From Graphic Design & Pastry Arts to Product Designers at WebstaurantStore: A Double Feature Success Story

These students’ past experiences made them an ideal fit for this restaurant supply and distribution company.

Team Designlab
Team Designlab
Aug 30, 2021
Min Read

Steve Voong and Ally Taylor are two UX Academy graduates who’ve both recently landed UX designer jobs at WebstaurantStore. Before UX Academy, Steve was working as a graphic designer, and Ally as a pastry chef. Their past experiences made them an ideal fit for this restaurant supply and distribution company.

Choosing and Learning UX Design Through UX Academy

“What motivated me to learn UX design was my stagnant growth in design, and I wanted to learn more in order to expand my passion for design,” says Steve.

He had heard from numerous people that UX design is a hot field to learn, and while he realized that UX isn’t widely known in his hometown of Las Vegas, he made the decision to stay ahead of the game.

Ally on the other hand, a designer of fine pastries, felt so lucky that she was able to explore her passion for baking as a first career. But, she confesses she started to feel burnt out after a while, and became curious about what other jobs were like.

After deciding to take a break from baking, Ally worked in a coffee shop. “Every morning I took orders for a design team down the street. I found out they created the branding for the coffee shop as well as the restaurant that my boyfriend was a chef at. I loved their work but knew I didn’t want to do graphic design. This curiosity led me to UX design! By the time the first wave of the pandemic hit I was researching how I could use my creativity and problem-solving skills,” says Ally.

Both Steve and Ally did their due diligence in researching UX design bootcamps, and ultimately settled on UX Academy for similar reasons.

“I read these success stories, which gave me the confidence to pursue UX Academy. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and also did a price comparison. At the end of the day, I felt like the higher-priced bootcamps wouldn’t make me a better designer or give me more connections, rather, it was about the amount of effort and work you put in,” Ally says. “I also chose Designlab because I heard great things about the student community and mentors!”

Steve says, ”After researching the pros and cons of each bootcamp, I found that Designlab gives the most at the best price. The most important thing that I needed in learning UX was a mentor; someone who can guide me on whether or not I was learning correctly. UX Academy was one of the few things in my life that I’ve had ZERO regrets about. I’m happy to say that I can talk about my designs with much more confidence now!”

Ally was initially on the UX Academy full-time track and later switched to part-time. “At first, I was trying to prove to myself that I could complete it quickly. I then realized it's okay to learn at your own pace. The flexibility to switch tracks was super helpful. I was able to take my time and really absorb what I was learning. I also thoroughly enjoyed the mentorship, it was very encouraging and I needed that support,” she says.

Advice for Would-Be UX Designers

Now that Steve and Ally have landed jobs in the UX design industry at WebstaurantStore, they have some advice to share with others pursuing a career change through UX Academy…

Steve says: “Manage your time wisely! Being able to stick to the timeline helped me not to overwork myself, and I was able to produce viable designs without tension.”

Steve Voong 1
Prototypes for a personal injury law firm in Las Vegas that Steve worked with for one of his capstone projects.

Ally continues…“I could write a lot about this one! But I will break it down into each phase:

Incoming Students: Try to connect with other students, it will only enrich your experience. Even if you are shy, there are other shy students and you’ll create a support system. Reach out on LinkedIn, help others with their project questions, and be fully present in Group Crits.

Current Students: If you feel like the coursework is not in line with your pace, don’t hesitate to switch tracks. If you feel that your learning style is not a great match with your mentor, ask to switch. Designlab was super helpful in finding what works best for you, you just have to self-advocate a little.

Graduating Students: The job-hunting process is a roller coaster of emotions. Reach out to the Designlab community for support! Use your resources, if you want something you have to work for it. I used ADPlist to book sessions with designers to ask them about the job hunting process and general advice. Do not take rejections personally, if a door closes look for a window!”

Landing UX Design Jobs and Working at WebstaurantStore

For both Steve and Ally, a job hunt while utilizing the Designlab Slack community was vital to finding a gig. 

“I found out about WebstaurantStore through Designlab’s #job-opportunities channel on Slack! Nicole Locklair, who does Talent Partnerships and Career Services here at Designlab, had a direct connection to the hiring manager and she sent my portfolio over,” says Ally. 

Through our Partnerships program at Designlab, we’re actively reaching out to companies and organizations large and small to try to match our graduates with opportunities ranging from short-term projects, to longer internships, to full time roles. Companies get started by filling out a short survey, and then we speak with them on exactly what their needs might be. 

Since many of our graduates are career switchers, their past backgrounds often make them stronger candidates for certain roles, and when matching students and employers we’re really taking into account what other skills and experiences each graduate brings to the table to help them land the best role to launch their careers. In Ally’s case, she was a clear potential match for WebstaurantStore with her experience in baking and cafe management. Steve had past design experience, which is often attractive to employers looking for UX designers who will have a broader understanding of the design process as a whole. 

Both grads had one phone interview with the hiring design manager followed by a virtual interview with a few of their design managers and the VP of Design. They also took a personality test, and had the opportunity to present a case study during their interviews.

Ally Taylor 1
A journey map for the Healow case study (adding a feature to an existing app) that Ally showed to the VP of Design in her interview.

“I’m still onboarding, and there’s already so much to learn along the way,” Steve says. “From what was explained to me by another team member, the work process is very similar to the UX design process with Designlab.”

The design team at WebstaurantStore is split up into many branches, and Steve is currently working on a smaller part of the team, internally, helping other employees make their jobs easier.

At the time of this interview, Ally wasn’t sure which part of the team she’d be working on, but she is sure that her new community has been so welcoming. “I’m so happy to be in a career where I can continue to grow and challenge myself as technology evolves. It really fits my personality, and my background taught me a lot of soft skills that are now coming in handy.”

As far as perks go, Ally and Steve are both fully remote but if they want to they can travel to any of the office locations for a work/play situation. “You also get a discount on their products. My boyfriend is a chef so I think he may ask me to cash in on this one,” says Ally.

Steve is also enjoying getting to know his new co-workers. “There are a few meeting sessions where nobody talks about work, which makes it fun to mingle with the other members of the team,” he says.

Life Outside of Work, and The Future

Steve and Ally are both enjoying their new careers as product designers at WebstaurantStore, but life isn’t all work all the time (though, they do both seem to enjoy continuing to expand their UX design skills in their free time).

"I go to the gym, play video games, cook/eat, and work on other designs outside of work,” Steve says. “Looking forward, I want to be able to (in a snap of a finger) determine what needs to be done in each UX process for each specific project.”

Meanwhile, Ally is “all about mental health. I like to balance all of that screen time by getting plenty of fresh air and making the most of my weekends, whether that's choosing to have a lazy day or go hiking.”

“Graduating from a bootcamp is just the start of my UX career,” Ally says. "My goal is to put my head down and build upon my Designlab foundation, I still have a lot of learning to do that you can only learn by being on the job! My professional goal for 2021 is to become confident in articulating my design decision.”

If you’re looking for a UX design education provider that will provide you with career opportunities tailored to your experiences and expertise, we recommend exploring UX Academy. You can apply directly if you meet our prerequisites!

Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.