Hazel’s career journey began years before it seemingly started, back when she became deeply interested in the Middle East after visiting Israel for the first time for a family friend's bat mitzvah trip. After this experience,she then went on to receive her Bachelor’s in Middle Eastern and North African Studies with an Arabic language focus.
“I didn't know it then, but the academic research experience I developed through my studies laid the groundwork for my love of research design as a future UX Researcher and Designer,” Hazel says.
Shortly after graduating from university, she received a Fulbright scholarship for a teaching position at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco. Teaching in the Moroccan higher education system was the ultimate exercise in creative design thinking. She collaborated with university faculty to design a course curriculum that helped to address program gaps and better prepare students to succeed in the program.
“I loved my students and the area of Casablanca so much that I stayed on for another year to teach English but also lead a student community service group in Morocco. Here I helped students design community projects with a focus on environmental and social change,” says Hazel.
From Casablanca, Hazel relocated to Washington D.C. to work for a Palestinian academic research nonprofit, and then onto a position where she helped to manage student programs in the Middle East. It was here where she became fascinated by how users navigate and learn in digital spaces.
“I found that one of my biggest strengths was my ability to empathize with users, allowing me to design digital products and curriculum that addressed students' and faculty's specific needs,” she says.
Through her research, she put a name to the career that would perfectly fit her passions: UX design. Before deciding to make the career transition, Hazel researched the field and conducted many informational interviews with UX designers in the D.C. area.
“I then delved into the impact of UX on business metrics, and found stats that indicated for every $1 invested in UX results on average saw a return of $100, and that UX design improvements could yield conversion rates up to 400%. In our ever-increasing digital world, I knew that this was a rapidly expanding job field, and companies that valued user experience had a competitive edge.”
Researching the Best UI/UX Design Bootcamp
Hazel then committed to researching an education provider that could equip her with the skills needed to make the career-switch to an industry where the user's perspective is an integral cornerstone of business and design decisions. This is when she found our UX Academy program.
“When I discovered Designlab, I asked if they could connect me with alumni in the D.C. area that had successfully gotten jobs after the program. They put me in contact with a Designlab alum that works as a UX Designer at National Geographic. Coincidently, this person had a very similar career transition experience to me with a background in International Affairs,” Hazel says.
“Talking to her, I asked her if she thought that Designlab’s curriculum had prepared her for transitioning careers to her current position, to which she said yes. After this, I reached out to a few other alumni, and they all answered yes to this question. From there, I felt 100% confident in choosing Designlab for my design education.”
Hazel was looking for a condensed learning-intensive experience to learn technical and visual design skills while leveraging her past research and project management experience. The UX Academy course curriculum addressed these gaps in her skillset.
“My experience with UX Academy was incredible. During the course, I not only mastered new design tools like using Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, InVision, and Webflow, I also fell in love with the research stage of the UX design process,” she says.
Another aspect of the course that made a huge difference for Hazel was the mentorship. As a neurodiverse person diagnosed with ADHD, Hazel learns differently compared to someone who is neurotypical.
“When I was matched with my mentor, Matt, I told him about this and described some of the learning challenges I was having. Matt was incredibly patient and made a significant impact in helping me work through and eventually overcome these challenges. Matt was instrumental in reassuring me along the sometimes scary learning path, helping me reframe project roadblocks as key learning moments.”