Before Springboard, Allyssa Van Camp held down a slew of jobs but hadn’t yet found her dream career path. After brief stints as a childcare provider, front desk receptionist, and nursing assistant, she decided it was time to find her passion.
She discovered Adobe Illustrator, a graphic design software application, and started creating digital art late into the night after her young son fell asleep. When she learned about UI design as a career path, she decided to teach herself by taking free online courses, watching YouTube tutorials, and experimenting with design software. About a month in, she realized she couldn’t go it alone. She needed the structure and accountability of a full-fledged course. The mentorship and career services Springboard provided were a major draw for Allyssa, a single mother.
She also chose Springboard so she could study online while watching her four-year-old son.
Before Springboard, I had many different jobs. I was a receptionist at a kids' salon. I was a teaching assistant at an educational childcare provider. I worked in customer service. Once, I even worked as a laser operator at a manufacturing company that makes tripods.
I actually did not have a concrete vision. I went for jobs that would help me pay the bills, but nothing I wanted to make a career out of. But I never saw it as a problem because you don’t know what you want until you experience it.
My current roommate introduced me to programming, and that’s when I knew I wanted to make a living working with computers. That’s when I discovered Adobe Illustrator. I experimented with creating digital art and had so much fun with it. From there, I discovered UI design, and I tried to learn it myself.
After a month, I realized I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a proper education. I started looking for schools online, and that’s how I found Springboard.
The best part was that everything was hands-on. You’re not just reading about design concepts. Plus, I had a mentor with years of industry experience who not only checked my work but gave me advice on how to improve it. He’d been through all the ups and downs himself.
My mentor was Vlad Titus-Tudor [senior UX/UI design consultant at NEORIS]. Our relationship was really good. We became friends. He always listened and gave good advice. If I didn’t understand the reading material, he’d find another resource for me.
He was always patient when I made mistakes. He made sure I knew there was no such thing as a stupid question and was always willing to help–even if I asked on short notice or needed to extend our meeting time. I loved that because teachers at regular colleges don’t usually do that.
He told me to experiment with as many design software programs as possible, then pick the one I liked most and master it. So I chose Figma, and it has made designing so much easier because I’m not wasting time fiddling around with a new software program.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. My roommate is a saint. He helped me take care of my son while I studied full-time. I am very lucky to have him.
I would sit on the couch with my laptop to keep an eye on my son while he plays. I would review my reading, take notes, and work on designs. If I needed a break, I would sit on the floor with him and play games.
It was easy to find a balance because the program was completely online. It was easy for me to be a student and a mom, which was really important.
The flexibility was a big contributing factor because my son is only four and was on lockdown during COVID until he got vaccinated. I knew I needed to find an online school so I could care for him and have the freedom to be the mom he needed.
The job search is always hard, but another reason I chose Springboard is the career coaches. They not only help you prepare for job interviews but find the right openings. That was a major factor for me.
I’ve had three meetings with my current coach. At the first meeting, we introduced ourselves. She wanted to get a feel for where I currently was. In the second meeting, we discussed cover letters and resumes. She recommended having my mentor review my portfolio to ensure it was up to par for recruiters.
She advised me on how to optimize my LinkedIn profile and other ways to find jobs aside from job boards. In our last meeting, we discussed my most recent job application and strategy.
My teammates were amazing. We were in constant communication, and we didn't hold anything back. The client doesn’t know what they want 100% of the time, so being able to talk to other designers and developers made things much easier.
Our client was Mizaru, a platform that matches support workers for people with disabilities. We were asked to correct some mistakes made by their previous design team. Our client was flip-floppy and changed his mind a lot. My Springboard mentor, Vlad, told me this is common in the real world. So, this was a perfect introduction to handling on-the-job situations.
If I had questions, I would email my mentor. If I needed to take a break so I could focus on a difficult project, all I had to do was email my student advisor. I constantly communicated with people who could help, and they made it as stress-free as possible.
I created a virtual library app to help children with their studies. As a student myself, this project was very personal. The app lets you search for books, download them onto your phone, or request to pick up the book at any library of your choice.
Because I’ve worked in customer service, I know how to interview users. I know how to make them feel comfortable enough to reveal their opinions. I know how to be both a team player and a team leader, which is really important in design. Sometimes, you must take charge; other times, you listen to others and follow their lead. I’ve learned to accept and give criticism as gracefully as possible, which isn’t easy.
The biggest thing is that I’m finally in a field I’m happy with. The other jobs I’ve had helped me pay the bills and ensure we could eat that week, but nothing excited me. For the first time, I’m in a field where I can see myself here for the next five or ten years. I’ve never had that feeling before, and it’s amazing.