Miranda Mason has had a varied career, working in customer service in the nonprofit, telecommunications, and insurance industries. She even had a brief stint as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and then as a childcare instructor at her local YMCA in Kentucky. As a mother of two, Miranda wanted to work in a field that offered more flexibility so she could work remotely and set her own house. A creative person who loves to draw, paint, and sew–at the beginning of the pandemic, she made and sold COVID-19 masks on Facebook–Miranda wanted to find a career path where she could use her design skills and work with people. UX design seemed the right fit.
Miranda was one of the first Springboard students to win the Springboard X Blacks in Technology Fellowship, a program that awards a $13,310 scholarship to enroll in the UI/UX Design Career Track at a subsidized rate of $1,000. Seeing as both of her sons have chronic disabilities, Miranda is passionate about using her new skills in UX design to advocate for inclusive design.
I knew I needed to learn a technical skill because all of the roles I have been in were face-to-face relationship-building roles of getting to know customers and solving problems for them. These are important soft skills, but I wanted a hard skill that would give me more freedom to choose the lifestyle I wanted, meaning better work/life balance and income. Technology seemed like an attractive field where you could set your own hours, work full-time or freelance, and grow your income.
I've always been a creative person, even though I didn't have any formal training in design. In my last job at a nonprofit, I organized and launched an arts and crafts program for youth. At the start of the pandemic I got out my sewing machine and sold COVID-19 masks. I advertised on Facebook and grew the business through word of mouth. I wanted to find a career path where I could be creative and work with people.
Both of my sons have chronic disabilities–lifelong disabilities that they’ll have for the rest of their lives. As a mom, I have to deal with their disabilities and deal with society’s standards, which means they will go through the world in a different way than those who don’t have disabilities.
I've realized that a lot of digital products are not very accessible to the disabled community, especially for people who are color blind, dyslexic, or have some other type of disorder. People who are designing digital products need to think about people who are differently abled than themselves.
Yes. My sons have invisible disabilities, meaning their disabilities are not seen to the naked eye. They need to be represented as well. Just because a person may not be physically disabled doesn't mean they don’t have some other disorder.
Mobile apps are totally lacking in accessibility features, like being able to zoom in on images or hear the text. Wearables are not made for people who struggle with dexterity or mobility. Also, a lot of digital and physical products are not made to accommodate people with color blindness. YouTube has done a great job of enabling captions and allowing people to slow down their videos so you can hear them clearly. This needs to be implemented on more websites.
I loved that we could have mentors who would give us advice and feedback throughout the course. Mentorship is so important, but you have to make sure your mentor is the right fit for you. Also, the curriculum is set up where you learn one section at a time so you can make sure you’re not missing anything. I like that we have classmates we can talk to and everyone helps each other out and it feels like we’re all in the same boat.
I also like that you can reach out to an advisor if you want to change your mentor or need help getting caught up on assignments–they’ll tell you what needs to be done to get back on track.
My mentor is Manprit Kalsi [experience design consultant at Etisalat]. He's really knowledgeable. He has given me guidance on my projects. He also gives me a lot of real-world examples from past projects he’s worked on to help me understand new concepts.
It means a lot to me. This program has really helped me broaden my network and see that it's possible to do this. It's going to take hard work, but it’s achievable if you stay the course and learn the most you can from your mentors. Everyone has been really supportive and my mentors have been really good about giving resources and advice as I navigate this journey.
It means a lot to me to be black in the technology space where there aren’t a lot of us out there. No one else in my family works in the tech industry. Being the first one to do that means a lot to me. I also want to be able to show my sons that even though you have disabilities it doesn't mean that you can't have the same opportunities afforded to you as well.
I think the tech industry has to be more understanding of different points of view and ways that people can add value. Everyone comes from a different walk of life. I want to work at a company where I feel valued and heard and that I can help people through my work. Also, money can get in the way of landing a tech job because you have to learn new skills, buy software, and invest in a good computer.
In the past, a lot of people felt they weren’t smart enough for the tech industry because it’s only for people with degrees or those who have been coding since they were nine years old. But if we can humanize tech by using less jargon and using more plain and simple language, we can make more people feel welcome.