When it came time for Maxine Yang to find a job after college, she had no idea what her next steps would be. Although she studied criminology and psychology as an undergraduate, she knew she didn’t want to enter those fields professionally. Instead, she found herself dreaming about a career in tech.
But Maxine was facing a dilemma. While completing a web development boot camp in college, she realized she didn’t like coding, which meant she couldn’t take the usual path of entry into the industry. She began scouting out potential boot camps with different tech focuses, and one in particular stuck out: the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies UX/UI Boot Camp.
Here’s how Maxine found greater clarity about her future and a new career path after college with some help from the UX/UI boot camp.
Adapting to a remote learning environment
Drawn to the boot camp’s in-person delivery method, Maxine started the program in February 2020. Within a few short weeks, the pandemic forced the boot camp to transition online. However, despite the unforeseen circumstances, she found that the instructors were still able to create a high-quality learning experience.
“In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal,” Maxine said. “We used Zoom’s breakout rooms, so our instructors and TAs were able to float between them and give us help.”
In addition to attending classes through the Zoom video conferencing platform, Maxine used Slack to ask professors questions about assignments and talk with fellow participants. Apple FaceTime and Figma, a design application that lets users collaborate in real-time, came in handy for group projects as well.
Lending and accepting a helping hand
For one of those group projects, Maxine and her teammates revamped the Canadian Cancer Society’s website. While working to make the site more modern, she discovered a new dimension of UX/UI: accessibility. Maxine gained a new appreciation for the small decisions designers have to make on a regular basis — from font sizes to color contrasts — through this experience.
“When I started learning about UX/UI, it was a lot about pixel-pushing and making things look pretty,” said Maxine. “I didn’t really care about accessibility because you don’t think about it immediately when you think of UX/UI.”
While Maxine was contributing her skills to the Canadian Cancer Society, she was also taking advantage of all the resources the boot camp had to offer. One of the most helpful was the boot camp’s career services.
“Career services checked in with me all the time,” she said. “Some days I’d be pretty unmotivated, but they’d encourage me to keep going. Back when it seemed like my options would be either psychology or criminology, I didn’t have a clue what steps to take. Career services made it simple and seamless to understand the next steps I needed to follow to get a job.”
Finding her niche in the design industry
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Maxine to find employment. She took a temporary UX designer role at a startup, giving her a chance to grow her portfolio. Just two weeks after wrapping up the position, she landed a permanent job at Hambly & Woolley, a graphic design firm in Toronto. As one of the firm’s UI/UX designers, Maxine uses many of the skills she acquired in the boot camp — both the hard, technical skills, as well as the soft skills she honed during group projects.
“The hard skills are important here, but more importantly, you need to know how to talk through conflict,” she said. “Prior to the boot camp, I never worked with a group of designers. Design can be very polarizing. Soft skills, like not stepping on toes and backing up your opinions with UX research, are definitely useful as well.”
In the future, Maxine hopes to find a way to combine one of her hobbies, like gaming or fostering pets, with design. But wherever she ends up down the road, she’s thankful for her career’s newfound direction — and the role the boot camp played in helping her find it.
“Like a lot of people, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life,” said Maxine. “I knew nothing about UX design and literally stumbled my way into this boot camp. Funny enough, I’m pretty passionate about this now. It’s probably the best decision I’ve made in my adult life. It gave me so much more clarity.”
Looking for your own career clarity? Get started with University of Toronto SCS Boot Camps in UX/UI, data analytics, coding, cybersecurity, fintech, and digital marketing.