The job required 6 years of experience … but Doris was hired just 10 months after starting her UX Academy journey.
Doris Cheng spent six years working as a Tax Manager for one of the Big Four consulting firms. Despite her expertise—she specialized in alternative investments, led a team, and solved complex tax problems for Fortune 500 companies—Doris knew she wanted something else from her career.
“After years of toiling away in tax accounting, I realized that what I was doing was not aligning with where I envisioned myself in the future. I knew I needed a change and I have always wanted to do something more creative,” says Doris.
UX Design As A New Career Option
As she explored different career paths, Doris soon came across the field of UX design. She was fascinated with the possibility of merging her analytical and creative halves to design solutions that make people’s lives easier.
Ultimately, the decision was an easy one: it only took one week of research and consideration before Doris decided to quit her full-time job and pursue UX.
UX Academy: The Top Bootcamp Choice
The next question Doris had to consider: what was the best UX bootcamp to help her achieve her goals?
Although she looked at a few different options, Doris ultimately chose UX Academy by Designlab.
“Choosing Designlab for my UX education was an easy decision for me. The main factors are the price and the mandatory design Group Crits. Compared to other UX bootcamps, the price is fair and reasonable and there are no hidden costs or fees. Everything is so transparent,” Doris says.
An end-to-end mobile application that empowers readers to discover, organize, and discuss their favorite books with like-minded people.
Part-Time UX Academy, Part-Time Travel
After she quit her full-time job, she decided that she wanted to do UX Academy part-time—and travel around the world at the same time. She spent an average of 20 hours a week on the course, traveled the rest of the time, and managed to finish the boot camp in ~8 months.
“UX Academy was such a fun and amazing experience! I like how it was all self-paced so I had full control of my own schedule,” says Doris.
She utilized UX Academy features strategically to ensure that she was able to fully invest in the bootcamp training—and maintain the idealized “work-life balance” that she envisioned for herself.
“I also appreciated how I was able to request breaks in between when needed, whether it was for catching up with the course materials or dealing with life in general. This helped me to stay motivated throughout the program.”
Doris’ favorite parts of UX Academy include:
“The mentorship and Slack community were extremely helpful as well. I wouldn’t have landed two paid freelance UX gigs (while still in the bootcamp) without them. These real-life work experiences helped me talk through my interviews and land a full-time job offer within one month of graduation.”
“I valued the Group Crit sessions a lot! I’m an introvert and get nervous when it comes to public speaking. Knowing communication and presentation skills are so important for UX designers, I wanted to force myself to practice more and get comfortable with that. So design critiques are made perfectly for my purposes.”
“Lastly, Career Services was something I found the most valuable in UX Academy. Shout out to my mentor, Poyi Chen, a Product Designer from Meta. My career switch was made possible with all his help from day 0. Not only did he understand my struggles, but he also provided helpful insights and encouraged me when I was being too harsh on myself. Because of him, I wanted to give back to the community, so now I’m a UX design mentor on ADPList, helping others to break into UX.”
Adding a new feature to the Airbnb iOS app that allows travelers to explore and share unique travel recommendations and secret tips
A Dream Job … But With 6 Years of Required Experience?
Doris is now working as a UX Designer at Cathay Pacific Airways ✈️
She found the job listing on LinkedIn and applied through the company’s website. The job listing actually listed a requirement of 6 years of relevant experience—which Doris obviously did not have—but she decided to give it a shot anyways, as Cathay had always been one of her dream companies to work for.
Her leap of faith paid off.
The Interview Process
“The interview process was fairly straightforward compared to other interviews I had. First, it was an HR screening call, then a 60-min panel interview with the HR and hiring manager where we discussed my background, previous experiences, and plenty of behavior questions. They just wanted to know my personality and see if I would be fit for the team. Lastly, the final round was a 30-min portfolio presentation (one case study of my choice) and 30-min FAQ. Each round was a week apart, communication was great and the process was transparent,” Doris says.
From applying to getting the offer, the whole process took about 1.5 months.
The total timeline for her career switch: 10 months from start to finish.
Responsive web design reimagining AR/VR online learning
Life as a UX Designer
When asked if a career as a UX designer at her dream company is everything she had hoped, Doris answered: “Definitely. Pursuing UX was the best decision I’ve made in my life. Things are going really well!”
Initial Learning Curve
Doris admits to struggling the first couple of months learning about the products amid the complexity of the aviation industry. However, after that initial learning curve, she started to gain a better understanding of how everything works.
“I would say I’m in a pretty comfortable spot now. I enjoy my day-to-day work and have an awesome team to work with. Might sound crazy to say, but I get excited going to work every day,” says Doris.
Work Life Balance
“Coming from public accounting where an 80-hour work week with a high level of stress is a norm, the work-life balance I get in UX is something that I wouldn’t trade anything for. Now I work from 10-6 and occasionally play squash with my co-workers during our 2-hour lunch break. And, it pays well too. Oh, and I have time to do something I enjoy after work, such as reading, coding or simply spending time with my friends and family.”
Cathay Pacific Airways are a flat organization with a centralized UX team. They have about 20 UX designers that report to a UX manager. Each designer gets assigned to one or two product lines. Doris is currently working on both Conversational AI and Cargo Digital, which has been very interesting.
Doris says, “On one hand, I like gaining exposure to both B2B and B2C products as they are quite different. On the other hand, I get to learn so much about AI and rising technology that’s going to change our world!”
Travel & Other Perks
As you’d imagine, working at Cathay has lots of great perks—including free travel!
“We get 90% off all flight tickets, it makes traveling around the world a dream come true! Also, in Cathay City, we have a sports club (tennis court, squash, gym, pool tables, swimming pool, yoga studio…you name it), coffee shops, a market, banks, and a cafeteria where you can find any kind of food you like. We also get to try out the flight simulator which is a really cool and fun experience.”
UX Projects Currently Underway
Doris can’t share too much about her work projects at this point since it’s not launched to the public yet, but she can say that they are working on some really cool Conversational AI projects, and are hoping to leverage this new technology to improve the travel experience for everyone. On the other hand, they’re also seeing lots of opportunities to digitize the experience for air cargo.
Creating an all-in-one true crime VR platform for true crime fanatics to discover, investigate and help solve cold cases.
Doris’ Advice for Soon-to-Be UX Designers
Now that Doris has graduated and landed an amazing job, she has some advice for incoming, current, and graduating UX Academy students …
“Your portfolio represents you. Have a stellar portfolio, then you already win 60%. The rest is just interview skills, strategies, and luck. I spent two full months polishing my portfolio until I was satisfied with it. No regrets.”
“Also, be proactively and look for any opportunities you can to work with real clients, whether it’s paid or unpaid. There are a lot of startups out there needing help with UX design. Don’t start when you finish the bootcamp, start on day 1.”
“Set clear goals for yourself, write down the names of your dream companies, and make a plan to navigate through.”
“Care less about the job description, even if it asks for 5+ years of experience, apply still. You never know what will happen!.”
Exploring the Bryce Canyon in Utah.
Life Beyond Cathay
Through learning about UX design, Doris discovered she enjoys learning how to code, and is currently doing 100 days of code. She also mentors designers on ADPList in her free time.
Traveling around the world while changing careers. 10/10 highly recommended. Lisbon, Portugal.
Outside of designing and coding, she loves traveling, all kinds of outdoor and water activities, and binge-watching true crime documentaries. Also, she’s a huge fan of house and techno music. She likes attending music festivals and is constantly looking for the sickest underground shows around the world to go to.
Looking to the future, Doris says: “Since I’m just starting out, I would like to simply learn as fast as I can, make lots of mistakes, and learn from them. As I progress in my coding learning journey, I hope one day I could be the kind of Product Designer who also knows how to code and the person who bridges the gap between design and software development.”
Ready to make a career leap into the world of UX design like Doris? Explore UX Academy, an intensive online program that equips you with the UX/UI design skills you need to land your first product design role.