While working as a QA tester for a healthcare software company, Flo Chan found herself collaborating frequently with UX designers while performing usability tests. While she liked certain aspects of her job, like problem-solving and working on user-centered tasks, her work started to feel repetitive and she didn’t think there was any growth potential. Now, she’s discovered a new career path that has all the aspects she loved about her previous job and so much more.
Flo is a product designer at Zola, an online wedding registry, wedding planner, and retailer. She loves that her new role enables her to be more creative. As a designer, she’s passionate about creating seamless, user-friendly e-commerce experiences.
Students enrolled in Springboard’s UI/UX Design Career Track are required to complete an Industry Design Project–a four-week internship with a real-world client. Flo was paired with a company called The Great British Exchange, an online marketplace that helps mom-and-pop British brands reach a global audience. The company had partnered with major retailers to organize popups in retail stores to promote small businesses, and Flo helped create an internal scheduling tool to coordinate with vendors.
“Their current tool wasn’t very user-friendly, so my partner and I were brought on to improve the user flow and make suggestions,” said Flo. “We worked really closely with the product manager and we got to do a lot of work within four weeks, which was pretty neat.”
During the pandemic I started rethinking my career. I'd been with my employer for six years and I was thinking about what my next step would be. I didn’t love QA testing but I liked other parts of my job, like problem-solving and doing user-centered tasks.
That's when I discovered UX design and started looking at courses so I could switch careers. The pandemic made me realize what's important in life. I also wanted to move back to the New York area to be near my family, so if I was going to make a career change, I didn’t want to spend too much time in transition. That’s when I started looking at bootcamps.
My first job was working in tech as a QA tester, so I touched a lot of aspects of UX design. I conducted usability testing, and I worked really closely with UX designers, but without doing any design work myself. One day, I got to work on this really big project where I redesigned a feature in the app I was working on as a QA lead.
Early on in the design process, I realized, wow, I really like this. I also realized that I’m definitely more of a creative person in my personal life, so I thought UX would be a really good career for me to bridge my technical background with my creative side.
I love my new role at Zola. It's really fun. I feel like Springboard really did prepare me for it. There are a lot of things that I work on day-to-day that are similar to the projects I worked on with my mentor, which is really cool, and it's a much more creative job than I had before, which is really satisfying.
What’s unique about the wedding planning industry is that you often think of the products in terms of e-commerce, admin, or media tools. But when it comes to wedding planning, there are so many product categories. At Zola, for example, we have a website planning tool, there’s an e-commerce tool for wedding registries and shopping, and other admin tools. I get to work on a bunch of different products, which is really neat.
Springboard offers a fully remote program, so it was a really flexible option. It was also one of the more affordable options and seemed to have really good reviews on Switch Up and the other sites I looked at. I also loved the fact that I could complete an Industry Design Project and have one-on-one mentorship.
It was really cool. I was paired with another Springboard student and we worked with a brand called The Great British Exchange. They work indirectly with the reality TV show The Great British Bake Off.
The company had partnered with major retailers to host small makers and DIY artists to host popups in their space. Basically, their admin users needed an internal tool to schedule these vendors and make sure their applications were processed correctly.
Springboard gave us realistic examples of problems companies might need help with and then we would work on projects based on that. Designing an ecommerce website can be a pretty clear-cut process, but then you have to think about things like: How do e-commerce sites stand out? For big purchases like a bicycle, how do brands help people feel confident in their purchase? So I looked at a lot of other high-priced products from brands like Apple, Casper, and other digitally native companies to see how they sell big things.
E-commerce is really fun, because online shopping is something I enjoy doing in my day to day life, and also looking at different brands and how they market themselves. But I would like to spread out into other categories and see what I can do. At Zola, something I’m really excited about is working on website planning and information architecture.
Be patient with the process. The job search can feel like a one-way street when you’re not getting anything out of it. But once you start doing interviews, things can happen very quickly. Networking was definitely helpful for me. It only takes one connection and one opportunity to get you that first job. Even if you don’t get the job, it's helpful to connect with the person who interviewed you because they might move on to a different company or know somebody who's hiring.
My mentor was Tammy Guy, [founder of UX Alley]. She prepared me really well for my first job. She was my mentor, but she was also somewhat of a coach for me. She gave me feedback on my work and really made sure that my work was up to par, which is really helpful now when I look at the quality of my work and my current relationship with my manager. I'm really glad she was able to give me so much constructive feedback.
Probably my mentor. She set a very high bar for me, so I was able to produce work that eventually helped me land a job. She really cared about my work and how I was doing and pushed me in that way, and I’m really grateful to her for that. Learning on your own can only get you so far, but having a senior designer be invested in your growth and give you feedback is something that really stands out about the Springboard experience.
When I knew I was not in the right career, I would observe people I knew who had switched careers. What did they do? What path did they take? When you’re networking, Springboard encourages you to learn about other people who have done the same thing.
So I would chat with them and ask, "What was your thought process behind this?" Or, "Why did you move into this career?"