After Years of Searching, One Learner Finds Her Calling Through a UX/UI Boot Camp
After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, Saskia Mick worked a broad range of jobs: from waiting tables to designing floral arrangements to working at her local library. While each position presented opportunities and challenges, Saskia struggled to find a career path that truly energized and excited her — until she enrolled in a boot camp.
Based on her background in graphic design and fine arts, Saskia’s husband recommended she explore the world of user experience and user interface (UX/UI). After comparing curricula, she decided to enroll in Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp. She hasn’t looked back.
A new kind of classroom
In the boot camp, instructors dove into a broad range of topics: from coding to design, covering the broad spectrum of the UX/UI landscape.
When Saskia started classes, she was balancing jobs: waiting tables, working at a florist and taking shifts at a bar. With part-time, weekend classes, she was able to balance her schedule, showing up to the boot camp eager and ready to learn.
For Saskia, the boot camp was a collaborative experience, full of potential. “Everyone was excited to be there,” said Saskia, “and I was excited to hear about all of the instructors’ backgrounds. It felt like we were all a team.”
Turning innate talent into marketable skills
Growing up, Saskia always had a special knack for computers, but she didn’t realize that things that came easily to her aren’t always intuitive to others until she started honing those skills in the boot camp. “I started using a computer when I was six years old, so a lot of the skills we learned came naturally to me.”
Throughout the boot camp, she was able to double down on those skills, refine them and turn them into marketable assets she could really put to work.
“I finished high school before you could really learn coding in school, at a time when only a small group of people had the opportunity, and I felt like I never really did,” Saskia said. “That’s why I was surprised by how excited I got during the coding section of [the] boot camp.”
While coding was one of many skills Saskia took away from the program, it showcased her willingness to try new things and reach previously unimagined new heights.
Building new projects
The UX/UI boot camp is interactive — meaning students don’t just learn skills through classroom lectures, but through practice. As such, the learning format involves a series of group projects where participants get to practice their UX/UI skills, as well as their abilities to work with a team — a crucial component for success in the industry.
Saskia’s first group project was a food app that helped people with special diets — for instance, those with specific allergies, or people who eat kosher or halal. The app was designed to locate restaurants that could accommodate unique dietary restrictions for a simplified dining experience.
“Whenever I was in a group project, it always seemed like people knew what their strengths were,” Saskia said. “We all knew that the jobs in the field were different, so we were able to tailor our group projects so we could get the most out of them. For instance, I always got to do the storyboard.”
Through the group projects, the boot camp students were able to craft portfolios to highlight their skills and abilities when searching for jobs. Now, in interviews, Saskia can point to her group projects and the storyboarding work she did — an invaluable reference point to help her show what she’s capable of doing in the future.
Looking forward to the future
In January 2020, Saskia completed her boot camp experience. Looking to the future, she plans to work as a teaching assistant for future learners in the boot camp while applying for full-time industry positions. Saskia is deeply interested in issues of accessibility and hopes to explore them throughout the rest of her career.