the data when it comes to the final design.
Lesson 3: Be kind, but also be firm with your decisions. It’s about being able to defend your decisions, without becoming defensive when provided with quality feedback. It can be a fine line between choosing to defend your approach, or taking another direction. Ideally, by following a process of iteration, you can find ways to satisfy all parties.
Part of a UI Kit from Diana's UX Academy portfolio
Thinking beyond the job itself, how has your career change impacted your life more broadly? Were there particular things you were looking to change or improve? How has that worked out so far?
I feel incredibly blessed to live the life I have now. I live near the beach and enjoy a year-long summer. During the weekdays I wake up early, eager to get to work and start on my projects. I enjoy the company of my supervisors, coworkers, and staff.
It’s incredibly rewarding to see my skills improving and see the direct impact my work has on the end-user, the company, and the industry I’m in. However, like all things in life, some days are better than others, and sometimes there are tough moments at work. For the most part, I’m very happy with the current state of things as well as with my prospects.
Have you had any opportunities to get involved with mentoring? What’s it like being on “the other side” of the student–mentor relationship?
About three months ago I started getting contacted by individuals interested in making a transition to UX design. It felt surreal having people reach out to me for advice!
It was even more surprising that I already knew how to direct them to gain a preliminary understanding of design and start building up their skills. Having been a student so recently myself, I can easily empathize with both their excitement and their anxiety about making the transition. I let them know that their efforts can turn into an incredibly rewarding profession.
Mentoring is very satisfying. It’s wonderful to see your mentees grow and progress through their projects. It’s also a great way to refine fundamental knowledge and keep learning.
How are your career ambitions developing—are there particular skills or aspects of the job you’re considering specialising in or undertaking further in-depth training?
One of the many things I love about design is that there is always so much to learn. Working with a team of talented designers provides me with daily inspiration to continue to refine and grow my skills.
I tend to learn best with some form of structured guidance, so I am currently continuing to take online courses and getting ready to take the GRE. My goal is to continue working my job while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Design or Human-Computer Interaction. I am still at the beginning of the exciting journey that is my design career!
Check out Diana's portfolio at dianaglozman.com!
Looking for a change of careers?
Designlab’s UX Academy program offers rigorous curriculum, personalized mentor support, and a thriving, global student community. Ready to launch your new career as a UX designer? Get all the details here.