Student Success Story: Valerie Liuim
Valerie completed our Online UX & UI part-time course in April 2021 and has since managed to secure a Senior UX & UI Designer role at BBH London.
We caught up with her to see what she has been up to since completing her course and how the course helped her achieve her goals.
Looking back before you joined the course at Experience Haus, can you tell us a little bit about what you were up to and what led you to consider a course in UX/UI design?
I studied Graphic Design and Art Direction in Milan and my first two jobs were in that field, but then somehow I started doing something completely different and was working as a data analyst and taxonomist. While working in that industry I realised I wanted to go back to something related to design, but I was trying to understand what I really liked to do because working as a graphic designer wasn’t what I wanted to do in life. So then I researched a bit, realised UX and UI design could be the right career path for me and I came across Experience Haus, and it seemed like a really good opportunity.
How did you come across Experience Haus? What made you choose to study with us?
I think the first time I saw Experience Haus was through an Instagram ad so I clicked the link and went through to the website. I got in touch with the team and compared this option to others like General Assembly and Career Foundry and found it to be the most reasonable in terms of price and the fact the classes were live. I wanted to be sure I was going to start and finish something, rather than sign up for a course that was ‘do it at your own pace’ which I never would have completed!
Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?
I wanted to have a portfolio and at least one case study from this course. I also wanted to meet people who were in the same field that could help me and I could collaborate with.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
I really liked the fact we were divided into smaller groups. This meant you could get involved in lots of parts of the project and be really hands-on, which you wouldn’t get if you were part of a big group. You could also really get to know the other members of your team and that was helpful.
You also felt like you were part of something by taking part in a live class, rather than a recorded session. With lockdown and people still working from home, this was a nice reason to meet new people and see other people’s faces, even if it was on camera!
What was your one big takeaway from the course?
Something that helped me was the fact our teacher pushed us to follow up with the client, and that led to something really useful because our group started collaborating with the client even after the course finished. It helped us portfolio-wise, skills-wise and mentor-wise. We were also pushed to do things we hadn’t even learned on the course!
Turning now to your time post-course… Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since the course finished? What sort of things were you working on that led you to securing your recent UX Research & Strategy Project Coordinator role?
I knew that having one project in my portfolio wasn’t going to be enough – I needed at least 3 – so it was good to be part of a community that were all doing the same thing. For example, having the Slack channel where you could ask people to collaborate on projects was incredibly useful as I took up an offer to help. As well as continuing to work with our client, Sophia and I also started working with Amit on his Accelerator programme and that just came about as a message on Slack. Someone proposed it on the channel and I said I was available. We worked as a good team and it really helped us create another client project to add to our portfolios which would help us secure a job.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your new role entails?
I’m working in a creative agency for an automotive client. Currently we’re just improving some of their web pages because they migrated from one platform to another. I’m doing things like user journeys, re-designs, image improving, all these types of things, which is great as I never thought I’d be able to start working straight away in a more senior position. I started the course towards the beginning of the year but they thought my projects were really high quality, especially my Experience Haus project, and that meant I was lucky enough to land this type of job.
Just to say, there is a lot of demand in this field and as soon as you put your Experience Haus certificate on your LinkedIn or CV it shows employers you do have the skills they’re looking for. As soon as I posted my Experience Haus certificate, I had recruiters messaging me every day with new roles.
Have you stayed in touch with your instructor or fellow Hausmates?
Sophia and I became really good friends and working partners since we did the course and other projects together. We talk to each other almost every week just to see what we’re doing, how we can help each other, kind of like ‘friend mentors’ so we can grow and improve together.
Do you have any advice, or nuggets of wisdom for any one trying to break into the industry – anything you wish you had known beforehand?
As soon as you realise what you really want to do, you need to dedicate all your time and effort to that, whether it’s reading books, looking up articles on Medium, or speaking to people in that field. All these things are really important because once you’re in and have the right contacts, you’re just navigating yourself in the right direction. Once you do all this you will get to the point you want to get to. You can’t just wait for someone to offer you a job, you need to go out and be proactive about it. It is time consuming, however – 3 months before I got my job I didn’t have one free evening! I was spending all my time working on the projects and finishing my portfolio.
When I first sent my portfolio and CV to this position I was applying for, I thought they both had to be perfect. Initially I didn’t want to send it because it wasn’t a finished website, it was just a PDF, but then I thought ‘you know what, I have nothing to lose, let’s try.’ And it actually worked! I thought I had to have the perfect website, the greatest design, but in my experience people cared more about the content than the actual website or format, so even if you don’t have something perfect, still send it out and you never know what might happen.