It was only a month after graduating from UX Academy that Carlos Castro received an email from the Senior UX Designer at American Express. Rewind four months, and Carlos wasn’t even working as a designer—showing how quickly a major career pivot can actually happen.
“It’s been almost one year since I started working for American Express, and it has been an adventure,” says Carlos. “I get to be part of a team that actively designs, tests, and releases products. This has been the best part of my journey so far—being able to see my designs transition from ideas to mockups to global, real-time features.”
After graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Design, Carlos began working for a tech startup, Zenefits, as an Insurance Broker. Don’t let his title fool you, though: working at a small startup means wearing many hats, and since his managers knew he studied design, he’d often get pulled into creative projects. Eventually, this led to a Project Management role within the company.
“I’d mostly do instructional design and focus on understanding our platform users’ issues and create content to alleviate the pain points. I’d also relay this information to our developers. Eventually it started to click that I was at some level practicing UX design principles, and I started to investigate how to grow my influence in this matter.”
After weighing a few options, Carlos decided Designlab would be a great fit due to our 1-on-1 mentoring, Career Services program, and competitive tuition price.
“I love taking chances and it was an ‘I’ve got nothing to lose,’ type of thought pattern I had when I decided to take the plunge. I’m also super optimistic, and for some reason, I felt like I could do this and make it big.”
Thankfully, Carlos was proven right.
“Overall UX Academy was a very positive experience. My 1-on-1s were super constructive and helped me to think about things in other perspectives in order to really remain open to criticism to iterate constantly.”
What is Carlos’ biggest piece of advice for incoming and current UX Academy students? “Start off strong and set the tone from the get-go. If you start off lazy, it won’t get any better than that, and you’ll really shoot yourself in the foot.”
“I was always fascinated by anything creative. I hated the idea of a 9-to-5 job, and after a quick semester of business school I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to have a dynamic job, where I’d always be working on new projects and seeing them from end to end. UX has allowed me to do just that. The better pay is just a perk that comes with it.”
At American Express, Carlos has had the opportunity to lead and work on five global applications for corporate products. This includes a project for the Japan market, which was a unique but exciting challenge.
“I now have the voice and experience to shape how a product should work based on our audience. It is a really fulfilling role, and I really enjoy being able to make the lives of our users better through better products.”
Carlos expects 2020 to be a very exciting year. American Express will be funding his relocation from Scottsdale to New York City in January, with an approved plan of moving to their London office some months after.
“I’ll continue being part of the same UX team, but working on other products and features. So needless to say, this adventure is only getting better and better!”
You can check out Carlos’ portfolio, follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn!
Want to follow in his footsteps? Check out our top-rated UX Academy program and grab your free syllabus.