Sabrina Hernandez: From Dental Tech to UX / UI Product Designer

Sabrina Hernandez, a February 2022 UX / UI Product Design graduate from Flatiron School, spent almost 6 years as a Dental Technician before making the decision to transition into tech.

She shares her journey from Dental Technician to UX / UI Product Designer below.

Nearly A Decade In Dental

Sabrina Hernandez’s career initially began in medicine – driven by her desire to have a positive impact on people. Following an internship at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2013, she became a licensed radiology Dental Technician.

“I was a dental tech for seven years,” she said. “I worked with cross-functional teams, assisted with fourhanded surgeries, fabricated custom removable dental appliances, operated cutting-edge 3D oral scans, and so much more.”

Her time in the healthcare field, Sabrina said, “solidified [her] passion for providing scalable positive change for people.”

Despite enjoying her position, Sabrina recalls feeling the need for a change. That change, she determined, was a new career in design. 

“A career in design attracted me because I know there’s a need for human-centered talent, and as a health care provider, this comes naturally for me,” she explained. “ And I knew that my leadership, teamwork, adaptability, and people skills were transferable.”

Her Experience At Flatiron School

The decision to attend Flatiron School was an easy one for Sabrina.

“I decided to earn my foundational product design training from Flatiron school because of their emphasis on design ethics,” she said. “When I learned this, I knew that Flatiron was the right school for me.”

While at Flatiron School, she recalls the faculty she encountered as being the most influential part of her journey into design.

“I found them all inspiring and motivating; they gave me the confidence to learn new skills and grow into a strong designer,” she explained. “A special thank you to Joshua Robinson, Bani Phul-Anand, Brian Pumilia, Ashley Kays, and Rick Dobbis for their continued support.”

But, like many other career changers, Sabrina wrestled with doubts that she could successfully transition into a new field.

“The most challenging part of becoming a product designer in this program is working through impostor syndrome,” she said. “It is a natural feeling to feel out of place or uncomfortable in a new environment, and it is essential for growth, so learning to embrace it was the best thing for me during my transition.”

Diving Into Design

Sabrina graduated from Flatiron School’s UX / UI Product Design program in February of 2022 and, aided by her career coach, had a relatively short job search.

“I was fortunate to get hired eight weeks after graduating from a design studio that was a part of Flatiron’s career partnership,” Sabrina explained. “My career coach Rick Dobbis was essential in my job hunt journey. He assisted me with polishing my resume and prepping me for the interview that landed me my first design role.”

Sabrina is currently working as a Designer / Researcher at Grand Studio. Her experience in the field thus far, she says, was worth the journey. 

“I am genuinely enjoying product design as a whole. Every day brings new challenges and is a rewarding and stimulating career,” she said. “I have many goals and dreams for my future in product design, and I am taking actionable steps toward them every day.”

Looking back, her advice to others thinking of pursuing a career in design is one of self determination. 

“Stay curious and take charge of your education. Going to school and getting your certificate will make you eligible to get your foot in the door, but your self-motivated pursuit of knowledge will reserve you a seat at the table.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Sabrina Hernandez?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Sabrina Hernandez in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free UX / UI Product Design Prep. Or, review the UX / UI Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 25 January 2023. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/.

Learning How to Learn

This article on “Learning How To Learn” is part of a series developed by Curriculum Design to guide students through the Flatiron School program experience.

We believe that when learners feel autonomous and in control of their learning, they achieve greater success both academically and motivationally. Learning to Learn is designed to offer a variety of resources and tools to help you take control of your online learning journey and life beyond Flatiron School.

Take Ownership Of Your Learning

Taking ownership of your learning journey, through personalized learning, means finding your motivation, being engaged, and personalizing your learning experience with complete autonomy, choice, and responsibility in how you approach your online learning journey. Every learner has a fundamental need to feel in control of what they do versus only being told what to do. When this autonomy is exercised, the motivation to learn and the desire to perform well academically are much stronger.

As you go through the Learning to Learn series, our goal is to encourage you to take ownership of your learning journey- make decisions that matter, pursue directions that feel meaningful, and hold a sense of responsibility and control for both your learning successes and setbacks.

Connect The Dots

Taking the leap to build technical skills takes courage and determination. It can be intimidating to dive into new skill sets and knowledge, but the rewards and sacrifice will be worth it. As you learn, your horizon will expand and the information you collect along the way will start to connect in unexpected ways.

The saying goes, knowledge is power, and when it comes to personal and professional growth, this couldn’t be more true. When we actively seek knowledge through experiences or formal education, we add another “dot” to our mental map. These dots, connected, generate new ideas and help to solve problems in unique ways. Some of the greatest innovators credit their success to continue expanding their knowledge base through both life experiences and deliberate learning sessions.

Continue adding dots to your map.

TL;DR

  • Personalized learning is a great way to improve your skills and knowledge base.
  • Learning on your own can be intimidating to start, but the rewards are worth it.
  • Seek out new experiences and resources to challenge yourself and broaden your perspectives.

Insider Guide: Flatiron School’s Admissions Assessment

When you choose to start a program at Flatiron School, we know that you are investing — both financially and an investment of your time. That’s why it’s important that you are a right fit for the program and vice versa — that our program is the right fit for you.

One way we make sure that the program is a good fit is with an admissions assessment test.

The admissions assessment is a cognitive aptitude test that analyzes your problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, your attention to detail, and your ability to learn new information. There are three different styles of questions — verbal, math and logic, and spatial reasoning. Think of the questions more like brain teasers, not about coding, computers, or cybersecurity.

After all, in addition to your experience and skills so far (if any!), we are more interested in understanding your ability to learn and pick up the skills that will be taught in our courses.

The test is 15 minutes long and can include up to 50 questions. But don’t stress. We don’t expect you to complete all the questions. Less than 1% of people complete all 50 questions.

How many questions should I complete?

Try to answer as many questions as possible in the allotted 15 minutes, with the minimum goal of answering at least 25. 

Don’t get caught up on any one question though. If you’re feeling stumped, take a guess and move on. It’s more important to maintain a decent pace and keep moving through the questions, rather than to stress over scoring perfectly on one question.

Remember, you have a 15-minute time cap so you’ll want to move through as many questions as you can efficiently.  Again, less than 1% of people complete all 50 questions so don’t stress yourself out about finishing all the questions.

Here are two examples of the types of questions you might see on the admissions assessment.

1. Sample Verbal Question: (Source)

Choose the word that is most nearly OPPOSITE to the word in capital letters: LENGTHEN

  • abdicate
  • truncate
  • elongate
  • stifle
  • resist

2. Sample Math Question: (Source)

A group of 3 numbers has an average of 17. The first two numbers are 12 and 19. What is the third number?

  • 17
  • 19
  • 20
  • 23
  • 30

How to prepare for the admissions assessment

  • Complete the assessment on a laptop or desktop as it is not mobile-friendly. 
  • Set aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted, dedicated time.
  • Remove any distractions so you can focus for 15 minutes.
  • Have a piece of paper and a pencil for notes.
  • Relax and don’t overthink it.

Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about getting the best score you can. Don’t get caught up on one question. Keep moving at a decent pace. 

There is a time clock on the page so you will know how many questions you have completed and how much time remains.

 

How does the test affect my admissions decision?

Our admissions process includes three phases — a written application, the admissions test, and an admissions interview. The test is a factor in the admissions process, but ultimately, we will consider all three phases of your application to determine an admissions decision.

Wondering what score you should get? We do have a target score for each one of our study programs but don’t worry about that upfront. Only worry about making sure you have 15 minutes of dedicated time, and then do your best.

Your score will be measured against the target score to determine if you will be a good candidate for the program. Remember, we don’t want you to commit to one of our programs unless we know you have the potential to be successful in that career field.

How do we determine target scores?

We asked our current students and graduates of our program to take the admissions test. And created our target scores based on how well our successful students scored.

Then, the company that prepares the test provided scores from successful professional software engineers, data scientists, cybersecurity engineers and analysts, and product designers. And that’s how we came up with the target score for applicants.

What happens after I take the admissions test?

After you finish and submit the admissions test, your score is recorded in our system and you will receive a link to schedule your interview at the end of the assessment. In that interview, your admissions rep will share your score and discuss your next steps.

Remember, the test is a factor in your admission decision, but we will make our final decision based on the combination of your application, interview, and assessment test.

Ready to start your admissions process? Apply now.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 01 Dec 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/.

The Holiday Season: Brought To You By Tech Workers

The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching, and retailers are ramping up operations in preparation for the biggest retail events of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With sales consistently shifting to predominantly online year over year, retailers need to evolve their digital storefronts to keep up with modern shopping trends.

For retailers looking forward to these influxes of customers, preparation is key to success and keeping bottom lines black. The tech that powers online shopping, provides a seamless customer experience, and keeps data secure is only as effective as the engineers behind the scenes.

Retailers need a technically trained team with up-to-date skills to keep up and meet four critical needs: the need for websites that perform, the need to predict trends, the need for pages to convert, and the need to keep data secure. 

Here’s how the four disciplines Flatiron School teaches – Software Engineering, Data Science, Product Design, and Cybersecurity – support the holiday season. 

Need Websites That Perform (Software Engineering)

For websites to perform well, load quickly, and deliver an enjoyable online shopping experience, the engineers behind them must be well-versed in the languages used for Back-End and Front-End Software Engineering

In fact, in a recent study retailers reported software development as the #1 desired technical skill for new hires. Java, software engineering, SQL, Python, JavaScript, and data science also made the list.  

So, how do retailers build out a technical team to get their digital storefront live and profitable? Sourcing recent graduates from technical training institutions ensure that new hires are up to date on the newest software, platforms, and best practices in the online marketplace. 

Big box and clothing retailers in particular source our Software Engineering and Data Science graduates for their skills in Python, Java, JavaScript, and SQL. These languages are used in online interfaces such as cashier-less checkout, virtual storefronts, virtual dressing rooms, and marrying online and offline data to personalize shopping experiences and increase profitability.

Related reading: In-demand skills taught to our Software Engineering students

Need To Personalize and Predict Behavior (Data Science)

No matter how optimized a digital store-front functionality is or how easy to navigate a user interface is, a consumer won’t buy from you unless they see something they like enough to part with their hard-earned dollars. Item recommendations and promotions, whenever possible, should be personalized to individual customers to increase conversions and sale amounts.  

Data Scientists are tackling this task by taking advantage of big data – the mountain-sized amount of information points generated by customers interacting with your brand. 

Our Data Science graduates use models and machine learning to connect data points from multiple sources and generate actionable insights that can be implemented at scale. 

Unleashing the power of data-based decisions can have wide-reaching impacts on your business and increase conversion rates with recommendations catered to each customer and keep them coming back to the company that, somehow, knows them so well.  

Related reading: The (Data) Science Behind Netflix Recommendations

Need Websites That Convert (Product Design)

UX / UI design is a critical success factor for successful digital storefronts. User experience and user interface can make or break mobile viability, and nothing bottoms out the performance of a website or mobile app faster than a difficult-to-use interface.

Retailers utilize UX / UI Product Designers to revamp user interfaces and outfit brand-owned digital touch-points with easy-to-use features to ensure a seamless experience that will keep users coming back and clicking ‘buy’.

Related reading: What Is Design Thinking?

Need To Protect Data (Cybersecurity)

While not a new topic and certainly not unique to retailers, recent cybersecurity trends and high-profile breaches have resulted in several pain points for brands that hold personally identifiable information (PII). 

Many retailers are realizing new vulnerabilities including cloud hosting platforms, an increased number of access points, more frequent cyber attacks, and a lack of internal resources struggling to keep up. 

In the digital age where automated attacks can quickly overwhelm retailers, having adept and skilled professionals in place is critical to a company’s continued prosperity and longevity.

Essential cybersecurity skills for the digital age include SQL, which attackers could use to steal confidential data, compromise data stores, and execute web-based attacks, as well as Python, which helps to scan and analyze malware, and Java, which can be used in penetration (pen) testing.

For retailers to ensure their databases are secure for the rush of the holiday season, recruiting cybersecurity professionals with up-to-date and relevant skills or upskilling in-house teams is critical.

Related reading: Top 3 Cybersecurity Pain Points in 2022

Join Santa’s Workshop Of Tech Workers

No matter your area of interest or expertise, you can have a hand in bringing the holiday season to life. So, if you’d like to apply to Santa’s workshop, we have good news and bad news. 

The good news is that you can acquire the skills you need to join Santa’s team of tech workers by attending one of Flatiron School’s programs in Software Engineering, Data Science, Product Design, or Cybersecurity.  

In fact, many Flatiron School graduates have been hired at some pretty magical companies that can have a hand in making the winter season feel like magic

The bad news is that Santa cross-checks the naughty list. Good luck! (Kidding.)

Apply Today to start making some magic. 

Corporate vs. Freelance vs. Start-Up Product Design Career Paths

If you have just graduated or are about to graduate from a Product Design program, you’re likely already knee-deep in the job search and on your way to a product design career path. 

You’ve spent time picking which openings to apply to, searching through LinkedIn for the perfect company in your dream industry. You may be gearing up to go into business for yourself. 

Or, you may be stuck, wondering which path you should take at all.

This post will discuss the different paths you can take, and some pros and cons of each. 

Debunking The “Career Ladder”

Traditionally, when thinking of a career that spans decades, the “career ladder” comes to mind. This refers to picking an entry-level job at a company and staying there for the majority of your working years, with the goal of progressing into a high-ranking position. This rag-to-riches narrative however does not reflect the current market. 

Gone are the days of a continuous, linear climb to the top. Nowadays, careers are much messier, with people switching jobs, fields, and careers more often than any generation before them. 

When picking where to start your career, don’t get too stuck on the different options – nothing is forever unless you want it to be. What you want today may look completely different in 5, 10, or 20 years as you change – from year to year, you’ll find differences in the work you enjoy, the type of lifestyle you want, your financial situation, and your desire for stability. 

So try not to overthink this, especially for your first job. Just pick a direction, go down that path, and keep going until you don’t like it anymore. If you come to this fork in the road again – you can always start over. 

Now, let’s get into three common career path options for Product Designers – corporate, freelance, and start-up.  

The Corporate Path

This could be called the more ‘traditional’ of the paths included in this article. On the corporate path, you join an already-established organization as an individual contributor. 

Over time, this path leads to roles like ‘Staff Designer’ or Principal Designer’ and may include people management responsibilities. These roles have a continued focus on being a designer, and sometimes include mentoring junior designers.

Pros:

  • Continuously doing hands-on design work
  • Opportunities to build expertise and develop skills
  • Can be well-compensated at senior levels 
  • Contribute to the overall design of a visible organization

Cons:

  • May have little room for creativity or innovation inside of existing brand guidelines
  • Pressure to develop a high quantity of work
  • Lower positions may not be compensated well

The Freelance Path

Designers often come to the freelancer path after building up experience and a network or freelancing on the side of a full-time job. 

Freelance work is often project-based and relies on having a strong network of clients and prospects. This path is suited to those who enjoy being their own boss and choosing their projects.

Pros:

  • High level of control over the type of work you take on
  • Lots of variety and different projects
  • Flexible schedule and control over working hours
  • High earning potential as experience and network grow

Cons:

  • Requires self-discipline to structure workdays and meet deadlines
  • Must perform business tasks including taxes, invoicing, and finding new clients
  • Can be financially unpredictable

If you’re interested in this path but not quite ready to take the risk, a great way to try it out is freelancing on the side of your main source of income. You’ll get to see if you like being a freelancer, without having to give up your stability.

The Start-Up Path

The start-up path broadly refers to starting a business. This can look similar to the freelancing path in the beginning when just starting out, but diverges over time with the progression of hiring others to work for you and scale operations. 

Designers who would like to go into business for themselves can either freelance first to build up a base of clients or drive straight in after working at a company or completing schooling, though this can heavily depend on one’s risk tolerance.

Pros:

  • Opportunity to build something from scratch
  • Very high earning potential if successful
  • Get to wear many hats beyond Product Design

Cons:

  • Financially risky and unpredictable when starting out
  • More time is spent on day-to-day business needs, instead of design
  • Can have high-stress levels with full responsibility and accountability

Remember, Enjoy The Journey!

Over your lifetime you’ll likely have several iterations of your career. These three paths detailed above are just scratching the surface of what you can be, so don’t be afraid to take risks and dare to fail. As cliche as it sounds, it’s about the journey, not the destination. So, try to enjoy it!

If a Product Design career path has piqued your interest, consider an accelerated Product Design program to turbocharge your career. Graduates from Flatiron School develop in-demand skill sets that set them up for success in the industry, no matter the path they decide to take. 

Flatiron School’s Product Design graduates go on to do great things – Apply Now. 

What is User Experience Design?

The term “user experience” has been around since the ‘90s. It was coined by Don Norman, a cognitive scientist at Apple, back before Apple became the household name it is today. He focused heavily on user-centered design, which placed the user at the front of the product design process. While “user-friendly” is a term you probably know well, it wasn’t all that popular at the time.

Put quite simply, user experience design is the process of planning the experience a person has when they interact with a product.

UX design focuses on the interaction that a human user has with everyday products and services. The goal of UX design is to make using these products and services, both digital or physical, easy, logical, and fun.

Designing Around The User

So, let’s start at the beginning: the “U” in UX. Why?

As Apple founder Steve Jobs aptly put it, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

The user is the person who is going to live, eat, and breathe your products. It’s your job as a UX designer to give them an enjoyable, useful experience.

But first, you have to know who they are. Designing a user persona (which is done by a UX researcher, whose role is more back-end and data-based) lets us come up with an ideal user and examine their desires, wants, and frustrations with current solutions.

The bottom line: You have to know who your user is to make something that works well for them.

By placing the user persona at the forefront of the design process, we ensure that we eliminate the user’s pain points and ensure a user-friendly product that they will rave about for years to come (or until you come up with a newer and better version).

Once we’ve established a user persona, the job of a UX designer and his or her team is to think through every step of a user’s journey with the product. All parts of that journey should be memorable and add value to the user. Understanding the target user and the user journey allows designers to delight customers at every stage.

A Sample User Experience

As an example of a great user experience, let’s look at Matt’s user journey with Carvana, a popular website used to sell and buy used cars.

Matt is looking for a new car. He’s tired of haggling with salesmen at the car dealership when he sees an ad for Carvana, the car vending machine. He heads over to Carvana’s website. Excited, he saves a few cars to his wishlist.

Still a little uncertain, he chats with a salesperson at Carvana and then with an acquaintance who recently used Carvana. Feeling ready, Matt finally chooses a car and puts in his payment details. A week later, his shiny new vehicle shows up on his doorstep. This is no doubt the best car-buying experience Matt has ever had!

In this example, it’s clear that Carvana put Matt at the center of their business. 

They figured out who their target user is (Matt and people like him) and their pain point (hates haggling at the dealership). Then, they thought through every step of Matt’s buying journey in order to make the entire product easy to use, incredibly useful, and downright magical.

This is the definition of good user design — to make products that are useful, usable, and desirable.

Make Magic With Product Design

User experience is just one part of Product Design – the overarching concept that combines UX and UI to craft user-centered digital experiences. For those in this field, the digital world is a veritable sandbox where the limits are naught but your imagination. 

Apply Today to take the first step on your path to a career in Product Design.  

If you’re not quite ready to apply, try out the curriculum with our Free Product Design Prep or check out the Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 16 September 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/

Bani Phul-Anand: From Beauty To Product Design

Bani Phul-Anand, a Lead Instructor of Product Design at Flatiron School, has more than 12 years of experience in Product Design. She began her career in luxury beauty and fashion, but a pivot into tech eventually led her to a career in Product Design. 

Bani shares her journey from beauty and fashion to Product Design below.

Give me an overview of your experience – where did you start and how did you get where you are today?

I started out as a Graphic Designer/Art Director in luxury beauty and fashion (Estee Lauder, Loreal, Avon).

Next, I made my way to Amazon as a Creative Director, which is where I was exposed to UX / UI Design for the first time. I took a bootcamp to brush up on my UX / UI skills and moved on to freelance for clients including Fordham University and a startup called MealPal, which is based in New York City. 

I taught design as an Adjunct Professor at the New York Institute of Technology for more than 8 years, then moved to Flatiron School just under 4 years ago.

What are some notable projects you’ve worked on?

Fordham University’s cross-functional dashboard/portal.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective Product Design students?

Practice more than you think you need to – that’s the only thing that will make you better at what you do. But don’t get stuck on tools or software, they change. And don’t be precious with your work – seek criticism, not validation.

Inspired by Bani Phul-Anand and her career pivot story? Apply Today to Flatiron School’s Product Design Course to take charge of your future in as little as 15 weeks.

Not ready to apply? Book a 10-minute chat with admissions to see if you qualify, or test-drive the material with Product Design Prep

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 02 September 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/

Do You Need A Degree To Become A Product Designer?

We’re going to put the spoiler right out in the front here – no, you don’t need a degree to become a Product Designer. 

But, that’s not the whole story.

While a formal college education isn’t required to enter the field, the skills taught in those degrees are critical. Now I can hear you saying “isn’t that contradictory?”, but hear me out.

Put quite simply, a traditional 4-year educational degree is not the only pathway for acquiring the necessary skills. In fact, you have at least three different avenues: traditional 4-year, self-taught, or an accelerated bootcamp program. 

So, better questions to ask are “Which skills do I need to get my first job as a professional Product Designer?” and “How do I get those skills in the most time and cost-effective way?”

Important Skills For Skills Product Designers

Skill #1 – Design Fundamentals

Probably given away by the fact that “fundamentals” is in the name, the design fundamentals boil down to thinking like a designer. They typically entrail understanding the universal design principles, thinking in a user-centric methodology, and the development of a “designer’s eye.” 

This is what you build style, brand, and strategy on top of.

Skill #2 – Design Tools

According to research by Adobe1, 42% of hiring managers report that familiarity with design tools is the most important skill they look for in a prospective new hire.

If you’re deciding which tool to learn first, we recommend starting with one that will help you visualize your ideas and design concepts such as Sketch, Adobe, Figma, and Maze. 

Related reading: Here’s our Design Director’s guide to creating a wireframe in Figma

Skill #3 – Communication and Teamwork

We can’t all be the misunderstood geniuses of the world that doesn’t play well with others. In the career world, knowing how to communicate effectively and work on a team is critical to a successful and long career.

Learn to take feedback well, implement constructive criticism, and work with others in preparation for future relationships with clients and coworkers.

Skill #4 – A Standout Portfolio

Yes, this is a skill. It’s easy to throw together a substandard portfolio that will quickly relegate your application to the dustbin. It’s far harder to painstakingly craft a portfolio that will get you noticed.

Should you enroll in a bootcamp, you’ll likely graduate with a portfolio filled with quality projects that have been winnowed down by review after review until only the best remain. Career service teams will also give you tips on how to build the best portfolio possible to get you hired faster. 

Whether you attend a bootcamp or not, it’s also a good idea to develop some “real world” design experience in preparation for applying to industry jobs. 

Volunteer your skills to non-profits, small businesses, and community organizations, or advertise your services on freelancing sites like Upwork or Fiverr. These experiences will improve your application, improve your design skills, and set your application apart from the competition.

Related reading: Here’s our guide to building a portfolio that will get you noticed. 

Skill #5 – Networking

Unfortunately, the old adage of “it’s who you know”, is quite true in the modern world of work. 

Networking connects you to the hidden job market (i.e., jobs that are never formally posted and are filled primarily through referrals). Build this skill, expand your network, and you’ll see doors you didn’t even know existed opening for you.

Related reading: Networking Tips (For People Who Hate Networking)

Educational Avenues

So back to the title of this article – do you need a degree to be a Product Designer? (TL, DR – No!) 

But in order to obtain the necessary skills to enter the field, there are typically three pathways available to you: getting a traditional degree, being self-taught, or enrolling in a training program.

Traditional university education

Now we’ve already established that you don’t need a degree to break into this field, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good choice for some. The structure provided by traditional institutions can be very helpful and provide on-campus networking opportunities.

The downside to these conventional degrees however is that they are time-intensive (often 2-4 years minimum) and prohibitively expensive for many.

Self-taught

A self-taught approach, while significantly cheaper, lacks accountability and guided learning that can be vital to maintaining velocity towards your goal.

For those with the persistence and consistency needed to find success in this avenue, this avenue can be freeing, allowing them to take their time working towards industry skills. But, there are many more would-be designers that lose momentum and never feel “ready” to take the next step into the industry.

Accelerated bootcamp courses

Training programs and bootcamps on the other hand – at the risk of sounding cliche – combine the best of both worlds. 

They are often an economical choice when considering total ROI (return on investment), establish a course to follow, teach practical skills, hold students accountable for progress, and provide guidance throughout. 

Some courses, such as this one in UX / UI Product Design, even provide post-graduation career coaching to help new graduates find their first job.

Not sure if a UX / UI Product Design bootcamp is worth the investment? Here’s how to know if it’s right for you. 

What’s more, an accelerated bootcamp can have you industry-ready and applying to jobs in less than 15 weeks. For students looking to change careers, a less than 4-month commitment can turbocharge their path into a new industry. 

Breaking Into The Field

Beginning a new career as a UX / UI Product Designer won’t be easy, but it is incredibly rewarding. While it will take time, practice, and patience, Flatiron School is here to help prepare you. 

Apply Today to take the first step on your path to a new career.  

If you’re not quite ready to apply, try out the curriculum with our Free Product Design Prep or check out the Product Design Course Syllabus that will set you up for success.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 02 September 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/

Sources: 
1 – https://blog.adobe.com/en/2017/02/03/hiring-trends-in-ux-design-the-6-things-you-need-to-know-about-techs-fastest-growing-field

NYC Networking For UX / UI Product Designers

With more than 8 million residents, New York City has many opportunities to connect with people from all walks of life. For Product Designers, NYC is a great place to start out, establish yourself in the thriving arts and design culture, and build a career-long network of fellow designers. 

Here’s our list of the best networking and meetup groups any Product Designer looking to expand their network should take advantage of.

Groups For NYC Networking

Brooklyn Product Design

This networking group describes its objective as “connecting the product design community together through curiosity and shared learning via speaker talks, social events, and hackathon events in a safe space.”

The group lists more than 3,800* members and covers just about every design topic ranging from design principles to research and mixed reality AR/VR. 

UX Crunch New York 

UX Crunch was created by Tech Circus, a company that produces educational events for the UX, Design & Product community. The group is dedicated to New York UX Designers and is currently hosting events online. 

Women of Culture NYC 

Women of Culture is a “community designed to connect and inspire women via meaningful engagement with the arts and creative self-expression.”

Meetups feature curated cultural experiences, group trips, workshops, and online networking events. With more than 4,500* members, this group has a ton of girl power! 

Arts, Culture & Technology 

This group brings together professionals “working at the intersection of the arts and technology to share ideas, strategies, successes, and challenges,” and to explore questions related to the influence of technology and culture. 

New York UX & Design Community

This is a Design community with the goal to blend the disciplines of business, design, and technology. With more than 5,000* members, often featured are conference talks, events, and exclusive industry reports made for their audience. 

Fashion Pros: Designers, Artists, Photographers, Recruiters 

Fashion Pros is specifically tailored to professionals involved in the fashion industry. Members include designers, photographers, videographers, artists, models, merchandisers, and buyers.

The group is a great opportunity for meeting others interested in joining the industry, finding employment opportunities, and networking with recruiters and those already in the industry.

Design Vine NYC

Design Vine is a group specifically for interior designers. Members must be actively practicing as interior designers, have a degree in interior design, or be currently pursuing a degree in interior design.

The group aims to create a “positive, energetic environment for designers to gain perspective, cultivate meaningful relationships, deep-dive into new products and vendors, and unapologetically celebrate each other’s creative and professional development in the field.”

New York Entrepreneurs & Startup Network

With more than 23,000* members, this group has by far the most members on this list. 

Members include “startups entrepreneurs, small business owners, angel and accredited investors, venture capital managers, crowdfunding experts,” and other business professionals. The goal of this group is to connect members with potential business partners, investors, and clients. 

NYC Code & Coffee 

Code & Coffee is a NYC coding meetup that typically meets on Sundays at 2 p.m. and welcomes coders of any skill level and background. 

Attendees range from self-taught hackers, current/ex FANG engineers, uni students, startup devs, fintech, bootcamp grads, and non-traditional tech folk of all ages. This is also a great opportunity for Product Designers to meet and network with developers.

Young Professionals New to NYC

As the name suggests, this group is specifically for those just starting out in The Big Apple. Members can be from any walk of life, not necessarily design, and their events often focus on social events and outings. 

New York UX & Design Community

This group brings together designers of all disciplines and design-adjacent positions. Members include “Product Designers, UX designers, UI designers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Marketing Designers, and design enthusiasts.”

The goal of the meetings is simply “to learn something new and meet someone new.”

NYC Black Designers 

NYC Black Designers’ mission is to “foster the small but growing community of black designers in New York. To raise awareness, and strengthen ties with groups outside of this community and ultimately change that percentage.”

Most events focus on the topics of UI/UX Design, UX Research, Design Strategy, and Visual Design. Designers of all levels and backgrounds are welcome, as well as design adjacent roles like Product Managers, Engineers, and Data Analysts.

Find Your Community At Flatiron School

Whether you’re based in New York City or not, a community can help you get to where you want to go – the first job, the next one, or just to get started. 

When you join Flatiron School’s UX / UI Product Design Course, you’re joining a community of like-minded designers. Though they may come from all walks of life, their goal is the same – to take charge of their futures and launch a new career in Product Design.

Join them and Apply Today to be industry-ready in as little as 15 weeks.

Meet The Creators Of Our UX / UI Product Design Curriculum

Flatiron School’s UX / UI Product Design curriculum is created and taught by Product Designers with years of real-world industry experience.

When you join Flatiron, you’ll be trained by experienced industry professionals. Their classes are filled with practical, hands-on, real-world examples so you’ll be ready to jump into your first job as soon as you graduate.

Dr. Delminquoe Cunningham

17 years of experience in the arts, 3D design, animation, and UX / UI design 

Picture of Dr. Delminquoe Cunningham, Senior Product Design Curriculum Developer

Dr. Delminquoe Cunningham, a Senior Curriculum Developer, has held a variety of roles from UX Designer and Rendering Specialist to University Professor and Business Consultant. But, as a self-professed lifelong art lover, it’s all been part of the journey for him.

After receiving a BFA in Computer Animation he spent several years at some of the leading companies in special effects, animation, and game development – NBC Universal, Sci-Fi, Krater, and Acclaim Games to name a few.

This led him to return to his alma mater as a teacher while he obtained a graduate degree in Entertainment Business. But, he says, all these paths were leading him to user experience. 

Before joining Flatiron as a UX / UI Curriculum Developer for Product Design, Dr. Cunningham worked with Mitsubishi Electric Trane as a front-end developer and UX designer, working to develop new customer experiences for building automation systems.

“My advice to students is to be a lifelong student – always be curious, and look for the next trend in art and design.”

Read about his career change: https://flatironschool.com/blog/animator-to-ux-ui-curriculum-designer/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delcunningham/ 

Bani Phul-Anand

17 years of experience in graphic design, creative direction, and UX Design

Picture of Bani Phul-Anand, Lead Product Design Instructor

Bani Phul-Anand, Lead Instructor of Product Design, started her career in beauty. She held positions as a graphic designer, and later art director, in well-known luxury beauty and fashion brands including Estee Lauder, Loreal, and Avon.

But a move to Amazon as a creative director exposed her to the world of UX / UI and ultimately changed her career trajectory. 

“I took a [UX / UI] bootcamp to brush up on my skills,” Phul-Anand said, “and moved to freelance for clients like Fordham University and startups like MealPal in New York City.”

“My advice to students is to practice more than you think you need to – that’s the only thing that will make you better at what you do. And don’t get stuck on tools, they change. Don’t be precious with your work – seek criticism, not validation.”

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/baniphul/

Siana Altiise

10 years of experience in experience design, product design, and education

Picture of Siana Altiise, Product Design Curriculum Designer

Siana Altiise, Product Design Curriculum Designer, has held UX Design positions at some of the best-known companies in the industry. 

Following a BA in Research and Experimental Psychology and an MA in International and Intercultural Communication, she pivoted into the world of design. A former Product Designer for Dell Labs, she has designed AR learning experiences at META and for ELM Learning. 

Outside of her career, Altiise performs as a sensory artist and is a certified PADI Rescue Diver.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sianaaltiise/

Website: https://www.sianaaltiise.com/

Anwar Montasir

20 years of experience as a designer, developer, educator, and curriculum writer

Picture of Anwar Montasir, Senior Product Design Curriculum Writer

Anwar Montasir, Senior Product Design Curriculum Writer, has channeled his education into a variety of teaching positions at colleges and bootcamps over the last 20 years. 

After attaining a BFA and an MFA in Fine and Studio Arts, Montasir jumped into the field of education, starting as an Adjunct Digital Media Professor in a New York City area school and transitioning seamlessly to different learning institutions before joining the Flatiron School team.

He also created learning videos and wrote blogs concerning UX and Web Development for Treehouse, an e-Learning provider focused on diversifying the tech industry through more accessible education. 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anwarmontasir/ 

Website: http://anwarmontasir.com/ 

Think you have what it takes to join the ranks of the best Product Designers working today? Test your mettle with a Free Product Design Prep Lesson, or take the plunge and Apply Today to our Product Design course that will set you up for success and launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 10 August 2022. For updated information visit https://flatironschool.com/