Student Success Story: Maggzie Walczak
Maggzie completed our first Online UX/UI course back in May 2020 and has since managed to secure a Product & UX Designer role at PA Consulting.
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?
Before I joined Experience Haus, I spent a long time looking for that thing I wanted to do in my life and I wasn’t finding it. I was working on yachts for 6 years as a chef and travelling, really going with the flow but I did come to a point where I thought I couldn’t do this forever. I had always been interested in design, not so much in art but in practical, beautiful things. I wanted to study industrial design but it was out of my reach as I wasn’t very skilled in painting and drawing which was necessary to get to arts school. I was always interested in psychology – I have lots of books on it. When my friends look at my bookshelves, they’re like “what do all of these have in common…nothing!” There’s economics, psychology, design, management etc.
Back in 2020, I realised I needed to do a course in something, so I started looking at different jobs and found UX and thought “oh my god, everything makes sense, this is great!” At one point I thought about doing product management as I’m very organised but as soon as I found user experience design I thought it made perfect sense. It combines everything I’m interested in: business, design and psychology.
What made you choose Experience Haus?
I did a bit of research and reading and started thinking about courses to do and your advert actually popped up on my Instagram! The school looked super cool and the people who were there seemed like people I would hang out with (although Covid didn’t allow that to happen!) I had a call with Joe and Amit and just felt they were there to listen to me and what I wanted to get out of the course. I did say from the beginning I would be asking lots of questions as I was very passionate about this. I did go to General Assembly for a presentation on their course but they said they would cover certain things during the class which they didn’t, so I found them a bit untrustworthy. They also didn’t have a proper course syllabus whereas Experience Haus did.
Thinking about your time on the course… What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course?
I wanted to get as much experience as possible and learn as much as possible. I was that person that always had a million questions to ask! It was important that the course had a practical element that I could then add to a portfolio. It was also really important to be able to talk to people who were actually doing user experience and knew what they were talking about, rather than just learning the theory.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
There were a number of things I really enjoyed about the course. Working on a real client brief was essential to me. Learning things by doing them is the best way and practicing constantly. It might feel like you are spending a long time not getting anywhere but then one day it’ll all click! The support I got and all the 1-1 sessions I had were amazing. I truly believe supported people support people which is why I want to now give back to the Experience Haus community. I received so much support in changing jobs from you guys, from the government, from other people I’ve met along the way and now I want to give back.
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 Product & UX Designer role?
I was given a project to work on after the course that I was able to work on on my own. I had a lot of 1-1 sessions and that really helped me, and is one of the reasons I want to give back and become a mentor for Haus. I’ve been working at PA Consulting for 3 months now and I feel I’m ready to be someone’s mentor. I know what I’m doing, I know who I’m working with and I can dedicate that time to mentor someone.
Between me finishing the course and finding a job there was a long period of time and I didn’t stop learning and doing things and reading a lot. It took me a long time to find something I would be paid for and I did that through contacts. You never know which contact will help you flourish one day. I also made an effort to make friends with recruiters on LinkedIn – that’s how I got my current job! I was applying for lots of jobs and showing off my work. There was one recruiter I kept sending my work to get feedback. I applied for a job knowing I wasn’t necessarily the right fit but just wanted to say hi and show off my work and actually a lot of people reacted positively to this. Then in April she got back in contact with me with a couple of really good jobs that I was a good fit for.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your current role entails?
I’m working for PA Consulting as a User Experience designer mainly but they do encourage me to develop more of the UI side. I am also getting involved with research, strategy and stakeholder management. It is a great place to learn and grow. I’m really enjoying it as I’m constantly learning.
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?
Get your UI to a visually pleasing level first as this is the first thing people will notice about you, not your thinking – sadly. If you don’t have the ability to visualise your thoughts in more ways than just words, it’s going to be difficult to translate your way of thinking. Practicing this will always help.
Work on your LinkedIn profile, presenting it in a certain way, using the key words for the jobs you are looking for. It’s also really important to talk to people as much as possible. Find companies you are interested in working for, find an interesting article and talk to people behind it. Even when you join a new company, try and make friends with everyone, ask for support and ask for a mentor. It’s important to make yourself known. Talk to the developers and different people across the company as you never know when you’ll have a day when you are stuck on something and need someone else’s help. It can be really tough if you don’t have someone to look at your work and critique it in a constructive way. I have a mentor at my job who has helped me massively and now I can go to work being really confident about what I’m talking about as someone higher up thinks the same.
If you want to change your career, it will take a lot of effort and time, and you need to be prepared for that. But if this is what you feel is your passion then it is so worth it because it’s one of the most satisfying jobs. It connects so many things. If you like to be intellectually challenged this is definitely for you.