Before UX Academy, Gina Yu worked as a storyteller in magazines, public radio, startups, nonprofits, and agencies. But everything she’s done work-wise has been in pursuit of understanding people more deeply and fostering moments of empathy.
The decision to make a career-switch to UX design came when Gina reached a point where she realized she had a myriad of skills and experiences, but no real way to use them to create real impact.
“I had always dreamed of making listening to people a part of my job, which explains my Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. But I wanted to take it a step further and make that empathy actionable,” says Gina.
She had a general love of design, and after researching various career possibilities, Gina felt like UX design could be the perfect intersection of design, empathy, and business that she was searching for.
“I chose Designlab for my UX design education because it offers individual mentorship and pushes everyone to take their projects from end-to-end. It was incredibly valuable to me to be able to research and design products through multiple perspectives. I feel like Designlab allowed me to grow as a UX Designer that can advocate for impactful and accessible solutions.
I’ve recommended UX Academy to more people than I can count, (even strangers that reach out on LinkedIn!). I found the program to be really immersive in first helping me to build knowledge, and then test my comprehension through practical projects and design tasks.
My absolute favorite part of UX Academy was the community that it continues to encourage and inspire. I loved how I was matched with a mentor that both empathized and encouraged me but also pushed and challenged me toward growth. I also really took advantage of the Group Crits to not only make connections, but also friends, some of whom I still keep in touch with! I think the program does a great job of emphasizing that while we are designers, we are also teammates and peers.”
Now that Gina has graduated from UX Academy and landed a job that she’s passionate about, she has some advice for incoming, current, and graduating students:
“Stay true to who you are. When making big life changes, we naturally want to listen to all the advice, read all the books, and drown ourselves in podcasts. (I did all that too, don’t get me wrong.) However, I also think it’s really important to be able to step back and define what you value, who you are, and what you really want. That way, you can intentionally focus on your work and also let it shift and adapt as you work alongside mentors and peers toward something that feels fulfilling,” Gina says.
Gina is now working as a UX/UI Designer at Pear Deck, an educational technology (edtech) company. She’s on the Product Team and works daily with Product Managers, Developers, and a Senior UI/UX Designer. A big part of her job at the moment is to talk to teachers and find out how Pear Deck can make their jobs a little bit easier.
“It’s amazing to be able to serve teachers, especially during times like this,” says Gina. “I feel so fulfilled in being able research, design, and build with delight and empathy in mind.”
“Honestly, I feel incredibly lucky to be working at Pear Deck. When I started looking for a job, my values were in culture, mentorship, and excellence. Pear Deck is not only one of the most human places I have worked, it is also one of the most intentional. Our product team is full of humble, kind, and brilliant people, and I’m honored to work with them.”
Right now Gina and her co-workers are completely remote, but Pear Deck has provided lots of opportunities for virtual interaction. They offer a virtual coffee club that you can pop into on video and hang out with other people in the company, and they send coffees from various small businesses to enjoy during that time.
“I remember someone was having a baby, so they threw her a virtual baby shower. The week of, the company sent all of us themed popcorn, stickers, and a postcard to send her for the shower. It’s lots of things like that that makes work feel really human. Also there’s a Bureau of Birthdays that prepares something special for every single employee’s birthday, super fun!”
Outside of work Gina loves hanging out with her close group of friends and gathering around tables of food cooked together. She also spends a lot of time in nature, writing poetry, and baking bread.
This year Gina looks forward to growing more niche in her skills. “Being a generalist is really fun and useful for so many teams, but there’s nothing like getting nitty gritty with strategies and techniques,” she concludes.
Interested in making a career switch to UX design? Check out our UX Academy program.