Wendolyne Barrios: Food Industry to Freelance Designer
Wendolyne Barrios spent a decade in food service before pivoting to UX / UI Product Design. Six months out from graduation, she’s opened her own design agency.
Wendolyne Barrios, an August 2022 UX / UI Product Design graduate from Flatiron School, spent a decade working in food service before pivoting to tech for a more sustainable career. She recently founded wendolyne.design, specializing in brand design, web design, and mobile app design.
She shared her journey from working long shifts in food service to owning her own design agency below.
A Culinary Beginning
Wendolyne spent the first 10 years of her career in the food service industry. She began helping in her family’s business, then pursued her own career in the field.
“I sort of fell into this field because it was something I was familiar with,” she explained. “My mom catered events while I was growing up. When I was legally able to work, I just took the skills I had and followed a path that seemed to be easier at the time.”
But a decade in, Wendolyne knew she needed a change.
“Working in the food service industry is tough on the mind and body,” she said. “The field took more from me than I got back, so I knew I had to make a change if I wanted to live a healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable life.”
Following Her Heart To Design
Wendolyne ultimately decided to switch careers into a field she was truly passionate about.
“Time kept passing and I kept trying to find a way to live the life I wanted but didn’t know how to find a career in the things I was already passionate about,” she said. “I didn’t want to force something I had no interest in and run with it simply because it felt like I needed to make a move.”
But for her next career path, she didn’t need to look far to settle on UX / UI Product Design. In fact, she found that she’d been doing it all along.
“Throughout my years of working in the food industry, I was also [creating collateral for my band]. I created album artwork, event flyers, and a band website,” she said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already implementing so many of the foundations of product design.”
Spurred on by her desire to live the life she’d imagined, Wendolyne applied and was accepted to Flatiron School’s accelerated 15-week UX / UI Product Design program.
Her Time At Flatiron School
Like many other students, it took time for Wendolyne to adapt to the quick pace of the accelerated Flatiron School program.
“There is a lot to take in, and everything is presented in a way to reduce that feeling, but anyone switching careers or fields can easily be overwhelmed by how quickly [the program] picks up.”
But, her cohort and mentors were a constant source of support throughout the course.
“Thankfully, I had cohort mates to troubleshoot with [and] a team of mentors I could reach out to and ask for guidance and feedback,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to approach certain situations if it wasn’t for my instructors. It may be hard, but nothing worth having comes easy.”
A key turning point for Wendolyne was when she realized the overlap between the course’s curriculum and previous designs she’d created for her band.
“When I first found product design I wasn’t aware of how much overlap there would be with the work I was doing before,” she explained. “Once my instructor pointed that out, everything clicked and I stopped questioning myself so much.”
Building A Design Business
Wendolyne graduated from Flatiron School in August of 2022 and began a career as a freelance product designer. In January 2023, she founded wendolyne.design, which specializes in brand design, web design, and mobile app design.
“I am not lying when I say that I love my job,” she said. “There was and is so much to learn in terms of freelancing, but after the hours I put in learning product design, I know I can do anything, even if it’s a little tough or feels defeating at times.”
She acknowledges that while pursuing a freelance career may not always be the easiest path, it’s given her space to grow as a designer.
“The passion and love for the work are absolutely what I wanted, but starting out freelance is always difficult since you’re overseeing much more than a product designer [on a team],” she explained. “However, I have been enjoying the process of learning who I am as a designer and being more willing to take up that space as the designer I see myself as and want others to see me as.”
But just over 6 months after graduating, she’s found her footing as a professional designer.
“I recently booked a few clients, so I am incredibly excited to be gaining some real-life experience with real clients,” she said. “I have been creating workflows and setting up routines that work for me and my productivity. It has been really fun to allow myself to find my place as a product designer.”
Takeaways From Her Career Change
Looking back at where her journey began, Wendolyne’s takeaway from her experience with Flatiron School is one of personal pride.
“I pushed myself harder than I thought I could,” she said. “I pushed myself mentally and emotionally to come out of the other side of it and feel like I was finally going somewhere. It was worth it, for me to feel the way I do now.”
Her advice for others, however, is to have patience. Patience with themselves, and patience with the process.
“Just do your best. Don’t overthink it, which is easier said than done,” she conceded. “Stop expecting yourself to be able to do everything immediately and just let yourself be a sponge and soak up as much as you can. Enjoy the process and things will fall into place.”
Above all, she recommends trusting yourself and the path forward.
“Trust your instincts even if seems a little scary at first. There’s nothing like the feeling of knowing you have the ability to do exactly what you wanted to do. Being on the other side is worth it.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Wendolyne Barrios?
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Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of March 8, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.
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