This month we’re talking to Sammy de Joya, another UX Academy success story who successfully made the switch from a career in biosciences, landing a UX design job a couple of weeks before she finished her studies at Designlab.

Sammy had graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and was working as a clinical manufacturing associate at a biotech company, helping to produce drugs for ultra-rare genetic disorders. She had been thinking of switching to a career in design for a while. We chatted with Sammy about her experience of the course, and how things are going in her new job at Comrade Agency in Oakland CA!

What made you join—and is there anything that would have prevented you enrolling?

A friend of mine had recommended UX Academy, but if I hadn’t taken the leap and resigned from my biotech job, I would never have signed up.

What got you interested in UX design?

I’d always had an interest in design since childhood, but never really thought to pursue it until I explored the options. I tested the water with the Design 101 course, learned more about the industry, and sought some counsel — it was then that I decided I wanted to become a UX/UI designer.

Did you have any worries before coming into the program and transitioning to a new field?

Yes. Coming into the program from a full time job and a steady income was challenging and felt risky. I remember thinking a lot about how much time it might take to transition into a new role. I also was worried about whether I would even be able to find a job, given that my college degree wasn’t in a design related field, and I had no prior design experience.

Sammy de Joya Spotify design

One of Sammy's UX Academy projects, working within an existing brand

UX Academy Experience

What did you think of UX Academy overall? How did it go?

UX Academy was great. It helped give me the kick start that I needed to learn all the basic design concepts and get to grips with the necessary tools. It also gave me the practice I needed to land an internship, which turned into a permanent job.

What is Designlab UX Academy?

  • 480 hours in total split into two phases

  • Phase 1 focuses on skills building, working through a series of modules that cover the UX process (User research, Interaction Design, Prototyping & Testing, UI Design — 30-40 short projects)

  • Phase 2 is structured around three in-depth capstone projects, which are more comprehensive — they are a series of deliverables and case studies

  • In addition to projects: 1-on-1 mentorship, community, and continuous feedback

Did you experience any unforeseen challenges — or any pleasant surprises?

I didn’t really run into any challenges that I didn’t expect to face. I came into UX Academy after lots of research and consideration about my career switch. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to secure a new role before I even finished the course.

Sammy de Joya UX Academy work

One of Sammy’s UI kits

What was your favorite part of the course experience?

I think that the capstone projects were my favorite part. Through those projects, I was able to understand the overall UX/UI design process by taking a project from start to finish. It also helped me understand how I work as a designer.

Do you have any advice for current or future UX Academy students?

Above all, work hard and network. The hardest part of my learning journey was not knowing what was going to come out of my time at Designlab, and how long it would take me to find a job. But after some hard work and perseverance, things couldn’t have turned out better.

I Got the Job!

How long after completing UX Academy did you start your first job? What was it?

I secured a visual design internship two weeks before I completed the course — and then I landed a permanent role as a UI Designer two months into the internship! The great thing was that the opportunity came about through connecting with my mentor on UXA.

Sammy de Joya UX Academy work

An icon set designed by Sammy

What skills did you develop in UX Academy that are serving you well in the new job? Are there any you’re hoping to develop in the future?

I learned about my own practices and preferences in how I work well as a designer — my workflow, tools, and how to be resourceful. I want to get better at using Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I’d also like to get more experience with different UX techniques.

Would you recommend UX Academy? Why?

Yes, I would. The course was well structured, the mentors were awesome, and ultimately it got me the job!

You can find Sammy’s work on her website, and connect on LinkedIn or Twitter

More UX Academy success stories

Interested in changing careers or building valuable new skills? Check out UX Academy and apply before the next cohort. There are very limited available seats and a waiting list for each cohort. Apply now to UX Academy

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