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Student Success Story: Maggzie Walczak

ux and ui student sitting in her room practicing design

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.

What to Look for in a UX Design Course.

The world of UX  is a vast one – with an increasingly large number of specialisms and learning opportunities to choose from. But don’t let this intimidate or deter you, keep reading and you’ll find the top must-have skills one needs to learn when first taking the plunge, and key features to look out for in a UX Design course.

1. How to understand human behaviour (user research and testing)

A key part of the job is putting yourself in the users’ shoes to figure out what problems they have and how to solve them. This starts with initial user research and continues on to the testing of prototypes.  Here you will see where the user gets confused, if it takes them longer or shorter periods of time to accomplish certain goals, and if anything needs to be added to enrich the user experience. Constantly iterating and improving along the way.

2. Collaboration

It’s in the nature of the job to collaborate on a daily basis – unless you’re a wizard at design, code, project management, finances and marketing. Collaboration is an inevitable part of the design process.

Being able to collaborate is a skill employers always look for in UX designers. By honing this skill, you’ll be able to efficiently communicate with your clients and the rest of your team, and create a better product.

3. Time spent with UX practitioners

The life of a UX designer can vary from day to day. It is important to know what you’re getting yourself into before jumping in the deep end.

At Experience Haus our studio is based in one of London’s leading design and branding agencies, not in a school. Students come into class inspired by the highly dynamic creative environment, and are able to talk to agency staff as they come and go.

Instructors are also practitioners by day, meaning our students get to learn from real people in the industry and are kept up to date with the latest industry news, tools and processes. By the end of this UX Design course, our students will be ready to hit the ground running.

4. Real projects for your portfolio

Many UX courses provide you with a hypothetical brief to apply your knowledge to, but it’s important to apply your new skills to a real world problem with real constraints and real client expectations.  Adapting the theoretical process learned in class to the harsh realities of life outside, and not “go and design a new Amazon app” from the comfort of the classroom.

That’s why at Experience Haus we give each of our students a real brief from a local startup to work on for their final project, so they have a proper project piece in their portfolio when they leave, and the applied skills to match.

What you should do now:

– Speak to us to see if UX is right for you.

– Sign on to our Online User Experience & Interface Design Part Time Course.

– Get certified in UX in just 10 weeks.

At Experience Haus, we believe students should finish every course with the confidence to enter the field. We place our students in small classes (max. 8 students per class), and individually pair them with local startups to provide them with a live project brief to work on throughout the course. This means each student will complete a piece of work for their design portfolio.

Product Design Alumni Profile: Rich Osorio

rich osorio alumni profile experience haus

Tell us a little about what you’re up to now? 

I’m a freelance graphic designer; I’ve always been interested in digital design but my experience has been predominantly in print for brands everyone would know and smaller independent businesses. Since I completed the 10 week part-time course in Product Design, I’ve been working on some UX/UI side projects whilst further building my portfolio.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

A few factors helped me choose Experience Haus; knowing the classes would be capped to 8 students was one of the main reasons, as I knew it would be quite an intimate learning experience with plenty of one-on-one time with the coaches. In addition to that, the price, the industry experience of the coaches, and the fact that the learning would be applied directly to a real world project.

What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course? Do you think that objective was fulfilled?

My main objective for joining the course was to gain a better insight into the world of UX; the tools, the processes, and ultimately if it was for me – I feel like I got all three. UX is now definitely a strong contender for next steps in my career.

Product Design Alumni Profile: Chris Magoba

product design ux ui experience haus

Tell us a little about your current work? 

Before starting the Product Design UX/UI course, I had recently graduated from university and was working as a freelancer; and prior to this I had been an intern, working in consumer products for a multinational media & entertainment company. Shortly after finishing the course, I secured a permanent role as an Associate Product Designer for a fin-tech start-up. One thing I love about the role is that there’s lots of potential to work in different areas and learn from the wider design team.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

After a few days comparing different courses, I chose Experience Haus because I felt I’d get the most meaningful teaching and also the best value for money. The biggest draw, for me, was the fact that while studying on the course we’d actually be working individual on real briefs for real start-ups.

What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course? Do you think that objective was fulfilled?

The main things I wanted to get out of this course were general experience working on a project, end-to-end, in the context of digital products & service; and to get a better understanding of UX/UI design best practices. I also wanted something more relevant to add to my portfolio and hopefully make connections that could lead to job opportunities.

Instructor Profile: Aditya Tripathi

aditya product management experience haus

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I currently work as a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at VMware. My business area within VMware creates automation and tooling for software developers. There are usually referred to as “platform” or “DevOps” products. Previously I was a product manager here at VMware, and at Amazon before that. I was part of Amazon’s largest vendor business – think Prime but for large companies. In all my product roles, I’ve loved creating business impact with new technology, while delighting end users. In a previous career, I’ve worked in software engineering roles at a couple of investment banks. 

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

I learnt a lot of things about product management by accident and experiment. In teaching this course, my hope was to pass on my experience to others so they don’t make the same mistakes I did! So far my students consistently tell me what I’ve taught them has been relevant to them at work – so I feel like I am on the right track!

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe effective teaching requires a lot of empathy. You really need to understand your student’s context and learning styles to deliver your content effectively. I endeavour to understand as much as I can about my students through in-class dialog, so I can tweak my content and delivery over time.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

At Experience Haus, I meet a range of people – some are only curious about digital skills whereas others are actively looking at transitioning into a digital role. I love conversations with my students about the new skills they could acquire and what impact those skills might have on their careers. Enabling someone to make the right decision for their careers is something I really care about, and get to do a lot at the Haus! I also love how much I have to think about my daily work as a product marketer / product manager, in order to teach my classes effectively.

Startup Profile: The Float

the float experience haus

Tell us a little about your company and your current team 

The Float is a finance company founded in 2018. The business was started as a way to ease cashflow issues among freelancers by paying them upfront on their invoices while their clients would pay us in 60 days time.

The current team consists of Mike Garrod, a media professional with over 20 years of experience, and myself, Neeraj Dhanothia, a finance and operations executive.

What was the brief you gave your student at Experience Haus? What were they able to produce for you?

The brief given to the Product Design student was on testing the design of some new features we want to add to the platform in the future.

The student spent some time researching the market to identify the actual issues that we are looking to solve with the new features, researching the alternatives available and making design recommendations on what the new features should look like to be useful. The end result was a slick presentation that forms the basic idea that we will further develop to create the new features on.

How have you been able to use this?

We continue to stay in touch with the student, though the output is not yet in production. We plan on implementing her new feature and design ideas in the near future and will absolutely reach out to her when that happens.

Product Design Instructor Profile: Jon White

Jon White

Tell us a little about yourself and your current work outside of Experience Haus? 

I work for Cleo – an app designed to fight for the world’s financial health – as a User Researcher and I love my role. I get to talk to people about their problems and then help build solutions. Outside of work I do the classic middle-aged thing of trying to balance a family and home whilst also squeezing in time to play video games.

Did you have a specific goal you wanted to achieve before you started teaching at Experience Haus? Do you think your time here so far has kept you on the right track?

I’ve always been interested in sharing knowledge, either as a student or a teacher. To that end I wanted to be able to share what I know and help inspire new designers to create products that put the user at the heart of the work. I’d also like to think that I’m empowering people to think in different ways and be more confident in their skills.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I encourage everyone to learn by doing, not to be afraid of ‘failing’, and to always keep asking questions. I lead the discussions and teach the material, but I want every class to feel like an open space where everybody can learn something – even me!

What do you enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus?

What I enjoy most about teaching at Experience Haus has got to be the students! It’s so interesting to me to meet people with so many varied backgrounds and help them channel their energies and encourage their curiosities.

Product Design Alumni Profile: Kathryn Samson

Product Design Experience Haus

Tell us a little about your current work? 

I’m a freelance graphic designer, working in the industry for over 20 years, so I have a broad experience as a designer but have been very print based. I’ve recently finished the Product Design course, but I’m continuing the relationship with the company I was paired with during the course, contributing in a UX/UI capacity. It’s exciting as they’re mainly developers so it’s a baptism of fire, but the good thing is I definitely have enough mentors on hand.

What made you choose Experience Haus?

I actually found out about the Product Design course by Experience Haus through another organisation, Hexagon, who pair UX mentors with people who want to move into that field. Hexagon is a community of women and non-binary individuals trying to help others who want to transition into that space. My mentor there suggested this course and funnily enough she has recently been to the Experience Haus studio to present about online accessibility.

What did you want to achieve from your Experience Haus course? Do you think that objective was fulfilled?

I wanted to add to my design skill set with UX/UI design capabilities. I absolutely feel like i’ve now got all the tools I need to build my UX/UI design career. Because i’m continuing my work with the startup that I was paired with during the Product Design course, i’ll definitely continue to gain more experience and will also have a real case study for my portfolio.