Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

At Bloc, we are dedicated to helping aspiring developers and designers achieve their professional goals. Whether you’re a current teacher looking to become a UX Designer, or a product manager interested in learning more to progress your career, our mission is to help you succeed and provide you a supportive learning community. We’re thrilled to have helped Melissa and Kristen reach their goals after graduating from the Design Track. Congratulations to them and the other students we’ve had the pleasure of working with!

Melissa Jaen

Position: Web Designer
Company: PatientPop in Santa Monica, CA
Bloc Program: Designer Track

Tell me: what were you doing before Bloc?
I was a TEFL Certification Instructor with an MA in linguistics

Why did you end up taking Bloc?
I love linguistics and wanted to find a career that would combine the ethnographic research skills from my academic field with my love for design. I chose Bloc because their advisors were by far the most respectful, the least judgmental in terms of my wants and abilities as a woman, and because Bloc offered a part-time online option, which was integral to me as someone who couldn’t quit her job for a bootcamp. I also LOVED the mentorship aspect, and learned an incredible amount from my thrice-weekly meetings with my mentor, Chris.

How did taking Bloc change your life?
Bloc changed my life because it gave me an entirely new skill set that is marketable, that will enable me to work remotely one day, and that might even lead to awesome amalgamations of linguistics and UX, like conversation design, interfaceless UX, and working with systems like Siri and Alexa!

What advice would you give to other Bloc students that are currently looking for a job?
Just keep at it and go to the meet-ups! Don’t be afraid to speak out in Slack and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You grow so much through talking it out. Know that you get out of Bloc exactly what you put in, and be ready to live and breathe your field of study!

Which project (portfolio, capstone, etc.) are you most proud of?
http://www.melissajaen.com/aqui.html

Kristen Stevens

Position: Associate Product Manager
Company: Kasasa in Austin, TX
Bloc Program: Designer Track

Tell me: what were you doing before Bloc?
Product management in the health IT space at athenahealth

Why did you end up taking Bloc?
I was curious to learn more about UX Design and wanted to specialize my career in building front-end, client-facing products for users. As a product manager, it was important for me to understand at a deeper level the “how” that goes into designing and developing products people use. I believe these skills would make me a better leader.

How did taking Bloc change your life?
With the knowledge I have gained at Bloc, I now have experience in product, UX, and front-end development which is incredible in tech. With the skills I have gained, I can be more versatile and work better with the teams I lead and most importantly, how to empathize with users and build products that meet their needs.

What advice would you give to other Bloc students that are currently looking for a job?
Be persistent, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help or to simply learn from them. During this time I have used social media to make connections and meet with Product and UX Design leaders in Austin, TX. It’s incredible what you can learn from them and how learning from others’ experiences can help you decide which path you want to take in your career.

Celebrate the small victories! Passing your assessment, completing a section in your program, landing that first job interview. Being positive and celebrating these moments will keep you going when it gets tough.

Use the 100 “No”s to “Yes” method. Each time I got a rejection, I added that company to my list of company rejections and celebrated. Why? Because each “No” I received meant I was closer to receiving a “Yes”. It took me 23 “No”s to finally get my “Yes” with a company that has a great culture, strong community, and is a right fit for me and for them.

Which project (portfolio, capstone, etc.) are you most proud of?
http://www.kristengstevens.com

We couldn’t be happier to have had the privilege of teaching Melissa and Kristen. If you’re interested in design or development, reach out and learn more on how Bloc can change your life. Schedule a call with a Student Advisor today!

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