How I Overcame My UI Skills Gap And Transformed My Career

CareerFoundry courses aren’t only for those looking for radical career change – we also get design professionals looking to formalize or further develop their skills.

by Emily Stevens on 7 December 2017

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This week’s success story is a little different. Unlike our Uber-driver-turned-web-developer Gabriel Aleman, Rachael Portocarrero wasn’t looking for a drastic career change. In fact, when she took CareerFoundry’s UI Design course, she was already a somewhat seasoned design professional. However, Rachael was conscious of certain gaps in her skill set; gaps which she felt were holding her back. Like many CareerFoundry grads before her, the course enabled her to take the reins and steer her career in the right direction.

Upon first glance, Rachael might seem like an unlikely candidate for the UI design course. Having worked in both UX and UI since graduating college, she already had plenty of experience under her belt. So what drove her to take the course in the first place? Despite her professional background, Rachael felt that there were gaps in her knowledge – especially when it came to UI.

“I thought it seemed like a comprehensive course to fill in any areas I might not know about since I didn’t get a HCI degree.”

With the help of her tutor and expert mentor (who she’s still good friends with to this day), Rachael finally gained the practical UI design skills that she felt she’d been missing. One thing she found especially useful was the hands-on practice with Sketch, something that really boosted her confidence when she re-entered the job market.

In Rachael’s case, taking the course was not about pursuing a new career path – it was about being able to excel in a field that she already knew and loved. Mastering the fundamentals of UI design gave her the skills and confidence to go after new opportunities, which can be life-changing in itself.

“I wanted my life to change and it wasn’t happening fast enough on my own.”

Indeed, the UI Design course gave Rachael a completely fresh start in the industry. After graduating, she networked and refined her portfolio “like mad” – and her efforts paid off. She landed a brand new contracted role as an Interaction Designer onsite at none other than Google. Despite being a short-term position, this was a career move she was pleased with; when asked what she liked most about the role, Rachael raved about the interesting and meaningful work she got to do, as well as the smart people she got to meet and work with.

“One of the best things about this role was the lifestyle – I got free food, shuttles and a gym membership – and the work was interesting and meaningful to me. Another great perk was the smart people I got to meet and work with.”

Rachael’s story serves as a great reminder of just how important it is to keep learning and building on your current skill set – especially within the tech industry. Armed with her newfound UI skills, Rachael is optimistic about what the future holds: five years from now, she hopes to achieve her goals of financial freedom, owning her own house, taking regular vacations and, above all, continuing to do something meaningful.

For others looking to change their career, Rachael has some sound words of advice:

“It’s not easy. Practice, drive, and “just showing up” are what it takes to make itsuccessful.”

What You Should Do Now

If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if a career in development or design is right for you—sign up here for a free short course in the field of your choice.

If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can get a new job in tech – connect with us.

Curious to hear from more CareerFoundry graduates? Check out these success stories:

by Emily Stevens on 7 December 2017

About the author

Emily Stevens

Emily is a professional tech writer and content strategist. She spent over a decade in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking. In addition to writing for The CareerFoundry Blog, Emily has been a regular contributor to several industry-leading design publications and wrote a chapter for The UX Careers Handbook. She also has an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster.