Avocademy will like to spotlight another successful alumna, Leslie Garcia. Find out how Leslie went from being an aspiring writer to finding another creative career in tech. She reveals how she made the transition and how you could do it too.
Leslie is now a remote product designer making a six-figure salary. Gain some insight through her Q&A interview with founder Maca Biagorria.
Read the full Interview below.
Q: Could you please introduce yourself?
A: I am Lesley Garcia, a product designer based in New York. I'm newly employed and just landed my first design job.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your journey? How did you find out about UX/UI design? And what made you take the leap into a new career?
A: Yes, I studied creative writing in school and was an aspiring poet. Getting into graduate school was challenging so I switched my focus to teaching English. And since I had previous experience working with different students in the past, I thought it would be a good fit for me. But two months after I graduated college, I received a phone call that my dad had a stroke, and he became paralyzed from the chest down. So at 22, I became a full-time caregiver. I've been doing that for the past three years. I remember scrolling through Tik Tok, and coming across you (Maca) talking about user experience design. I quickly grew interested. Since I became a caregiver for my dad, I realized things were not built for him. Obstacles such as stairs were everywhere. But thankfully digital products really changed his life. For instance, he can control the lights using an app off his phone. I liked that user experience design centered people and could help them with their needs. That is what initially attracted me to the program. So I decided to sign up for the scholarship and start the program.
Q: Let's discuss your timeline from joining the program to now.
A: Yeah, so it took me about two months to complete the Foundations program. And I remember the first few weeks were scary. But it was also exhilarating. I needed to conduct interviews for one of the assignments so I used my Instagram stories to collect data. I got 100 people to fill out my survey and was really proud. And the momentum continued. Although there were challenges, the process was enjoyable. Overall, It took two months to build my capstone project, which was a journaling app. I finished around January 30th, took February off, and started back in March. After completing the Foundation course, I received other great opportunities. I did a hackathon throughout March and then helped a business owner build an MVP. Afterward, I started Career jumpstart, in April. It took about three months to finish the two Career jumpstart projects. Those projects added to my previous two gave me four real-world projects for my portfolio. My job search only took a month before I got my offer. So in just 8 to 10 months, the quality of my life has transformed.
Q: Your job search process was relatively quick. As a disclaimer, it typically takes 6 months to find work after completing Career jumpstart. Tell us a little bit more about your salary and how that's changed your life.
A: Yes, and obviously numbers are not everything, but when you come from a low-socioeconomic environment, it's life-changing. I come from a community where the typical salary is $30,000 and the aspiring salary is $40,000. I quadrupled my salary and got a 6 figure offer. My current salary is $105,000.
Q: As another disclaimer, the average Avocademy grad makes $85,000. Tell us more about your job perks. You mentioned you got a computer and you got a wifi stipend.
A: Yeah, I got a computer. Another fun perk is the business trips! I have a remote job, but four times a year I'll travel to Chicago for about a week. The trips are paid for, which is nice.
Q: What drew you to this company? What does your day-to-day look like? Did you feel prepared?
A: Yesterday was my first day. I'm only on day two. So right now, it's a lot of onboarding. I am currently learning about the company and my role in it. I had a bit of anxiety before starting because it is important to work and new to me. The company creates products to prevent cancer. We work with labs, work with physicians, and create medical records and products that identify and prevent cancer. Finally, we create treatment plans for it. There’s a lot for me to learn but I feel like I have the tools to perform and interact with the team. I feel prepared because I worked with real clients in Career jumpstart.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give prospective students about the process of taking that leap into UX Design?
A: I think one piece of advice is to believe that you're able to do it. It might sound cheesy but if you believe that you're able to do it, you're going to do it and find your dream job. You need that to apply yourself and work hard. Even though the results might not be instantaneous. Imposter syndrome or fear could get in our own way. Don't worry you can do it. Just remember UX design is all about understanding humans and you're human. You can make a difference no matter what background you’re from. Representation matters and there is space for more diverse groups in tech.
Interviewer: Yeah you don't need a computer science degree or master's degree, just determination. We see people from all walks of life that are able to just change their lives by putting in hard work because it is hard work. I like to say that in every one of these videos, it's not easy. It's not a get-rich, quick pyramid scheme of sorts like you have to put in the work. But if you're willing to put in the work, we have a team that's here to support you in this process. So I'm really glad you mentioned that. Thank you for taking the time to chat today.
*This Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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Jamir Williams is an educator, writer and aspiring UX Designer. She likes her avocados in a spicy guacamole.