After 14 years as a graphic designer focusing on branding and logo design, Carlos J. “CJ” Hernandez was raring to take on a new challenge. When a developer friend encouraged him to consider UX design as a potential career path, he found a perfect fit between his existing skill set and the potential to earn a higher income and challenge himself intellectually in an ever-evolving field.
CJ recently landed a new role as a senior designer at StellarFi. The fintech company helps people build their credit score by unifying every bill payment on one platform. So, when you pay your monthly Hulu subscription or phone bill, that on-time payment gets reported to the credit bureaus.
When he first became a graphic designer, CJ started his own design firm, Designer CJ. Since learning graphic design, CJ has begun offering UX/UI design services and expanding the business. Based in Austin, TX, enjoys boxing, kickboxing, and watching MMA fights, and considers himself a film buff.
My career was a rollercoaster before Springboard. I have a bachelor’s degree in painting and visual design, and I started my career in graphic design in my last year of college working as a junior designer at a print shop.
One of my closest friends is a successful developer. He also started his career in graphic design, making logos here and there, but then he started coding professionally. He knew I’d been doing branding and logo design for the past 14 years and was looking for a change.
He advised me to focus on UX/UI design, and that I would be a great fit because of my background as a visual artist.
I wanted a career that pays more and was looking for a new challenge. But I also wanted to find a field where I could apply the skills I’ve cultivated for so many years. UX/UI design felt like a no-brainer, and I really liked Springboard’s curriculum.
Definitely! My graphic design career prepared me for the job I have now. When you meet with a client, you must think like a psychologist and dig into their mindset to find out what they want. This is also what UX design is about: the psychology of building user-friendly interfaces. When I started at Springboard, I became excited again about my work for the first time in a long time.
Now, when I go to work I feel happy about what I’m doing, so I think it was a great decision.
I’m in charge of all things web-related. I design our landing pages and ensure our branding is consistent. I work closely with our developers on landing page design. I also create component libraries for other designers to use. I help our creative director stay compliant with branding guidelines across our teams. I also help our junior designers with their designs.
I really appreciated the pace of the curriculum. Springboard gives you exactly what you need step by step. The program never felt rushed. I got to take my time with each section, such as design thinking, UX research, and user interface design. Some of the other bootcamps I considered are so short.
I had a great relationship with my mentor. We had a good connection, and I felt at ease talking to him. In design, you have to be able to take criticism. My mentor would encourage me, but he was also quite demanding to make sure I was keeping myself on the right track.
Yes. In addition to branding and logo design, I now offer UI/UX design services. I approach everything with a user-centric mindset and a new appreciation for the meaning of design. I’ve grown a lot as a designer since Springboard.
Never stop learning. Springboard will give you the tools to start your path in UX/UI design and find the job you want, but it’s on you to keep learning. Don’t just start job hunting when you’re done with the course. Act like you’re still in a bootcamp. Find tutorials on YouTube, read articles and books on UX design. Do everything you can to deepen your knowledge, especially in the context of recent AI developments.
Also, focus on mastering one design platform instead of spreading yourself too thin. When I was job-hunting for the first time, I learned that most companies use Figma, not Sketch.
The mentorship. It’s so beneficial to have someone guide you through your prospective career path—someone who can give their unique perspective because they’ve already done what you’re trying to do. I think bootcamps are much more hands-on than four-year degree programs. Having a mentor who is passionate about helping you and who gives you real-life advice that’s not in the curriculum was the best part of the entire program.