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UX Design Immersive

Valerie Wong Kiat Min

Valerie Wong started her career as a marketer. However, she discovered early on that she wanted more for her career. While interning with Singtel, one of the four major telcos operating in Singapore, she came across UX/UI design for the first time and fell in love with the subject. Valerie didn’t waste any time and looked into how she can get the skills she needed to start a career in the field.

Following referrals from friends, Valerie enrolled in General Assembly’s UX Design Immersive bootcamp. Armed with the right skill set, she landed a job as a UX/UI designer at Deloitte Digital.

Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending the program?

I had just graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Communications. Given that the marketing industry is saturated with talents, not to mention the decrease in jobs due to COVID-19, I was hesitant to start looking for a full-time position as a marketer. Instead, I took on a six-month internship position at Singtel.

What motivated you to explore a new career or upskill in your existing field, and why did you decide to pick this program?

While I was interning at Singtel, I realized that I had little passion for marketing. So, I began seeking a career path that suited me. My first encounter with UX/UI design was at Singtel when I worked on creating marketing assets for a mobile app. I loved the experience. I was keen to pursue this career path as it was something that I was passionate about and could see myself doing it for the long term.

I opted for General Assembly’s UX Design Immersive (UXDI) course because a lot of my friends attended the program to switch careers. Through my research, I reviewed General Assembly’s outcomes, and the job placement rate impressed me. I was confident that I would get a job after the three-month bootcamp despite having no prior experience.

How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?

I used my savings from working part-time to pay for the course fees. As a Singaporean citizen, I was also able to benefit from subsidies, which accounted for a significant portion of the tuition fees.

What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?

Joining the program helped me transition into the tech industry. My cohort had several other people who were also new to UI/UX. So, I easily formed connections with other peers and we learned together. That gave me a strong support system while going through the rigorous curriculum.

Also, it was great that the lessons were curated. My instructor and teaching assistants were industry professionals and they often shared their experiences with us. That helped me to understand the content better.

How did you fit the program into your schedule?

I took on a full-time course so all of my time was focused on learning with no distractions. Thanks to the insight I got from my friends, I knew beforehand that the schedule was going to be hectic. Balancing other commitments on the side while doing the UXDI course would have still been possible, but it would have been challenging.

Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?

I worked with a startup to design a female health app for women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The application helped them to track their personal health and access insights from professionals. Also, I redesigned and enhanced the search and enrolment process on Coursera’s website and mobile app. Finally, I designed a new e-commerce platform offering sustainable beauty products.

Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?

Do your research. Do not be shy to ask questions about the UI/UX industry [or your desired career path] before fully committing to it. You can use platforms like LinkedIn or APDList to connect with other UI/UX professionals and ask whatever questions you may have.

Did you find a new position after the program?

I found a new job.

How did the program support you in finding a job?

The program itself is structured to help you achieve the end goal–to secure a job. The projects helped me build my portfolio, which was essential during the job search. General Assembly’s career coach also provides advice to those who request help, and they offered jobs for students to apply.

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

In some way, it was different — it didn’t seem entirely strange. The job search process itself was pretty straightforward, although some companies required me to do a design challenge.

Knowing what kind of jobs and how the UX industry is like in the local landscape was also something I found out about during my job hunt. I realized that Singapore’s UX industry has not reached maturity, and most employers prefer UI designers over UX designers.

How many companies did you interview with? How did you choose which one to work with?

I had about 10 interviews but I received only one offer. It was tough to make a decision as most companies in Singapore were keener on UI. But, I knew that I wanted to experience a good mix of UX research and UI design.

I wanted to work at an agency where I can also accelerate my learning, and so when Deloitte Digital’s offer came, I took it. It was my first choice.

How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?

As a designer, it is crucial to know which tools are important and how to use them. During the course, I learned several practices and processes that were helpful in setting a foundation I’m building in my current job. I also learned to use design tools like Figma at General Assembly, and I now use them daily in my job.

What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?

UX/UI is a good fit for me, and I have no regrets about investing my time and money into the course. Job prospects are also something that I looked at, and given that UX/UI is an emerging industry in Singapore, it offers a lot of job stability, especially in these difficult times.

What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?

My current line of work encompasses all the things I enjoy in terms of design work, problem-solving, learning about human behavior, and so on. Personally, I enjoy creating, and with my current job, I am able to design user experiences that can help others. That is very fulfilling to me.

I feel that I am in a position where I am doing what I love, what the world needs, what I’m good at, and what I can be paid for.

What do you enjoy about working at your current company, are there any specific perks you enjoy?

My working conditions differ from client to client. Ultimately, it’s the work experience and potential to learn a myriad of skills that excites me.

Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?

Know your short-term and long-term goals and what you want to achieve. Don’t apply for any jobs available willy nilly. Make sure that you take the time to read up on the job description, and hiring company. Understand what the company is looking for and see how you can be a good fit for them.

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