“The Best Learning Experience of My Life”: How Coding Helped Yulia Chilikina Sharpen Her UX Design Skills
Yulia Chilikina loved her job as Senior UX/UI Designer at the direct-to-consumer retailer Wine Access — but without a technical background, she struggled to stay on the same page as all the software developers. “I was designing projects without understanding how they would be coded,” said Yulia. “It was a major pain point.”
For years, Yulia had actively avoided programming by telling herself, “I don’t need it! I’m an artist.” But in 2019, she had a change of heart. Eager to gain technical expertise, Yulia enrolled in Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp. “I was ready to pick up some coding skills,” she said.
And that she certainly did.
Programming her future
Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp quickly became Yulia’s favorite learning experience to date. “While pursuing my bachelors degree, I had to take required classes that didn’t really interest me,” she explained. “But the boot camp was focused on specific skills that benefited me. It was very intense and very relevant.”
Community amidst change
Five months into the boot camp, Yulia’s class moved online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As students adjusted to the virtual classroom, instructors and TAs served as a constant source of support.
“They were available 24/7 to answer our questions,” recalled Yulia. “We started the boot camp during normal times and graduated during shelter-in-place — and that transition went super smoothly.”
Yulia completed the boot camp in April of 2020 — and already, she’s noticed its profound impact on her professional life. “Before, I struggled to be on the same page with developers,” she said. “But now, we speak the same language.”
At work, Yulia can objectively critique old designs through a new technical lens. “I look at them and say, ‘That doesn’t make sense! It can’t be coded.’ My brain works differently because of the boot camp. It’s really taken me to another professional level.”
And she’s not the only one who notices the difference. Wine Access’s lead software developer also appreciates Yulia’s sharpened skill set — and their relationship has improved as a result. “He’s more comfortable talking to me in technical terms now,” said Yulia. “I understand him, and he knows that.”
Beyond coding, the boot camp taught Yulia the value of patience and clear communication. Through group projects, she learned how to hone her problem-solving skills — constantly striving to find the right solution instead of the convenient one. “In theory and in practice, UX is about making people’s lives easier,” said Yulia. “I love that.”
Looking ahead, Yulia wants to continue collaborating with developers and deepening her technical expertise — and because of Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp, she feels prepared to do just that. Reflecting on her time in the program, Yulia knows one thing for certain: “This was the best learning experience of my life.”