We recently sat down with UX Academy graduate Oliver Tolman, now a Web Designer at Mayo Clinic in Portland, Oregon. 

Although Oliver began his career in television and radio in New York City, he soon found his way into marketing at a tech startup in Portland. So how did he manage to make a successful career transition into UX design ... and get hired by a top company in the healthcare industry?

In this article you’ll learn about:

  • Oliver's journey through UX Academy to becoming a web designer at Mayo Clinic
  • How his marketing experience helped him land a job in UX/UI
  • Tips and advice to becoming a successful designer after bootcamp
  • … and more!

Watch the complete conversation, and read some highlights below …

Hey Oliver! Tell us, what were you doing before UX Academy, and why did you decide to switch to a career in web design?

Oliver: “It was kind of unintentional, it just kind of happened. I originally worked in New York City at a radio station called Breakthrough Radio and a magazine called Franklin 51. I was looking for another creative role and so the first thing that came to my mind was marketing. So I worked for a marketing agency in a tech startup and I did find some creativity in marketing. 

“While there I was pulled into our website redesign. I had already done some design for templates and landing pages, but nothing as big or as complex as a multi-million dollar marketing website. During that project, I started using this pretty cool app—and a few of you may know about it—it’s called Figma 😂 I was immediately in love with it. It all just made sense. Eventually I found Designlab, and I decided this is the direction I'm going in.”

And we’re so glad you did, so why did you sign up for UX Academy over other options?

Oliver: “I looked at other bootcamps of a similar nature, and it kind of blows my mind how many of these bootcamps have really awful websites. Designlab was one of the only ones that has a good website and brand. It was welcoming and easy to navigate—that pretty much sold me.

“Also, I saw some of the mentors came from Airbnb, Microsoft, and other pretty big names. That was important to me to have great coursework, but also have that insight from someone who's been in the field for a long time.”

We love our mentors! So how were you able to get financial support from your employer for upskilling?

Oliver: “I worked for an educational technology company. So being an EdTech company you have to put your money where your mouth is and be willing to invest in the education of our own employees. We had a professional development fund that was a percentage of your salary. It was pretty soon after the website redesign that I talked to my manager and showed her UX Academy Foundations

“I basically said: ‘I designed a lot of stuff, now we want to have a great user experience for our prospective customers, and this is a great way to improve. This money that will be invested in me will make money for the company.’”

It’s definitely a win-win. What was your experience in UX Academy like?

Oliver: “One of my favorite things about UX Academy was working with the mentors. The first mentor I had was an invaluable part of my process. Being able to give constructive criticism is difficult. You have to both be able to say what you're trying to convey. Your mentor has to feel like you know what they've done, you can see it and you understand it, and you can also see where it's improved or where it can be improved. 

“My mentor was really good at doing that, and it actually encouraged me further to make my designs at a high standard. It also feels like you're not alone in what you're trying to do.”

You are never alone in the Designlab community. How long did it take you after graduating from UX Academy to find your job?

Oliver: “I started looking for work in May, by July I got an offer, and I started in August—so about three months.”

That’s awesome! What was the interview process like?

Oliver: “When I was interviewing for Mayo Clinic it was for the center of digital health, which is basically taking healthcare online. For example, it creates accessibility in places that may not have a hospital for 30+ miles. My enthusiasm about this carried a lot of the conversation in the interview process because accessibility is really important to me. 

“Having that enthusiasm for the place that you're interviewing is crucial because it is so easily read if you don't have it. If you're enthusiastic both about the product you're interviewing for and the work you’ll do—that makes up more than half of who you are and how interesting you can be. At Mayo Clinic, they’ve hired people who were less experienced because they seemed like they cared more.”

That's a great insight. What benefits and perks have you found working as a web designer? 

Oliver: “You definitely get paid well, so that's cool. Regarding benefits, I think it's not a designer thing, it's the company. You can tell if a company cares about their employees by the benefits that they offer. This is a great interview tip as well: as much as you're being interviewed, you're interviewing the company as well, so ask about benefits and perks.”

Watch the complete conversation with Oliver to hear more about:

  • How he went about choosing which capstone projects to work on
  • Why growing front-end development skills will help you
  • Tips for dealing with imposter syndrome and burnout
  • Red flags to look out for in the interview process
  • … and more!

Looking to transition your career into the world of web design like Oliver? Learning visual and UI design is the best way to start. With UX Academy Foundations, you'll work 1-on-1 with an expert mentor to learn key visual design concepts and practical skills.

author avatar

Alexa Harrison

Designlab

Content Writer

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