After several years working as a graphic designer for print and digital, Nicky Arthur took time off to raise her son. When it was time to return to work, she decided she wanted a design role where she could make more of an impact. One recruiter she spoke with suggested she think about taking a course to upgrade her skills, and that’s when she discovered UX design.
“What I love so much is the chance I get to directly affect the experience someone has when interacting with a product, service or system,” said Nicky. “UX is the perfect way for me to combine my love of working with people, research, and creativity.”
Before studying at Springboard, Nicky started a travel agency as a side business. For her capstone project in the UX Career Track, she decided to create an interface that would help travel agents like herself find suppliers on a single unified platform, and easily post travel packages on social media.
Now, she’s a UX designer for International Baccalaureate, a nonprofit organization that offers high-quality international education programs to help students develop future-ready skills and take control of their learning.
I discovered UX from speaking to a recruiter about my career path. After I had taken some time off to spend with my newborn son, I was really interested in a more exciting, fun, engaging career path. After doing some more research, I discovered UX checked a lot of those boxes for me as I was looking to get back into the workforce.
I didn't realize how much I loved research until I started exploring UX more. I was fascinated by the range of different research options you're able to perform as a UX designer, such as engaging with actual users through usability testing and card sorts, to name a few. That’s what was missing from my work in graphic design: being able to connect with users. I wanted to make a greater impact through my work instead of only creating digital and print media. People see it, they like it, but it stops there.
I strongly believe that learning and acquiring new skills always pays off. So, even though this would plunge me into a new career--which was exciting and scary--I just believed it would pay off. I wanted the opportunity to improve the products and services people use on a daily basis and, most importantly, interact with users.
This role is very special to me because it's my first UX role after completing the UX Career Track at Springboard. So, I was very excited to get this opportunity. Part of what I work on has to do with creating the UI for long application forms, which can be very complex, to say the least. These applications are lengthy in nature and one of the goals was to try and shorten them as well as make them easier to use. Other day-to-day responsibilities may include prototyping, problem-solving, presenting, and collaborating with product managers, developers, stakeholders, and users.
It was completely online, which gave me the flexibility I needed to be a mother and a wife and to learn on my own schedule. I also like that Springboard offered a job guarantee. This was important because it showed me this was a program that believed in the services they were offering and that they were not going to just leave me hanging once I finished the course.
I also liked participating in an internship (Industry Design Project) during the program. I really loved how once you finished, you had a complete portfolio consisting of a range of projects.
I wasn't hesitant at all because I had done my research. I’d compared several programs to Springboard and Springboard ranked number one for me. I really love the way the program is structured: you get a mentor, complete three projects and they’re all very different. That really stood out to me. I can't stress enough, having the portfolio was very, very important because I noticed with other programs, you finish the program with just one, maybe two projects. You definitely need at least three, maybe four once you start interviewing.
All of the projects were impactful in their own way, but my capstone project was my favorite. I started my own travel agency where I get to help people create wonderful, fun, exciting travel experiences. While working in the business, I dealt with a few challenges that slowed me down. So, I used some of these challenges as the basis for my capstone. Overall, I wanted to come up with a way that would help travel agents become more efficient in the way they worked. As a travel agent myself,I noticed you have to go to different sources to locate suppliers. I wanted to bring all of the suppliers onto one platform and give travel agents an efficient way to post travel packages on social media.
My mentor was Anne Pike (senior director of product design at start.ly) and she was amazing, very easy to talk to. If I was stuck on something, she was there to give me an example and point me in the right direction. With her background, she had a lot to offer and a lot I could learn from.
She was hardly ever short of answers, and if she didn’t know something, she would find out and get back to me. If I got stuck with an assignment or I didn’t understand a concept all the way, she would take the extra time to meet with me and we would figure it out. I really, really appreciated that.
One problem that sticks out to me is the boarding process. It always takes a ton of time. Every airline has a different boarding process. Without an upgraded ticket, boarding is a long, tedious experience. I think that's one area that could be improved. Another idea is while you’re on the flight, instead of having to press the bell to summon an attendant, it would be nice if you could order something on the app and it could be brought to you. It would be even better if you could set this up ahead of boarding.
The whole experience really taught me a lot about myself. I went through some challenges; I even thought about throwing in the towel during my job search because trying to find a job during a pandemic was very tough. Everything was at a standstill at one point and a lot of companies were not hiring. I even had moments of doubt.
This experience taught me to keep my faith strong. My relationship with God is important, so that definitely helped me through and reminded me to keep him first in everything I do. Also, to keep an open mind to new possibilities and opportunities to grow.
You have to step out on faith. You owe it to yourself. The only thing you have to lose is not trying. And, while it may be intimidating to step outside of your comfort zone, if you want to continue growing and succeed you have to be willing to do that. Don't worry about the naysayers and the negative things people have to say. You have to block those things out because it's going to be well worth it once you go through your journey.
Don't shortchange yourself and end up saying, "Oh, what would've happened if I did that?" Most of all, always, always, always have a positive attitude and learn to embrace your own journey.
I just want to say I really love Springboard and the program. As I said, I looked at several programs. Some were more popular at the time. But ultimately, when I looked at the program and everything it had to offer—a mentor, a complete portfolio, flexibility, a job guarantee—I was sold. Not to mention the tremendous support of everyone I came in touch with at Springboard. From the career counselors to the mentors, the student advisors to my peers. Everybody was wonderful and that truly went a long way.