“You Have a Place in This Industry”: How Adobe and Treehouse Are Opening Up New Career Opportunities in UX Design

Patrick Faller
Feb 5, 2019 · 6 min read

Treehouse is a ‘bootcamp’-style tech education company that has made a big impact in the lives of many aspiring developers; in addition to teaching students foundational skills to help them score their first job as a developer, the company works with big employers to help individuals from traditionally oppressed groups access opportunities that previously seemed out-of-reach through its TalentPath program. Now, Treehouse is breaking into user experience design with its new UX Techdegree, and the company has turned to Adobe to take part in the next round of TalentPath.

TalentPath student participants (from left to right): Nicole Mont, Veda Ogbe, Anthony Couvson, Jerah Williams, Ranisha Evans, and Antoinique Hawkins. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

“The creation of a UX Techdegree invites a new and historically oppressed audience into careers in tech. We wanted to send a message: Working in tech isn’t just about writing code. It is important to us to showcase that a technical career doesn’t mean you have to be a developer, but is inclusive of a range of different talents,” said Ryan Carson, CEO and founder of Treehouse.

“If you have an empathetic curiosity and love the products that you interact with all day long, you have a place in this industry.”

TalentPath students, Treehouse, and First Place for Youth teams excitedly enter Adobe’s San Francisco office for the program kick-off event. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

At an announcement event at Adobe’s San Francisco office, Colleen Showalter, Treehouse’s director of TalentPath, along with several members of the Adobe Design team welcomed six talented young designers. These designers are all enrolled in the UX Techdegree, learning industry-standard skills and tools (like Adobe XD) in the hopes that they can transition to full-time work in UX design, and they will all be considered for internship placements at Adobe. The excitement on their faces, and their devotion to making a difference in this world through design, reflects both where they’ve come from and where they’re heading as they embark on their careers.

From foster care to self-sufficiency in the UX design industry

All of the TalentPath participants are members of First Place for Youth. Based in San Francisco and Oakland, California, the organization helps 18–24-year-olds transition out of the foster care system. The charity places importance on self-sufficiency; while many of these young people have faced adversity and setbacks in their lives, they have worked hard with First Place for Youth to set themselves up for success in adulthood.

Sadly, it often isn’t enough to just work hard to break into tech’s lucrative career paths; Ryan Carson says many of these young people have traditionally been “systematically boxed out of opportunities.” That’s why it’s important for Treehouse, and Adobe, to offer a career pathway to these aspiring designers, however possible. In addition to considering them for apprenticeships within the company, Adobe Design team members will work with the students as mentors throughout their UX Techdegree coursework.

“Diversity means giving opportunity to people with different backgrounds and that includes the socio-economic realm, which people often forget about when discussing diversity,” said Jamie Myrold, Adobe’s vice-president of design, who adds taking part in the program benefits Adobe greatly as well.

Treehouse, First Place for Youth, and Adobe: Coming together to create more opportunities to break into design for those who have faced adversity and challenges in life. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

“Adobe is committed to diversity. It’s not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense. When you’re developing and designing products that touch hundreds of millions of people every day, having a diverse team helps ensure global impact for your products. I think the apprentices, being mobile and digital natives, will help keep us on the path of delivering products that expand our reach beyond the pro and into the mainstream.”

Treehouse is certain these apprentices will do just that; Ryan says they all come from very unique backgrounds, where they have overcome adversity, and are poised to bring a diverse wealth of personal experience to the projects they’re assigned. In the past, many of Treehouse’s apprentices, assigned to companies through the TalentPath program, have gone on to become full-time employees crafting the products of today and tomorrow.

How the UX Techdegree and TalentPath program reflects the state of modern UX design

As they take part in the UX Techdegree program, the students will learn UX design concepts and skills, like wireframing, prototyping, user research, and more. Over the three-to-six months they take to complete the program, they’ll complete projects that have them applying both hard and soft skills to real-world use cases. At the end of it all, they’ll have a full portfolio of professional-quality projects. “We wanted to provide the education and tools required to learn the skills they need and to create the space for them to thrive,” said Ryan, explaining how Treehouse mentors students throughout their studies and into their apprenticeships through the Talentpath program.

Ian Miller, lead senior experience designer, provides insight on what it’s like to work at Adobe and shares how he found his passion for UX design. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

For Khoi Vinh, Adobe’s principal designer, the opportunity to play a part in the UX Techdegree’s growth and support its goal of making a well-paying career in UX design accessible to all talented designers is more than just the right thing to do. He says it bodes well for the future of the industry.

“It’s important for where design is going. In order for design as a profession to successfully navigate the massive technological change that we’ll see in the next few decades, we need more diverse voices and teams, different perspectives on how to create the best possible solutions,” he said.

TalentPath students ask a panel of Adobe Design, First Place for Youth, and Treehouse team members questions about what to expect from pursuing a career in tech. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

“Adobe is uniquely situated to do this because we are creating the tools that the next generation of designers will use to sculpt that future, and so for us it’s both an opportunity and a responsibility.”

More to come from these talented apprentice UX designers

As the TalentPath program progresses, we’ll share some of the students’ stories and their work right here on the Adobe design blog. By showcasing these aspiring designers, the team at Adobe hopes they can contribute to the goals of Treehouse to open up these paths to successful careers in tech, while tapping new talent pipelines for the best new designers from diverse backgrounds.

“We hope that our partnership with Adobe will bring visibility to the UX career path and the UX Techdegree,” said Treehouse’s Ryan Carson.

Nicole Mont and Veda Ogbe say they are thrilled and inspired by the exciting possibilities following their completion of the TalentPath program. Image credit: Myleen Hollero Photography.

“Adobe is the global leader in design. This is our joint first step in a long-term process of building talent and creating opportunities in the design and tech fields for people from all backgrounds. The awareness that is generated by this partnership will lead to more interest and access to historically oppressed groups.”

Learn about Adobe XD, our all-in-one design and prototyping tool:

Originally published at theblog.adobe.com on February 5, 2019.

Thinking Design by Adobe

Stories and insights from the design community.

Patrick Faller

Written by

Content/community creator, strategist, and award-winning journalist with a passion for technology, art, development, and design 🚀

Thinking Design by Adobe

Stories and insights from the design community.

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