Making the Shift

This is part 3 of a 3 part series of the story of what it was like discovering a career in digital product design (UX/UI) and figuring out how to pursue it.

Making the Shift
Photo by Alok Sharma / Unsplash

I also shared a variation of this story on my podcast:


By now, I had transitioned into a full-time(ish) role with the health tech startup I was working for, and I had "finished" my bootcamp...or, more so, ran out of time. As I said, I wasn't working on UX/UI design projects in my full-time role, and that's what I wanted to be doing. I knew I needed to make that shift and aggressively pursue roles in UX/UI due to personal goals and other circumstances.

Portfolios are crucial artifacts, especially when starting out and job hunting. They're your space on the interwebs where you present yourself and process. I had been making portfolios since I graduated college, evolving them along the way. I used all sorts of website designers, from Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress, and some dabbling in Wix. At one point, I was purely using Notion as my portfolio site. Nothing has come close to Webflow. Yes, it's a little pricey, but it has given me the creative power to create a portfolio/site I control and am proud of. Honestly, Webflow has been the best resource for learning how the web works from a development standpoint.

Tien-Tien | Web & Mobile Designer
Digital designer in progress creating web and mobile sites and applications.
A SUPER old portfolio. The one I used when I graduated college. It's a little broken at the moment...

I began hacking away at the next iteration of my portfolio. This time it was more focused, and I had a better idea of what I wanted from my next role. I used one project from my bootcamp, the main project from my health tech startup, graphic design work from Designity, and a project I did for a hackathon.

Each project showed a little something in my ability and understanding of design. These were projects I was most proud of and could talk about the most at the time.

  • Bootcamp project - showing the whole design process
  • Designity/Graphic design project - visual design skills (real-world experience)
  • Main work project - understanding of HTML/CSS, systems, and web design (real-world experience)
  • Hackathon - scrappy nature of hackathons, team collaboration
Tien-Tien | Digital Designer
Digital Designer focused in UI/UX design based in Atlanta, GA.
My old portfolio

Interviewing again

Unlike the last time I applied to design jobs straight out of college, I was intentional with my approach to applying for jobs. I knew what I wanted and only applied for jobs in UX/UI/Product Design. I researched the companies I was going after. I was also more direct with my approach, reaching out to recruiters, hiring managers and following up even if I never heard back from them. I had questions for the hiring managers and scoped the company's culture to ensure I could vibe with them.

The application process was a lot more different too! I had various companies call me and reach out to me. I went through multiple interviews and had a few job offers by the end of my hunting process. In the end, I went with CallRail and began working as a Jr. UI Designer! Thank you to Michael (my manager), who had the willingness and belief to hire me and give me a chance. Since then, my understanding and practice in design has expanded so much.

Today

I'm not at CallRail anymore. I transitioned to another startup in Atlanta at the end of 2020. I'm now at Popmenu working as a Product Designer designing products for the restaurant industry. Why did I make the shift? That might be another article for another day, but I am thankful for my time and experiences at CallRail. I'm learning a ton at Popmenu, though, and feel like I'm in the "next phase of my career." I've focused on getting as much experience in everything, making my background a very generalist one. I'm at the point of defining my own beliefs, honing in on my design process and, more specifically, my design philosophy. I want to start focusing and narrowing in on the parts I enjoy the most and begin to "specialize" where I can.

The last four years have been quite the whirlwind to get here. Would I change anything? Probably not. There are parts of the process where I look back and have minor regrets. But I'm constantly reminded by my husband that...

"...everything you did before, contributes to where you are today."
Home
Digital product designer who jams out on creative collaboration, and intentional visual design rooted in human-centered ideas + strategic solutions.
My current portfolio

Part 1 - A Career in Creativity

Part 2 - The Grind


I love to learn about people's motivations and ambitions. I've recently been mentoring individuals who are pursuing a career in design. I'm always happy to talk to people who have questions, need practical feedback on their portfolio, resume, and/or interview, or need an encouraging word to keep pushing them forward!

Reach out here, and we can start the conversation!