This content was created by Girlboss in partnership with General Assembly.
For the longest time, getting a four-year college degree was de rigueur if you wanted a knowledge-based job. But for the past few months, skills-based hiring is on the rise, where companies prefer tangible skills to a degree or a minimum years of experience. Want proof? Just look at UX designer Liniris Rodriguez’s story as inspiration.
“Because I have a non-linear education and no college degree, I knew my path would be a bit difficult but not impossible,” says Rodriguez, who recently started as a product designer at Microsoft. “My journey took me almost two years to get here.”
After working in retail for over 10 years, Rodriguez felt a calling for something more. “I was holding on to the comfort of knowing what to expect everyday versus finding a career that I would be passionate about. I no longer wanted to fear the unknown, so it was time to become uncomfortable until I was comfortable once again,” she says.
Rodriguez began looking into careers in tech when her friend, who’s a software engineer, suggested she look into UX—that’s user experience—design. “The balance between research, creativity and cross-functional teamwork was what I had been seeking,” she adds.
So, Rodruiguez enrolled in a 12-week UX design bootcamp with General Assembly, where more than 40,000 alumni from full-time and part-time courses have acquired the skills they need to make a career change or advance their careers in the fastest-growing tech roles.
How did she do it? Read on to learn more about Rodriguez’s story.
On figuring out her new career path
“Through my retail experience, I learned how much technology affects lives, and I thought it'd be great to fully immerse myself in tech. After a few articles and videos, I was convinced that I'd enjoy the field! It didn't feel like I would have to change aspects of myself to enjoy everyday tasks and to get the job done. Instead, my skills and personality would be useful, amplified and nurtured.”
On getting started with General Assembly
“I really liked how their website catered to past/present students, or those curious about becoming students again. I also knew GA has a great reputation. I officially decided to take the next step after speaking with a recruiter who was very transparent about the intensity of the program, but also encouraging about the positive outcomes. I hit the jackpot with my teaching professionals as well!
Because of my learning style, I knew I needed to take the immersive UX Design course, so I gave my two-week notice at work before classes began. GA sent me course material for review before our first day, and it was massively helpful. I would've felt lost without it since it was very fast-paced. The first thing I did was have a very honest talk with myself about what this journey was going to entail. I understood that GA was going to give me a strong foundation, and that a strong foundation is only as good as the work you put in after it's set. I also reminded myself that this field dealt a lot with giving and receiving critiques, so I worked on understanding that feedback is about growth and reaching a common goal. If I was moving away from my previous job, there was no going back, only forward. I was also very lucky to have a small yet strong inner circle rooting for my success, and helping me along the way.”
On the bootcamp process
“In the beginning of the course, we focused a lot on the stages of design, concepts, tools and implementation. As time progressed, we began working more on our team projects, and eventually, client projects. I really enjoyed how the teaching professionals created fun activities to help us work on our Figma [a collaborative interface design tool] skills, which paid off.”
On the key takeaways from the boot camp
“General Assembly helped me recognize sides of myself I hadn't seen in years. I believe as long as I continue to stay open-minded and receptive, I'll help create wonderful experiences in and outside of design. My biggest takeaway however, is that it's 100 percent okay to say, ‘This isn't working, let's go back.’ Unexpected moments will happen, and humans make mistakes.”
On finding a new job
“My imposter syndrome was pretty high [before the program]. Although I enjoyed every aspect of design, self doubt did creep in every now and then. GA did a great job providing us with resources, including access to a mental health app. I was able to land an internship at a small start-up, and the opportunity opened my eyes to how much I had learned with GA.
I had also been paired with a few career coaches who helped to guide me in the right direction. They asked me about my communication style, which I really appreciated. I received help on my resume, online portfolio and cover letter, plus they gave me interviewing tips. Even with their full plates, my career coaches responded with great advice.
Since then, I’ve had an internship at a small start-up, then I worked for Accenture. Later, I applied and completed the Microsoft LEAP program where I had the pleasure of working as a product designer with the Microsoft Azure team.”
On using her new skills throughout the rest of her career
“I learned the importance of thoroughly analyzing what I could've done differently with my design work/presentations, asking for feedback and then following through with said feedback. Also, making a list of my daily tasks keeps me organized and on a timely schedule. This is helpful when a team is figuring out next steps.”
On the advice she’d give to anyone who wants to take their next career step
“Change can feel terrifying, but you'll never know the outcome unless you try. Your journey is your own. Cheer for those who made it, and help those who are behind you, because your time will come. Feedback is seeds of growth. Last but not least, be comfortable getting uncomfortable, and then do it again!”Find out how you can make a career change with one of General Assembly’s immersive bootcamps by hopping on a call with an Admissions Specialist. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about finding the right bootcamp, understanding what the learning experience is like, what to expect after graduation, and more so you can feel confident in your decision to break into a tech career.