“Once I realized I could leverage my skills and interests with product design to help create a more empowering, beautiful, and safer digital world that improves people’s lives, I ran towards it and never looked back.”
Amy Lima is a first-generation American by way of Brazil, a dedicated solo traveler (50 countries and counting), and a culture enthusiast who speaks 4 languages (and currently learning her 5th). All of that to say, she’s always had a deep appreciation for the human experience, been able to deeply empathize with different perspectives, and is happiest when she’s helping people create meaningful connections, whether with each other or within themselves.
“Technology has always bridged the gap between my many worlds, connecting me with my family in Brazil and friends around the globe, and it’s also helped me discover new parts of myself in ways that make me feel whole. When I learned I could have an active hand in building these bridges for others through design, I ran towards product design and never looked back,” says Amy.
Before UX Academy, Amy was working in the music industry producing and managing live events and artists. She became interested in shifting her career into product design to actively redistribute that joy and humanity back into the world through technology—the most persistent and powerful companion in our collective lives.
“Put simply, once I realized I could leverage my skills and interests with product design to help create a more empowering, beautiful, and safer digital world that improves people’s lives, I ran towards it and never looked back,” Amy says.
Choosing Designlab to Learn UX Design
For Amy, choosing Designlab for her UX design education was a no-brainer...
“In researching bootcamps and speaking with several admissions reps, it was immediately clear that Designlab valued its students as people first rather than just a sale. They never pressured me to quickly enroll or commit to anything, and always provided objective information when I asked.
Beyond that, I loved the flexibility Designlab offered, from the ability to request a mentor switch, change the pace of your program from full-time to part-time, and most importantly, customize your projects to create a unique portfolio that could stand out in a sea of nearly identical bootcamp grad portfolios.
This Clubhouse project holds a special place in her heart because it is where she found her groove for design and gave herself completely to the process.
I also felt Designlab’s price point was the most reasonable compared to its competitors, especially considering the scholarship and financing options they offer. Seeing the success of their former graduates, I was confident Designlab was the best option for me,” says Amy.
Amy’s UX Academy Experience
Amy enrolled during the peak of the pandemic and put all of her energy into the curriculum—at least partially as a distraction mechanism during the darkest days.
“That being said, I truly loved every minute of it—the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn more, and that excitement constantly drove me forward,” Amy says.
“Every aspect of UX Academy is set up to help you succeed: the projects are all uniquely challenging and allow for customization, giving you room to push your craft with unique portfolio pieces. The 1:1 mentorship in the program provides you with constant support and a space to ask as many questions as you’d like, which is invaluable to your learning and growth. The group critique sessions are also hugely helpful in teaching you how to present your work and ask for and receive feedback, as well as providing valuable design resources.”
Working as a Product Designer at Pinterest
Amy is now working at Pinterest on the Pinner Creation team, which focuses on how to support Pinterest users (Pinners) as they create native content on the platform.
“It’s an innovative team in an exciting problem space building products from 0 to 1, which is everything I was hoping for in a role, so it’s truly a dream job! My current projects at Pinterest are very exciting. I can’t share too much other than the problem space we’re designing in is very innovative, so thinking through those solutions has been a very meaningful challenge so far,” says Amy.
Fundamentally, Amy’s past disciplines were centered around human behavior. Whether those behaviors informed economic models or album release strategies, she was always considering why and how people made their decisions and thinking strategically to meet them in that space. In practice, her experience working in the music industry taught her how to work under pressure and think critically and creatively to problem solve in fast-paced environments—all vital skills she's now using as a Product Designer at Pinterest.
The life of a designer: hundreds of screenshots in your camera roll. From the first week at Pinterest where she audited the core user flows of the app.
Outside of her full-time job with Pinterest, Amy has worked with Unconvo and Base on several freelance projects, which has also provided her with valuable experience. Her work with Unconvo—a community product in the literary space—has been ongoing, so she’s really been part of the evolution of the company from the ground up as their founding designer.
“It’s come with a lot of challenges, but I’ve learned a lot about the business implications of design, product strategy, and early stage startups,” Amy says.
Her engagement with Base was short-term but super exciting since they’re in the MedTech space. “I learned a lot about the industry and the unique challenges that come with building a product in that space. Their team is extremely talented, inspiring, and supportive, so it was a great experience.”
Amy’s Advice for Would-Be Product Designers
Now that Amy has graduated from UX Academy and landed a job that she loves at Pinterest, she has some advice for those also interested in making a career switch to the product design field.
“Remember that your design journey doesn’t end with your bootcamp—quite the contrary, that’s just the beginning!
That’s why I strongly encourage early career folks, from bootcamp students to junior designers, to explore additional learning opportunities to supplement their bootcamp studies.
This could mean:
additional short design courses on UI or another specialization
getting additional mentorship on ADP List
joining a weekend hackathon, taking a specialized training or workshop
working on a side project with other students
or listening to webinars, workshops, live streams, and masterclasses whenever you can.
More passive ways you can continuously learn is by listening to relevant podcasts, watching Youtube videos, and curating your social media feeds to be more design-focused. Essentially, you want to immerse yourself in the design industry and absorb as much knowledge and context as you can. This not only sharpens your skillset, but also helps you build the common language you’ll use throughout your career.
Said another way, my biggest advice is to play the long game: prioritize continuous learning and sharpen your skills, even marginally, every single day. The compound effects of this not only lead to exponential gains in your hard skills (which inevitably translates to professional success), but also gives your design career the framing and commitment it deserves. I believe this isn’t a craft you can learn overnight nor a get-rich-quick scheme. Managing your expectations accordingly and investing in your long term stills and achievements is, in my opinion, the most vital and reliable key to success.
With that in mind, I’d also recommend any designer continuously share their work publically and put themselves out there. As one of my mentors put it, ‘let people know you exist.’ Leverage your social media channels, write articles, join group portfolio reviews, pitch yourself to co-host a design chat, anything that makes sense and is authentically you. Making yourself a known and recognizable name slowly and progressively will undoubtedly benefit you throughout your career.”
Life Outside of Work & Looking Ahead
Outside of work, Amy is constantly keeping herself inspired and challenged. This means trying new things and building sustainable habits. Right now, she’s learning how to paint, and trying to create one piece of artwork a week. She’s also learning French and has classes twice a week. Exercising is also truly a meditative practice for her, so she tries to move her body at least four times a week (currently focusing on powerlifting and mobility training).
Fun fact: Amy is a competitive powerlifter—this picture is of her first competition where she took home 1st place!
Socially, she loves meeting up with friends to go out to eat or see a movie, and she tries to do that as often as she can given the constraints of the pandemic. To unwind, Amy loves watching documentaries and Korean thrillers or reading. In her pre-pandemic life, she loved traveling and would get away as often as she could; but these days her trips are few and far between. Nonetheless, experiencing new cultures and immersing herself in new environments sparks her inspiration the most.
Amy absolutely loves to travel. This is her and her little penguin friend getting to know each other in South Africa, one of her favorite destinations to date.
Looking forward, Amy hopes to be involved in a challenging and exciting product release at Pinterest and to learn from that experience.
“Seeing something you worked on go live into the hands of users is the most exciting part of the job, and I’m looking forward to experiencing that. I also have some design courses on the side I’m hoping to complete before the end of the year that will help push me further in my craft, so that’s a big goal as well!”
To hear more about Amy’s journey to product design and her experience working at Pinterest, check out her webinar on our YouTube channel...