Design Student Spotlight: Elliot, Natascha and Christina
Get to know our design students from the Spring 2017 Cohort: Elliot, Natascha and Christina. Right now, the students are half-way through the full-time programs. Here, they share their experience so far and where they want to be after their RED journey is over.
What did you do before coming to RED & what brought you here?
Elliot: I worked in a web design company generating websites for small to medium sized businesses. I came to RED because I wanted to gain another skillset and to start a more solid career.
Natascha: My previous educational training was in environmental sciences and science communication. Before moving to Vancouver in 2016 I worked in digital design for a science outreach charity in the UK, making technical scientific topics more accessible to the public through digital visualisations. After moving to Vancouver I continued with some freelance work in design while launching one of my passion projects; designing ethically produced textiles through illustration and abstract paintings, all inspired by natural forms.
Christina: I am currently a UBC student studying Geography- Environment and Sustainability. I opted to take RED because I wanted a change of environment and I wanted a break from the traditional education structure where I basically regurgitate information that I memorize on a piece of paper most of the time. I have always had a passion for art and design but never focused too much time on it so I thought that RED would be an awesome place to express myself creatively and learn to create my ideas digitally. RED resonated to me because they are student focused and I really liked the community that RED has and I could see myself growing and learning a lot from the instructors and the like-minded people around me.
If you decided on a career change, what motivated you to move to the tech industry?
Elliot: I was in construction way back and hated it. I did a bit of soul searching and realized that I was always a geek with a computer but merely saw that lifestyle as a hobby. It turned out that it was something I really enjoyed so I decided to make the switch into tech and turn my passion into a career.
Natascha: I love how fast paced, creative and innovative the tech industry is. This, as well as the creative challenge associated with an ever-changing environment, really attracted me to pursue a career in this industry. While in Vancouver I’ve met some very passionate people working in tech and they’ve inspired me to build on my skillset and change the direction of my career towards this industry.
What future opportunities do you see in the tech industry?
Elliot: I can see that the UX industry is going to just keep growing and growing. There’s so many applications for UX to be applied that I think that companies both large and small will start integrating UX into their processes.
Natascha: User experience design is constantly growing and improving as a design field. I think increasingly, companies – not just in tech – are seeing the advantages of the UX process and how it can benefit their organizations. This means it’s a really exciting time to be a UX designer as there are so many opportunities opening up across different fields. Having a background in biology and statistical analysis, I see many parallels between scientific methodology and the UX design process; from hypotheses testing to validating design based on real user testing and backing up results through statistical analysis. I wouldn’t be surprised if the future of UX design incorporates even more of scientific methodology into the current process.
Christina: I think UI has a lot of applications because it’s something that will always be a factor when someone is presenting an idea, product, brand or whatever they are sharing. I see the opportunity to provide perspective or insight through a creative means and to solve a ‘problem’ through design. The tech field is constantly changing and it is emerging as a prominent industry for the future.
How is RED helping you reach your career aspirations?
Elliot: RED runs a solid PPD (Personal and Professional Development) in finding a career in the industry and making myself more approachable to employers. It’s already been a few weeks and I’ve learned more about job-hunting then I have in a year.
Natascha: RED is providing me with a supportive environment in which to learn the principles of UX design. The instructors are knowledgeable and always there to help, the environment is welcoming and provides a safe space in which to make mistakes while you learn. RED offers resources beyond the UX course itself including, personal and professional development and career help. It’s amazing how much you can learn so quickly, something, which I think, is really attributable to RED’s teaching style.
Christina: RED for me has kind of been the analogy of not knowing how to swim and getting thrown into the deep end. I entered the program without any prior knowledge of Adobe programs or any type of tech or art background. This program has been my stepping stone into the tech industry and the endless possibilities that can be done. During these past four weeks, I have learned tremendously from the lessons and mentorship from my instructors and sharing ideas and working along my peers. At RED, they not only teach us how to use Photoshop, Illustrator or Sketch, but they also emphasize how important it is to have a good mindset and personality. One of the biggest lessons is that companies are not only hiring for a set of hard skills that you can perform but also how you behave or act in different situations.
What are your career goals after RED?
Elliot: To find work in a company that is secure and “fun”. I want to work somewhere where creativity is just flowing and that people love what they do. I’ve done the 9-5 grind behind a desk and it’s no fun. I also want stability for my growing family so a career that helps me achieve that is something I am very interested in.
Natascha: I would love to combine my previous knowledge in digital design and environmental biology with my new skills in User Experience design. My dream job would be to work for an agency or company that is committed to working with clients that have positive environmental and social impact.
Christina: I think I just want to get as much experience as I can in terms of design and tech while still kind of exploring the options out there and getting a taste of different fields. It’d be really cool to both work in a team collaboratively such as an agency but also explore working independently and being able to travel around. I don’t have any definitive career end goals but I think that the opportunities I will embark on will bring meaningful experiences that will shape what I want to spend my time on. One of my long-term goals is to work as a freelancer or remotely in a smaller town or city and/or travel abroad. Some of the next steps I will act upon after RED include diving into freelancing and working on some projects to build my portfolio.
What’s your favourite part about RED or the highlight of your education at RED so far?
Elliot: The feedback from instructors. Be it bad or good I learn way more when I do something and someone from the profession actually reviews it. There is also a lot of positivity that vibrates in these walls so it makes learning here both stressful AND fun 😉
Natascha: For our first two projects at RED we dove straight into mobile and website design. My highlight at RED so far has been using the knowledge and practice from these projects for our first ‘real’ client project. When you’re in such a fast paced environment you have no time to worry about whether or not you will succeed creating something great for your client, but instead jump straight into creating something, and trust in your yourself, with the knowledge you have acquired so far, that it will be great.
Christina: I think my favourite part about RED is that they are so open and receptive to feedback and they actually implement and experiment with lessons and teaching methods. They take the feedback and change aspects that are not useful or valuable for students and I love being able to see that take place. It’s amazing to see small and young companies grow as a result of feedback, taking risks and change. This feedback is also important for future students who will be taking courses. RED isn’t complacent, it focuses on REDefining education and like the tech industry, it is also constantly changing.
What has RED taught you about yourself or what surprising thing have you learned about yourself?
Elliot: I suppose that just “doing” the work has been surprising. I’ve read a bunch of UX books and spoke with a few UX pros in the past and it all seemed very intimidating. I found that just doing the work and taking it step by step has shown me that I CAN do the process and that the obstacles I see are all in my head.
Natascha: That it doesn’t matter what your past experience is, or whether you haven’t had a ‘traditional’ career path, you can always change where you’re going and that’s ok. Being with a cohort of students that have so many unique backgrounds and hearing the instructors speak openly and honestly about their very different paths in life, has given me confidence in where I want to go.
Christina: I think RED has taught me to be confident and to be believe in myself that I can achieve whatever goal I set. It’s taught me that I am capable of not being a tech idiot and being able to seamlessly produce valuable work using programs.
In an alternate universe you would be…
Elliot: Bob Ross. That guy is so chilled out.
Natascha: An adventure photographer, the kind that gets to hang off cliff edges while creating images of inspiring athletes.
Christina: A mountain goat 🙂
Digital Marketing Instructor and Content Strategist
Haidee is a digital strategist who brings over seven years of marketing experience to RED Academy. She graduated with a BA from Simon Fraser University in Criminology and English, where she developed sharp analytical skills and linguistic finesse. Though Haidee has worked in all areas of digital marketing, her expertise is in content marketing, digital storytelling and branding. She is driven by creating innovative content that captivates and resonates with people. When she's not working, Haidee is sleeping. Haidee enjoys a good nap.