When Lena Emara applied for UX Academy she had been working as a clinical therapist for a couple of years. Looking back now, she knew she had a passion for design—she just didn’t know what exactly to do with it.
Before switching to a degree in Psychology, Lena had majored in Interior Design. There was something about Psychology that drew her in: learning how people think and why they behave the way they do. But there was also something about design that she remained passionate about.
From the time she began majoring in Psychology, she felt strongly about becoming a therapist so she could provide services to her community (where mental health is so stigmatized). But once she actually became a therapist, she found that she was burning out regularly, all while feeling undervalued, unempowered, and underpaid.
During this time—when the burnouts were getting worse and seeping into every other aspect of her life—she began to learn about UX design through casual conversations with her husband, who described designers as “people who use psychology to design apps, websites, and software.”
For months Lena researched the field and talked to many designers. She even took a career assessment. “The final push for me was realizing that my ultimate goal with clinical therapy was to make a positive impact on people. With UX, who’s to say I can’t do that on a much larger scale?” says Lena.
Lena’s UX Academy Journey
Lena came across Designlab through online forums and then spoke with some of our UX Academy alumni. She had compiled a pros and cons list for all the programs she was considering and narrowed it down from there.
“My priorities were price, time, mentorship, and opportunities to interact with other students (Group Crits were a great way to do that and practice my presentation skills)” Lena says.
Once accepted into the program, Lena found UX Academy challenging—but in the best way. “The things that got me through it were my mentors, Group Crit facilitators, and peers. It was really helpful to have that weekly meeting structure and offer support to one another. It was another great way for me to meet my peers and tackle design challenges together,” says Lena.
“I also appreciated the ability to create the briefs for my capstones. It really helped to set my portfolio apart. Without that ability and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”