Sheray Franklin has had quite the diverse career. In 2013, she received her undergraduate B.S. in dance management, handling the production side of dance performances — and two years later, she earned an M.A. in professional communication and leadership. The result? Surprisingly, a career in ministry as assistant manager of media for her local church, a job she continues working today.
As part of her role managing her church’s media presence, Sheray has overseen the organization’s website. But over time, she noticed that her existing skill set prevented her from being able to do everything she wanted with the site. “I realized that I was limited by the template,” said Sheray. “I wanted more control over the design and knew I would need to collaborate with a coder, but had no idea what UX/UI was.”
Luckily, a staff member adept in programming, showed Sheray the ropes — and that got her mind racing. She soon began researching what else she could learn to bolster the website’s appearance and functionality, which is what led her to discover the world of technology boot camps.
Crafting great UX/UI
“At first, I was a little skeptical of boot camps, because I wondered if you could really learn an entire new profession in a span of six months,” recalled Sheray. But the more success stories she read, the more intrigued she became.
Eventually, Sheray discovered the Georgia Tech UX/UI Boot Camp through an informational session designed to offer guidance for people seeking a career pivot.
“I decided I wanted to make beautiful designs with the user in mind,” said Sheray. “I wanted more control over the web and mobile designs I was responsible for, and I felt like the program connected really well to my background in media and graphic design.”
While the boot camp was located practically in her backyard, Sheray started the program remotely in December 2020 due to the pandemic, then completed it in June of the following year. She worked full-time at the ministry all the while, tackling boot camp activities from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays, she had a boot camp session which lasted from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
With a project due each week that can take upwards of 17 to 20 hours to successfully complete, Sheray found herself working tirelessly to keep up. Staying on top of her deadlines while working a full-time job was challenging, but Sheray ultimately found that she was able to get a lot out of her boot camp experience by immersing herself in the material.
“Between class and projects, it’s definitely a long six months,” said Sheray. “But again, you’re learning a new profession that can help you land the position you’re looking for. If you can hold tight for those six months, it’s definitely worth it.”
Building a project to be proud of
Typically, Sheray would learn a UX/UI concept through boot camp lectures that could take upwards of a month to comprehensively cover. She would then apply this knowledge toward a project as part of a UX/UI team. One of her first and favorite projects was Populate, a post-pandemic travel app which required her to perform every part of the UX/UI process — including research, interviews, ideation, wireframing, prototyping, testing and final development.
Populate tells you the volume of people at any place at any time. Before deciding to travel, users can search their destination to see real time data on volume, capacity, busiest times and Covid-19 mandates. While the app is just a prototype, Sheray accumulated a wealth of expertise from the development process. “It’s great being able to add projects to your portfolio that help you become employer competitive,” she said.
Learning to make a splash on the job market
In addition to teaching technical skills, the boot camp helped Sheray sharpen some of her soft skills that empowered her to excel in a variety of professional settings. “I learned how to present and defend my work, especially in regards to why I made specific design decisions,” explained Sheray. “That was most useful during my interview process because companies often ask questions in reference to your portfolio.”
On the topic of interviews, Sheray also benefited greatly from the career services offered by the boot camp. While learners were always encouraged to meet with Career Services to strengthen their job marketing presence, developing their resumes and portfolios was a curriculum requirement. “I had an amazing career advisor, Jhinelle, as well as a material advisor, Jessica, who personally reviewed my resume and offered revision suggestions,” Sheray explained. “They helped me to increase my LinkedIn presence, an application I hardly used, and to this day I’m still receiving offers.
From ministry media to metallurgy materials
After graduating from the boot camp, Sheray applied to a few positions before eventually landing her current position with Reibus in Atlanta as the company’s UX/UI designer. Reibus is an independent industrial materials marketplace startup that has existed for 4 years. While her tenure with the company is recent, Sheray is incredibly excited about the opportunity to have significant input on the company’s UX/UI direction while continuing her ministry duties — a life path only made possible thanks to her boot camp opportunity.
Sheray puts it best: “The word ‘pivot’ is such a powerful word that is so relevant to what the boot camp offers you. It’s an opportunity to change direction and start something new. You have an opportunity to change your life through this concentrated, focused, and intentional six-month period.”
Eager to learn more about starting an exciting new career in technology? Explore Georgia Tech Boot Camps in coding, cybersecurity, UX/UI, and more — and discover how attending a boot camp can shape your future.