Meet Paula: From Teacher & Software Developer to Product Designer at WhoCanFixMyCar

Paula Darias is an art student turned educator turned developer, ultimately turned product designer at WhoCanFixMyCar in England.

Team Designlab
Team Designlab
Dec 8, 2021
Min Read

Paula Darias received her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and her Master’s in Secondary Education and Teaching from the University of La Laguna in Tenerife—the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. Upon graduating and moving to London, she made the decision to become an art teacher, a journey which lasted eight years. Then, she decided to try something new in order to further challenge herself and feel more creative. 

“I never thought I would have been able to change my career in my mid-30s, and tech has always been something that I admired but never considered doing,” says Paula. 

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UX Academy Capstone: Post-COVID-19 vaccine symptoms feature for the period tracker app Flo, to better understand the menstrual experiences of people after they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

After talking to her friends about it, she found inspiration in their journeys and made the decision to join a software development bootcamp, Makers Academy. 

“I proudly finished the bootcamp, and although I was proud of myself for what I learned, I didn’t really feel it was for me. After a couple of internships, I realized I was jealous of what the product design team was creating. I didn’t want to code their designs, I wanted to develop my own skills as a UX designer and work on my own projects. I found true love when I met UI and UX design,” Paula says.  

Paula’s UX Academy Journey

Paula considers reviews to be the first port of call when assessing a company or education provider you don’t know much about—and the most valuable way of getting information about the personal experience of other users.

“I spent a few weeks doing my research and Designlab offered the best option. Their up-to-date curriculum and the one-to-one mentoring sessions were the two things that made me go for it. And what a lovely experience it was, I cannot describe how passionate I am about UI and UX design. I enjoyed every little bit of the design process, from the one-to-one interviews to the design step, from the color palettes to the white spaces,” says Paula. 

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UX Academy Capstone: A fictional social e-commerce app for independent record labels to allow users and artists to make connections. This app will allow the creation of an international network around underground bands that will help artists to become more well known and to help sell their music and merchandise.

“After a few weeks at Designlab, I also realized how important my previous skills were going to be in UX design, from my years at university learning art, to the empathy gained when I was a teacher, to the technical way of thinking from programming.” 

“I highly recommend Designlab for anyone who wants to get into UX design. They make sure you first get familiar with the basics in their UX Academy Foundations course—and after completing it I realized that it was essential for what came next. I thought that having my arts and coding background was enough, but I found my knowledge of design increased dramatically and helped prepare me for the work that was to follow after taking Foundations,” Paula says. 

Landing a Job at WhoCanFixMyCar

Paula decided to apply to jobs before graduating from UX Academy to get a headstart. She went ahead and published her portfolio on Webflow, updated her LinkedIn profile, and applied to most of the jobs she saw in London that fit her capabilities. 

“Within a week I had responses from many different companies—which I was not expecting at all! I was ready for rejections and to embrace the job hunting process in the best way possible. I had two interviews right away, and I passed them both. I could not believe it!” says Paula. 

Paula was lucky that she got to choose between two companies that were interested in her. She ultimately went with the company where she would be working within a team, was fully remote, and had a better starting salary. 

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UX Academy Capstone: Work on a web app for a fictional insurance company that needs to develop a product to sell insurance policies online to younger generations in a way that is easy to understand.

“I don’t regret it, I’m very happy as a Product Designer at WhoCanFixMyCar. It’s a fast-growing, ambitious company and I can see how much they care about their employees,” Paula says. 

WhoCanFixMyCar is a small company headquartered in Newcastle, North East England. There are three people on the design team, and Paula gets to work very closely with the UX Design Lead—who is an experienced professional that makes her feel very comfortable and from whom she’s learning loads. They have a rebrand launch coming up and things are going pretty fast, so there’s lots to do. 

“I feel that, through both Designlab and my previous experience as a developer, I’m prepared for the high standards required in terms of productivity. I get to design and build things quite quickly, and being used to the fast-paced work environment makes me feel confident in what I do,” says Paula.

“A career in UX design is exactly what I thought it would be and wanted. I get to design my own projects and I feel the design fundamentals come out very naturally to the point where I don’t even have to think about it. I love the challenge that is required in the redesign of existing websites. I enjoy the research as much as I enjoy the visual part of the UX design. Just informal talks with users have helped me learn a lot about the user journey and the web structures that would have never crossed my mind otherwise.”

WhoCanFixMyCar offers employees the option of going into the office on Tuesdays if they like. And although Paula enjoys working from home, she thinks it’s always nice to get out of the house and socialize with colleagues. The company makes sure employee wellbeing is as important as the work they do, so they offer online yoga sessions and confidential mental health assistance. They also ensure employees have a comfortable workspace at home and offer a budget for them to improve the space where they work. She also gets to travel every couple of months for work meetings, work dinners, and parties!

Paula and her team are currently working on the company’s rebrand. They’re creating new designs, incorporating the new logo, changing the color scheme, and creating a better journey based on the feedback they’ve had from users. 

Looking Back & Forward

“When I was studying with Designlab I read many success stories from people who got jobs before or right after graduating—which at first made me feel anxious. I felt very happy for those people, but for some reason, I didn’t believe that could happen to me. Every story sounded too good to be true! Now I am one of those people. No matter what happens to you, DO NOT GIVE UP. Believe in yourself and your own journey, no matter how long it takes,” Paula says.

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It’s all about your quality of life, amigos.

Now that things are going back to normal after the pandemic, Paula is starting to go back to what she used to do to entertain herself. The way she approached life has completely changed since COVID happened, and she takes things much slower now. She also plays drums in a hardcore punk band called Nekra, check it out on Spotify!

“My goals for 2022 are to learn as much as I can from my colleagues, to get used to my new team, to feel proud about everything I've done to come this far, and to enjoy every single day as if it was my last. I’m very thankful for having a job and even more so that I enjoy it!”

Check out Paula’s portfolio and connect with her on LinkedIn.

If you’re looking to make a career switch into product design and land a job with an awesome company like WhoCanFixMyCar, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program, for which UX Academy Foundations is the prerequisite course.

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Top Designers Use Data.

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.