Monica Martinez began her career as an admissions recruiter in education sales. But she wanted to do more than just pitch the solutions—she wanted to design and build them.

So she began searching for a career that offered a combination of business and creativity … and discovered UX design.. 

“After doing my research and meeting with UX designers, I had a better understanding of what types of projects and day to day looked like for them and I was really excited about it,” says Monica. 

At the time, she was living in Hong Kong and wasn't sure if she was going to stay put or move back to California, so she began looking for a UX design course that was location-flexible and also offered high quality mentorship and a community. That’s when she found UX Academy

“I looked into a plethora of options and narrowed it down to two. I chose Designlab for its structure, mentorship, and Group Crits. I thought about my learning styles, and as an independent learner, I found the structure of UX Academy to suit what I was looking for. I loved that I was able to learn at my own pace, but still had a weekly schedule to hold me accountable,” Monica says.

Monica’s UX Academy Experience

When asked about her experience in UX Academy, Monica shares, “I loved it! I enjoyed learning, creating, and improving. Don't get me wrong, it was challenging, but you get plenty of resources and help.”

One aspect of UX Academy that Monica found particularly helpful was the 1:1 mentorship with an experienced designer. 

“It's one thing to have a mentor, but it's another when you build a relationship and really lean in to understand how designers think.”

An image that reads, I wanted to be challenged and my mentor really pushed me to think bigger and ask the whys.

Monica also found the Group Crits helpful, since they gave her an opportunity to see what other students were doing and how they thought through problems.

Advice for New UX/UI Designers

Since graduating from UX Academy, Monica has landed a job that she loves as a UX/UI Designer at Publica (more on that below). And she has some advice for anyone pursuing a career switch into UX design:

“Keep going, take breaks, and don't be so hard on yourself! I know it's a rollercoaster of emotions, but all your hard work will pay off! Don't rush the learning process—really take it in and enjoy it.”

Landing a Job at Publica

Before landing her current role at Publica—a connected TV advertising platform—Monica worked as a freelancer to gain experience and to continue to build her network. One of those projects helped to land her a full-time role, just in time for her move back to San Francisco …

Monica was contacted by the Publica recruiter via LinkedIn. It was perfect timing because she was starting to actively look for roles in-house. 

The interview process with Publica was straightforward. She had an initial call with the recruiter, then an interview with the design lead, then with the VP of product, and lastly with two product managers. 

“I didn't have to complete any design challenges, but I had to present my portfolio and a project I was most proud of. I think they were really looking for someone who was a cultural fit, willing to learn, and bring UX focused expertise,” says Monica. 

Working as a UX/UI Designer

When asked how things have been going working as a UX/UI designer at Publica, Monica says positively: “Incredible (pinch me)!” 

Monica sits on the product team, reports directly to the VP of Product, and meets daily with the design lead. 

“Since we are a small team, I have formed relationships with product managers and engineers. Immediately, I've been able to help structure our design process and even built out our design system,” says Monica.

She’s working on an array of projects that span from day to day UI bugs to future forward features for Publica’s clients. 

“There's also a lot of revamping the product, so it's exciting to bring in my perspective on how to improve UX for our users.” 

Two French Bulldogs on leashes.

Outside of work, you can generally find Monica hanging out with her two frenchies, revisiting old bay area favorites, and leveling up her day to day vocabulary with Scrabble.

Check out Monica’s portfolio and connect with her on LinkedIn

To make a career change into UX/UI Design like Monica, 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.

author avatar

Alexa Harrison

Designlab

Content Writer

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