March 5, 2020

Bridging the Tech Gap in Texas: How This UX-UI Designer is Blazing the Trail

Michelle has had an unconventional yet beautiful journey to UX-UI design. She started drawing at a young age and always enjoyed creating things. Although she was raised in a low-income Houston neighborhood where many failed to finish high school, Michelle was an exception. After graduating, she would eventually leave that neighborhood altogether to pursue a degree in toy design from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.

While at FIT, Michelle learned about the principles of user experience and user journeys. She parlayed this knowledge into her first UI/UX design role, working on projects at a small rapid-prototyping electrical engineering company.

“My start was to simply start, despite it being small projects here and there. Sometimes we have to create our own opportunities if we want to move forward.”

To improve her technical skills, Michelle commits to learning on freeCodeCamp, completing daily UI challenges, reading, and attending design team meet-ups. Fast-forward years later and Michelle is currently building a design system for a local startup.

Michelle is also a philanthropist and takes great pride in her community work with Code Park Houston, an organization that provides CS education for underserved students in the Greater Houston Area. She is helping Code Park to build relationships in Houston to obtain more funding.

Michelle is a recent recipient of the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Community Activist Award, where she was honored for her efforts in helping young women enter the world of tech and design.

Michelle is building a more inclusive tech community in Houston through her work with as a leader and social media moderator. Her goal is to bring people together to collectively work on design projects in their neighborhoods.

Michelle credits much of her confidence to interactions with inspiring women she’s met along the way.

“At the Grace Hopper Conference, I met positive women who were almost executive level in tech that inspired me to stay the course. They kept encouraging me. This experience has pushed me to be there for other women. Even if it’s just sending them a book, a resource, or introducing them to someone else.”

Because Michelle is fairly new to the UX-UI design world, she advises women looking to break into tech to find and lean on their community.

“Find local groups and meet-ups. Make friends with the people doing what you want to be doing. Talk to them about what they do. Participate in hackathons. It exposes you in a very quick way what it’s like to build a project. Then you can start building a portfolio and references. It’s a good way to stay engaged.”

More importantly, Michelle wants young women to embrace their authentic selves throughout their professional journey.

You’re never going to get anything done when you’re constantly worrying about what people think about you. I don’t wear heels, I don’t wear makeup, I don’t really do my hair. And I’m okay with that.”

Although the design world is constantly changing, in 10 years, Michelle sees herself as a director or building her own firm based around tech and art.

Originally published on Medium here via Wogrammer.

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