I want to be a UI designer.

I arrived in Silicon Valley in March 2012.
After one year living here, I can say it has been one of the most exciting years of my life, but also one of the toughest.

Feeling awful with no clear direction

I never thought I would live in California. Actually, I tough I could live anywhere but in the US.  I don’t want to talk a lot about emotional details, but let’s say it was harder than I thought for me to make this decision. I moved to Silicon Valley, after having “the time of my life” living in India for 6 months. And I was already missing my family and friends when I came here.

I came to Silicon Valley without a startup idea, no technical skills and no job. I only had my boyfriend, few friends and a lot of enthusiasm.

I started going to events, a couple of weeks after I moved, and it was like hitting a wall. I was feeling unconfident with my english proficiency, I felt everyone else knew more than me and the worst thing was that I was not sure what I wanted to do with my career!

Finding what I wanted to do and UCSC-Extension

Summer arrives, I managed to get an internship with Yogome Inc. as a Community Manager. And I must say thank you Manolo, Aleksa and Albert for making me feel part of the team and for trusting me to manage your community. It was a great time. It gave me more confidence and it opened a lot of doors. But I still needed to find a full-time job and get a work permit if I wanted to stay in the US.

So, by August, I found a way to stay longer in the US so I could keep searching for a job and also get a work permit: studying.
I did all the paper work with a tight deadline and started a Web Design and UX design certificate at UCSC-Extension Silicon Valley.

By September 2012, I had 6 months in Silicon Valley, enjoying all the events and all the “happenings”. And I finally found what I wanted to do: UI design. Discovering this gave me a shot of renewed enthusiasm and happiness, and a new list of objectives.

I needed to learn how to code in the first place, and tailor my marketing skills to be a good UX designer. UCSC-Extension courses are good and I learned a lot. But I realized their main target is people who are doing continues studies and the courses are designed for people that are working and studying at the same time, and this makes them slow for me. I had no time to lose if I really wanted to become a UI designer a.k.a. Front-end engineer by June 2013 when I expect to get my work permit.

The light at the end of the road

The hardest time was by the end of 2012. My boyfriend was also looking for a new job and  a new sponsor for his H1B visa. That meant two people in a household looking for a job and living from savings.

Being honest it was not that bad. Everyday we started doing the job search work. We were both also taking some online courses and studying different things by ourselves trying to upgrade our skills. And actually, working at home is not bad at all, you can have home-made food everyday and we spend most of our time together.
We were also going to all kind of events: recruiting events, networking events, training events, and everything else we thought was useful.

And some events were actually useful! It was in a meetup that my boyfriend met Michael Choi, the CEO and founder of Coding Dojo. Michael invited my boyfriend to their part-time web development course, and he invited me.
At the beginning I was a little scared. Becoming a full stack engineer in a couple of months? My engineer friends studied for years! And this guy wanted us to learn how to build, test, deploy and manage a website in a couple of months?
My expectations weren’t so big. I wanted to be able to understand the code and and maybe able to put a quick prototype website out there.

The part-time course was amazing, we got together 2 or 3 days a week and my boyfriend and I were so excited that we also were coding every minute we had available. After a couple of weeks I was starting my first web development project and it was an awesome experience!
My boyfriend and I developed a site for a friend in Mexico (Mexican travel site called Jalisco al Natural), and presented it in the Demo Day at Coding Dojo before the year ends.

In February, Coding Dojo full time bootcamp started and I got the opportunity to join it. And it’s been such a great experience. People in the bootcamp have different backgrounds, experiences and dreams. I found I’m not the only crazy one that want to became a developer.

I think I’ll write another blog post to go deeply into the Bootcamp details. Because there are so many good stories to tell and I have learned so many things!
I’m now programming in Ruby on Rails, I did a couple of projects in PHP and Codeingiter, I have designed 2 projects already on my own (besides “Jalisco al Natural” that I worked with my boyfriend), doing wireframes, database design, Front-end and Back-end. And I think this is only the starting point of a long, happy and fruitful career. And I don’t know… maybe as an entrepreneur or a founder.

I just know that today I’m happy to be here, I feel blessed to have so many nice people around and all the support and love from friends and family back home too.
I would like to give a special thanks to Ignacio, my boyfriend, for all his love and support this last year.

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6 thoughts on “I want to be a UI designer.

  1. Tamy…I thing you have the beauty of a flower…and the power of the good land….tienes todo para seguir logrando tus sueños. Bendiciones desde el corazon de la familia Camacho Gomez.

  2. Tamara felicidades por tu ánimo y ganas de emprender; te deseo mucho éxito aunque no lo necesites porque vas bien encarrilada. Lo mejor es que te queda mucho por delante y tienes todo para triunfar en cualquier cosa que te propongas, así que despreocúpate y disfruta el viaje. Abrazos desde DF

    P.D. Ya te habías tardado en publicar un blog

  3. Tamara me topé con tu post en Linkedin, y fue muy grato leerlo. Qué bueno que te atreviste a probar algo nuevo.
    Me recordó mi sueño frustrado de ser UI/UX designer, creo que un día me animaré y aprenderé a codear más allá de maquetados y CSS. Deberías subir posts de Ruby o PHP según tu experiencia, para novatos como yo 🙂

    • Perdona que me meta en lo que no me importa, pero puedes intentar aprender a tu paso, con calmita y sin instalar nada, gratis, en learnstreet.com codecademy.com o udacity.com esos tres lugares tienen excelentes recursos.
      Buena suerte

    • Coding Dojo fue un buen inicio en este camino. Aún así, los recursos que mencionan son muy buenos, y también los utilizo cuando se necesita.
      Por otra parte, no hay nada como trabajar en proyectos.
      Gracias por comentar! 🙂

  4. Eres una chica muy talentosa y con una inteligencia impresionante, te esperan grandes cosas! Siempre me estuve preguntando que hacías en US, no imaginé nada semejante a lo que narras, y simplemente he quedado impresionada por tantas experiencias.

    Felicidades Tamara!

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