Who am I?
My name is Ying Ying. Call me Ying. Chinese. 25. Female. What did I do on my free time? I drew. A lot. From middle school to university; I sketched, colored, illustrated, I even moved into Photoshop and started doing illustrations and small graphic design projects here and there. I went on to pursue a degree in Nutritional Research and Psychology at UC Davis with the dream of becoming a dietitian. I was going to teach families and kids on how to eat right.
… What happened?
Good question. I told myself over and over, I like science. I like nutrition. I love eating healthy. Of course I would want to be a dietitian! I did my fair share of nutrition research, interned at hospitals taking care of kids, and worked in several non-profits counseling children in nutrition in Yolo county (Davis, by the way, not the song by Drake). To tell you the truth, I liked it. Did I love it? Sometimes it was rewarding, hearing little kids laugh while listening to your nutrition. But did I love it? Not exactly.
“Ying. You got to push through this. You started a degree in this, you can’t back down now. It’s going to be a waste”
I remember telling myself this whenever I started doubting myself. So I pushed on.
I graduated in 2013 and I couldn’t be happier. I was going to do things. Share a piece of me in the field of nutrition with the world (or at least in the Bay Area). I got a job as a diet clerk at UCSF and then landed a job at Stanford Hospital as a dietetic assistant. I work with patients, consulting them on diets, communicate with a few diet technicians and dietitians throughout the week, I felt accomplished landing two jobs in nationally recognized hospitals. But you know what was interesting? I noticed myself becoming unhappier as the years went by. I noticed the spark that pushed me to want to become a dietitian disappear. I started becoming lost. I hated going to work every day. Talking to patients was still a humbling experience, don’t get me wrong. Being able to help them in any way is amazing to me, even if some days I felt like pulling my hair out. But after everything, bottom line is that I felt lost.
I realized this. Healthcare is an amazing field, no doubt about it. But it isn’t for me.
It was the 2015 when I began retrospecting. I’ll save you all the messy details but basically… I hated (strong word, I know) my job, went through low-key depression dealing my break up, and I noticed that I didn’t know who I was anymore. What happened to the girl that was so happy before entering the work force? How come I wasn’t loving what I was doing? Why wasn’t I loving it? What happened to my individuality and my independence? What the hell do I actually want to do in my life? I want to leave an impression. I want to be happy with what I’m doing. I had this slight imposter syndrome paired with watching peers succeed and push towards what they wanted to do.
Exploring who I was
What did I do throughout this whole time? I drew. I did several graphic design projects for people who were willing to let me work for them. I even bought a Cintiq HD Tablet (VERY pricey tablet by the way…) to continue on with my illustrations. My passion for drawing and design, that randomly disappeared when I got too busy in university, came back.
I did that typical millennial thing millennials do, travel to explore themselves. Cliche, right? I went on solo trips to Boston and New York and traveled to Taiwan and Japan alone to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in a year. Needless to say, I became more independent through all these experiences. I learned to be okay with being myself and exploring by myself.
2015 was the year I told myself I knew I had to change the path I was going. I didn’t want to be that person in my 30s and end up hating my job. I began exploring my options. I thought I wanted to go into customer service so I applied to several jobs in that field. That failed. I, then, tried to pursue a career in public relations. Needless to say, that failed too. Late 2015 I started questioning myself again on what the hell was I doing. Why am I being so random with these job applications? Did I really want to go into PR? Customer Service? What real reasons do I have?
The whole time, I found myself back to my sketch books drawing to calm myself.
Months past again and I started talking to people and reconnecting with old friends and listening to their stories. Then I found the career of UI/UX design.
I remember googling “What is UI/UX design”
“UX Designers are primarily concerned with how the product feels. A given design problem has no simple right answer.”
Feels? What. There’s a field focused on how a product is designed and how it interacts with people? I did some more research and I’m glad I did.
UI/UX Designers are concerned with thought processes, design based on logic and flow… creating wireframes and mock ups to produce human-centered deliverables. Amazing. So where do I go from here? Through several months of debating, I fought with myself on the reasons why I should pursue this field. Then it hit me. I love drawing, I love creating pieces for people, I love using art to portray my emotions, I love finding ways to express myself. I want to show people what I can do, I want to make people happy through design, I want to create things people can use and understand.
It was decided. I told my boss at Stanford I needed to take Monday-Fridays off and I started my 10-week bootcamp at General Assembly while juggling work on every weekend. It was tough.
Through this, the instructors at GA taught me everything from basic design principles to being forced to think outside the box to create elegant user experiences. They also taught me to ask myself, why do I want to become an UX designer? What can I show and prove to the world that I’m a qualified candidate? Of course, I spent hours after class learning skills on my own and finding ways to incorporate pieces of my personality into the design process. I can honestly say I fell in love with UI/UX design.
I remember staying on campus until 7PM every day working on perfecting my wireframes. I remember trying to sketch perfect…sketches because I wanted a clear idea of what I was going to design. I remember putting so many post-its on the wall, it looked like a rainbow exploded on the walls of GA. I remember getting into small confrontations with my team members, trying to figure out the logistics and flows of our problem and solution. I remember taking the extra time and working on solo projects, creating pixel perfect mock up interfaces because I wanted to show people I can do what an already experienced UX Designer can do.
If you were to ask me why I want to be an UI/UX designer…
It’s because for once, after so long, I am loving what I’m doing. I love creating experiences that you’ll fall in love with. I love the research that comes with the design process. I love the frustration and struggles, from finding the best way to go about the research, creating personas and getting the perfect user flow, to sitting on my computer for 4+ hours just wireframing making sure everything makes sense. I love the communication I have with my instructors and other designers. I love listening to experienced UX designers and their stories into this field. I love seeing the final product and discovering all the work that went into it. I love seeing something on paper, get turned into something beautiful. I love the human ability to design. To create for other people. To use technology to make experiences better for everyone.
I love how my personality fits into this field so well. I find myself to be very self aware of myself and I feel the need to empathize with people. I feel that the need to understand one another is essential to moving onto a better future. I love being able to figure out user problems, frustrations, and discover their underlying motivations and what are they looking for. I love that “a hah” moment when I figured out what a possible solution could be and begin the step of designing a user flow to make sure it’s a logical thought.
I love the way UI/UX design ties both my backgrounds into one. I love how I can utilize my knowledge in scientific method to approach design research methods which allow me to quickly analyze and address UX problems. I love how I can use my visual background to create elegant experiences you’ll fall in love with, one interface at a time.
For once, in many years, I feel at home.
I thank my passion for art, my experience with conducting research in university, my trial and error with nutrition, my 2015 retrospection year, and General Assembly UXDI May-July 2016 cohort and instructors for helping me figure out what I want to do in life.
As I move into the work force of UI/UX design, I hope to bring all my experiences to my future team members and work together to design beautiful user experiences.
I’m currently pursuing full time, contract, or freelance opportunities.
By the way, if you haven’t yet… check out my portfolio.
I think you’ll like it (: Critiques are more than welcome!