Foundation in the arts, with experience everywhere else.
1. Started as an artist.
My father handed me a film camera when I was 10 years old and the rest is history. I became engrossed in the art of black and white photography and hosted my own solo gallery show when I was just 13 years old. I took as many photography classes as I could and went to a high school with a strong visual arts program.
I shot portraits, weddings and fashion photography for over a decade during my young adult years. Before Facebook, I was a pro user of the photo sharing site, Flickr; publishing nearly 15,000 photos on the service before archiving my work.
Even before going to college, I thought I would become a photographer and designer—studying at two globally-acclaimed art colleges: RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) for Industrial Design and SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) for Photography. I hadn't even graduated high school yet.
But as I grew up and learned about the challenges of being a freelance photographer at such a young age, and move towards a career in something related but more lucrative. I went on to graduate from Boston University with a degree in Film & Television.
2. Worked in advertising.
During my undergraduate career, I decided to feast my talents on graphic design and worked as a designer at multiple marketing agencies. I created hundreds of different online assets, just as Facebook Pages were being launched. I also created print graphics for large events, organizations, and concerts in the Boston area.
I lived in Sydney, Australia for nearly a year, working on marketing campaigns for food and beverage brands. And as I learned more about the inner workings of marketing and advertising, I became hooked on the power of well-designed and creative promotion of products. I moved to Los Angeles seeking work at a flashy ad agency, and I took my creative skills with me.
In Los Angeles, I became a video editor and worked my way up from editing TV Commercials to directing them. I worked with brands like Microsoft, AT&T, Whole Foods, and more. It was a thrilling time, but I wanted to work in an industry that was more altruistic. So after working in the industry for a handful of years, I attended the top school in the country for communication studies: The University of Southern California.
I graduated with a master's degree in Communication Management and worked briefly as a consultant for internal communication projects and published academic articles. But even with a graduate degree, I was missing the career fulfillment I once had with my past creative roles. Something was missing.
3. Pivoted into user experience.
For a change of pace, I moved back to my hometown of San Francisco and looked for a new opportunity that would build on my past professional and creative experience. Design was a consistent theme throughout my career journey and I decided to double-down by doing a 12-week UX design bootcamp at General Assembly in SF. I worked on multiple design projects, tirelessly put in long hours, and honestly slept very little.
Something clicked during the bootcamp, because I cultivated a strong passion around all of my coursework during the bootcamp. Soonafter, I was hired as a Senior UX designer at Asurion. My visual design skills assisted me throughout my previous career in advertising and I now utilize it everyday in my UX work.
Graphic design was fun to craft when I was younger, but UX design is enthralling both in the challenges it presents and the altruism, empathy, and communication skills it asks of its designers. While I'm not behind a camera as much as I used to, I still continue to take photos and respect the visual arts background and career journey I've taken so far.