Amber Hicks’ five years teaching elementary school students left her “disappointed and emotionally drained.”
She loved teaching, and she loved the kids, but the work “still felt lacking in many aspects,” she said.
When she considered possible career pivots, the field that stood out the most was user experience.
“What first drew me to UX design was the artistic edge, the creativity through problem-solving, and the focus on improving products to better peoples’ experiences,” she said. “UX also parallelled so much with my teaching experience as both are about understanding, addressing, guiding, and solving human needs.”
So, the teacher needed to become the student. But which learning program was right for her?
“After searching lots of other options, I was drawn to trying out Springboard because it allowed me to continue my current job while learning and pursuing another,” Amber said. “Springboard’s flexibility and differentiation of content delivery drew me to this specific UX program.”
She started with Springboard’s introductory UX course, which helped her learn foundational skills and introduced her to Springboard’s mentor-guided learning model. “Having a one-on-one mentor to talk to, receive critiques and advice from, and simply discuss challenging topics with was insanely helpful,” Amber said.
Delighted by the support and structure of the first course, Amber decided to move on to the UX Career Track “with the huge goal of transitioning into my first full-time UX career,” she said.
The program emphasizes hands-on learning through mini-projects to reinforce specific design concepts and three portfolio projects, including the capstone project.
Amber’s capstone was a parent/teacher communication app called Loop-E. “My challenge was to create an all-inclusive app that eliminates the burden of teachers using multiple platforms for communication and increases family involvement in classroom happenings,” she said.
Amber also worked with a startup to do real-world design work as part of the UX Career Track’s unique Industry Design Project. This first-of-its-kind initiative pairs students with an outside company to complete a 40-hour project that solves a real business problem.
Amber was partnered with GenomEdge, a rising startup company in Silicon Valley aiming to revolutionize the genomics industry for college students.
“The team at GenomEdge took me in as if I were family and allowed me several incredible opportunities through analyzing and iterating their mobile app,” Amber said. “Working with GenomEdge was an amazing experience and I am so thankful to the GenomEdge team for taking me in, collaborating so eloquently, and being so incredible.”
As Amber completed her projects and worked through the curriculum, she had a substantial support system backing her up, starting with that one-on-one mentorship.
“My mentor, Andy, was absolutely astounding,” she said. “He challenged me, provided me with endless constructive criticism and feedback, and was always so flexible. I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful mentor that I know I could still reach out to if I have questions, concerns, or if I just want to chat.”
Her student advisor, Dave, also “made the course so successful and supportive,” Amber said. “Everyone that I ever needed assistance from was always prompt and caring. I cannot thank everyone at Springboard enough for all of the genuine love and encouragement!”
And then there was her “one-in-a-million” career coach. “Calvin always encouraged me, especially when I was feeling down or discouraged. He’ll never know just how much that meant to me,” Amber said. “Every call left me with a sense that I was making strides to reaching my goal of becoming a full-time UXer, and Calvin never made it seem like I was just some box to check off of his schedule.”
Amber’s work with Calvin led to her new position as a UX designer, which begins this month.
“The job search process was quite terrifying,” Amber admitted. “I am a total Type A and like to know what’s going to happen before it happens. So, this was a giant leap of faith for me to sign my letter of resignation as a teacher to pursue landing a full-time UX job during my summer break.”
Like any job search, there were rejection phone calls, emails, and letters. “Those hurt, no matter what,” she said. “Deep down, though, I knew that those rejections were just leading me to the place I was supposed to be.”
And now? “I’m incredibly ecstatic to say that I accepted a job offer right as I was completing the final unit of the course,” she said.
As she prepares for the next stage of her professional life, Amber offers this advice to anyone looking for a change: “Never be afraid to go for your craziest and biggest dreams! And, of course, check and see if Springboard has a course to help you make those dreams come true.”
This Springboard alum transitioned to a UX design career and you can too. Learn more about the UX Career Track, an intensive bootcamp with a job guarantee.