Angela Cerrillo is currently in the second semester of pursuing her degree in User Experience Design and she just landed an exciting new job with Zello, a push-to-talk communication app for frontline workers. I met Angela over g-chat to discuss her career goals, and any advice she may have for other students looking to start job hunting while they’re still finishing up their degrees.
Zoe: Tell me about your new role at Zello.
Angela: I’ll be starting as a “Bilingual Product Advocate”… In this role I’ll be providing technical support for users as well as gathering/synthesizing vital user feedback in English and Spanish to share with the team in order to promote continual improvement and innovation of the product and company.
Upon interviewing, the company was excited to learn about my academic progress in UX Design through ACC and in particular about skills I’ve already acquired through the program (in Professor Bahrani’s excellent Responsive Design course) such as HTML, CSS, accessible design and a comprehensive understanding of WCAG 2.1 standards. Furthermore, as I continue my education at ACC, the company will allow me to shadow and collaborate with the Design team until I’m ready to transition into that department.
I’m so grateful to ACC and their wonderful professors and faculty for helping me get a job with possibility for career growth in a field I’m passionate about–for the first time in my life. I really didn’t think I could land a product design entry level position until the end of this program. But, the program has given me valuable marketable skills from the get-go and I’m only delighted to continue growing my skill set and network through ACC’s UX Design program.
Zoe: That’s amazing! What made you interested in pursuing UX as a career?
Angela: Well, I got a biology degree and after graduating quickly realized that it’s difficult to get a job that will pay you a livable wage with that. So after years of grinding in startups and healthcare to get by, I took a step back to really look at my interests, strengths, weaknesses, and to make a new game plan. I’m a visual artist and creative person so I was initially interested in UX/UI due to the visual design qualities of the career. Then, I got even more interested when I saw the full scope of the field and possibilities to work in many different industries. It’s a growing field, well paid, and creatively stimulating. That’s everything I’ve realized I need from a career at this point in my life.
Zoe: UX is so interesting in that it attracts so many different types of people with different backgrounds. We have students who are entering the program straight out of high school, but so many others who are like you coming into the field after a career pivot. Is that something you’re finding at Zello? What are the backgrounds of some of the people you’re working with?
Angela: Yes, that’s so true! UX design is so interdisciplinary. You have everything from user research to business communications to visual design. So it does attract all sorts of people. Today was my 5th day at Zello, so I’m still meeting people on the team. The only UX Designer I’ve spoken to at length was actually in the UX Design program at ACC and has a graphic design background. So that was a great connection to make!
Zoe: Amazing! Our students are everywhere! You’re right that UX has so many facets to it. Which is why it’s difficult to boil it down at times. In your own words, how would you describe UX? (Tough question, I know).
Angela: Hmm..my vision of UX is constantly evolving as I go through ACC’s program. To me, UX is about understanding human struggles and needs and then coming up with solutions. Everything around us is designed by humans except for nature. So, UX is all about making our human-designed world better for humans. Otherwise—what’s the point?
Zoe: I love that! So you just started at Zello, which is so exciting! How did you get connected with this opportunity?
Angela: Yes, I’m stoked to be there!
I had been searching for a job for three months and got to a point where I began applying to anything and everything. That included jobs that I felt I was underqualified for but that featured a Product Design or technology aspect to them. I must’ve applied to over 200 jobs. So, I applied to Zello after seeing the job post on LinkedIn which emphasized their need for a Spanish speaker that could work at their HQ in Austin among other things. I got an interview by (in my perspective) a stroke of timing-related luck and was able to tell them that I was studying UX Design at ACC and about my career aspirations. They loved that and right away told me they were willing to support my education and training in UX. It wasn’t networking. It was just applying to hundreds of jobs and being at the right place and right time for them to see my application. Applying for jobs can be a brutal numbers game at entry-level. I feel so lucky!
But it just occurred to me that having “currently studying UX Design at ACC” on my resume and LinkedIn profile probably helped pique their interest.
Zoe: I understand that struggle of applying to lots of jobs! It can be brutal, but also amazing when you find the right fit! I’m sure Zello is thrilled to have you.
On that note, what advice do you have for other students who may be looking for work in their chosen field while they’re still in school?
Angela: My advice is to really play up what you already know in job interviews and on your LinkedIn profile and resume. If you’re already taking courses that are field specific, then you have an advantage! Also, job searching is crazy and some days it feels hopeless. BUT remember that all you need is one “Yes”. I got rejected about 15 times (after the interview stage!!!) before I got an offer. It hurts to be rejected but you have to keep trying.
Zoe: That’s so true! And to echo what you said, the fact that you’re taking classes is an advantage! So many students view that as a negative. But being in school, and showing that you’re growing your skill set sends all the right signals to an employer. Play it up as an asset!
Angela: Truly! I interviewed at companies that rejected me because they thought I’d leave once I finished school or that I wouldn’t be dedicated to them or their schedule. However, I was probably dodging a bullet by not working at those places. I think that any company worth your time will see your education as an asset!
Zoe: That is a good point. A big part of any job search is finding the right fit, and making sure the company also aligns with your personal values, which can take some time.
Last question, where do you see yourself in the near future, career wise? More broadly, what are your hopes for the future of UX Design? (Another tough one).
Angela: I see myself as a UX apprentice for a while, getting real-work experience while I study in the evenings. Over time, I’d love to work in the music industry as a UX designer.
As far as the future of UX…
My hope is that the industry attunes its aspirations to designing for a cleaner, healthier planet for the sake of the future generations of all beings. Already, this needs to be a key pillar of good design for any UX Designer.
Zoe: I think it will be your generation of designers who will foster that change.
Angela: Well, I hope I can live up to my own expectation!
Zoe: Anything else you want to share?
Angela: One last thing, I’m just a big ol’ goof so if I can do this–you can too! Please reach out to me if you want to talk UX, art, life or anything else!
Zoe: That’s awesome! Where can people reach you?
Angela: @ghoul.friendd on instagram! I post art on there from time to time too.
Zoe: I’ll be the first to give you a follow!