Alumni Spotlight: Cage’s Journey into UX/UI
We sat down with recent UX Academy graduate Cage Castro to chat about his journey into starting his own design consultancy company. Leveraging the design acumen he accrued during the bootcamp, Cage has chosen to go the freelancing route, looking for both flexibility and autonomy in his new UX/UI career.
An Excitement to Learn Again
Coming from a background in corporate recruiting, Cage found an entry point into UX/UI while working to recruit product designers at his last role. After getting his interest piqued, he connected with a few other folks who had made the career leap, several of whom recommended Designlab.
UX Academy Foundations was a pivotal part of Cage’s journey, as the course felt accessible, and ultimately cemented for him that he both had the aptitude and passion for UX/UI work.
I was just super excited to be back into a creative space—I felt energized again.
After fueling the creative fire with Foundations, Cage jumped into UX Academy full-time. He attributes his success to an excitement to be back in a learning-based environment coupled with an extremely positive working relationship with his mentor. He also found a vibrant community which provided a platform for learning, growth, and idea exchange.
“I was just super excited to be back into a creative space—I felt energized again. I had a really great mentor that hyped me up but also allowed me to make mistakes. There's a lot of value in what Designlab directly offers, but it goes so much greater than that. It gives you this opportunity to learn. I think it is an incredible thing that exists.”
The Impact of Having a Network
Cage stresses the importance of having a network when branching out into any new career. Through his background in recruiting, he already had a strong LinkedIn presence, which led to opportunities for connection with individuals seeking creative solutions. What started with a post in LinkedIn promoting his new design skills has now grown into building his own design studio.
“I made a post on LinkedIn, and just said that I’d graduated from this program and was super excited about it, and that I’m interested in keeping it up. And then I had gotten a ton of responses from that, which was really interesting because I didn't really think that I would get people reaching out to me.”
This high level of engagement with his connections, coupled with desire for more career autonomy, inspired Cage to go into freelancing instead of applying for other UX jobs. While he knew he could go the more traditional route of working for someone else, he decided it would make more sense for himself to strike out on his own. He’s now in the process of starting his own business.
Having a background that cultivated a lot of previous connections was certainly beneficial. However, Cage recommends that folks looking to expand their network should do so, even if it can feel a bit intimidating. The pros almost always outweigh the cons, and most people want to see you succeed.
“Especially in UX/UI, something I've seen generally is there's just a lot of support. There are a lot of folks who are career changers. So I think they've been in the same position as people where they're making a switch from something else and they are really encouraging and supportive, which is really nice. There’s not a lot of gatekeeping in UX.”
What Comes Next
A new adventure awaits Cage as he looks to get his studio off the ground. Cage brings prior education in marketing, his strong networking skills, and now his UX Academy experience to the table. He’s aiming to provide holistic, creative solutions for companies looking to cultivate their brand. Even though it’s still early he already has several clients, and he'll be looking to formally launch the studio, called Tusi, within the next couple weeks.
He’s been hired by an electrolyte supplement to identity and create product mockups, and is in the beginning stages of creative strategy planning for a fashion brand as well. The skills he learned in UX Academy are helping inform some of the most relevant decisions he’ll be making as he consults with his new clients.
“User research is so important because you have to be able to understand your audience before you create anything for them. If you're going to just create for one target demographic, and you make something that's not touching them or their interests, you're going to have a disconnect. You're not going to see the same sort of business growth that you would otherwise.
And then design, of course, is working along with a client to make sure that what I'm making is part of their vision.”
Advice for Future Career Switches
For those considering a bootcamp or a career switch, Cage offered some straightforward advice – overcome fear and take a leap of faith. He identifies that of course it can be scary, but in the end it’s worth it to do something that’s ultimately more fulfilling.
There was only one variable that I was hesitant to change... my career because of the security I had. And now being on the other side of it? This is the best thing I've done for myself.
“I was tired of going into work every day and complaining. Obviously work is stressful and everything—but I was in a constant battle with wanting to make sure that I was living the happiest life I could. And there was only one variable that I was hesitant to change, which was my career because of the security I had. And now being on the other side of it? This is the best thing that I've done for myself.”
Cage is very excited to also formally announce his company and website, Tusi, which we encourage everyone to check out on LinkedIn.