For many years, Joanna Tagert struggled to decide on a new career path. Partially due to not having conducted a job search in over a decade, Joanna was intimidated by the prospect of leaving her position as a senior operations manager and starting over.
With a background in fine arts, Joanna always had an interest in UX/UI and design. When the pandemic hit, she was laid off from the company she had been with for 10 years. Instead of applying to jobs in the same field, she chose to pursue a new career in UX/UI.
“I realized I wasn’t completely fulfilled by that role,” Joanna said. “I thought to myself, ‘If I start over and have to learn new things, why don’t I go in a direction that I’m more interested in?’”
A fan of YouTube, Joanna jump-started her career switch by watching videos uploaded by product designers and UX/UI professionals. Inspired by the details of their day-to-day operations, she started searching for ways to break into the industry — which ultimately led her to Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp.
Lifelong learner goes virtual
Joanna has always been very comfortable in a traditional classroom setting, so learning online was her biggest adjustment during the boot camp.
“I was working remotely before the boot camp, but it’s not like you’re sitting for hours staring at your coworkers for most of the time,” Joanna said. “My brain didn’t know what to do with a virtual classroom, mentally trying to process the information. I felt like I couldn’t process seeing faces and learning new skills at the same time.”
Joanna began implementing new techniques, like writing notes on physical paper, which helped her navigate the virtual learning experience. In mimicking a traditional classroom setting, she was able to better understand the curriculum and eventually excel in the virtual classroom.
Finding a collaborative community
From the start, the boot camp’s highly interactive and engaging curriculum made for an impactful learning experience. Joanna found herself relating to her classmates, many of whom were also new to the material, and bonding with them on a personal level.
“Having exposure to that community was the biggest highlight of my boot camp experience,” she said. “Everyone was so supportive and team-oriented.”
Joanna’s classmates offered a wealth of knowledge in different subject areas. From coding to UX, each student came with a different skill set Joanna could use as a resource to learn from. Not only were her instructors personally invested in her success, but she also found them to be readily available to answer any questions. This clear sense of collaboration and support validated Joanna’s choice to join the UX community of like-minded people who see the value in visual and graphic design.
Taking the leap and finding frog
Joanna had been unemployed for six months when she began the boot camp, so she was eager to kick off her job search. As the boot camp curriculum went on, Joanna built her online portfolio and updated her resume so she could be ahead of the game and potentially be employed come graduation time.
She resourced Career Services for help with her job search, and found their tips and guidance to be effective in boosting her LinkedIn views and getting recruiters to reach out. In total, Joanna sent out about 60 job applications. She interviewed with two companies before landing her current role as a visual designer for frog, a global creative consultancy.
“I interviewed for the interaction design role, but they chose someone else to fill that position,” explained Joanna. “But I asked if I could be a fit for the visual design role instead since I had started to feel more strongly that I wanted to focus more on my UI and visual skills.”
Thanks to the boot camp, Joanna had plenty of compelling talking points during the interview process — and the proven skills needed to secure the job. “The boot camp prepared me to confidently and intelligently articulate my thoughts and my design process,” Joanna said. “It helped me get to where I am today.”
Want to kickstart an exciting new career in UX/UI? Explore Berkeley Boot Camps.