Mark Phan

Originally published on SkillsFund

After realizing he wanted a career change, Mark wound up in San Francisco with a game plan and a desire for a new challenge. After learning about and visiting several San Francisco-based bootcamps, Mark dove into the UX Design Immersive Program at GrowthX Academy. We checked in with him during his fifth week to see how it’s going.

HEY, MARK! WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO ATTEND AN ACCELERATED LEARNING PROGRAM?

Mark: “I toyed with the idea of attending a bootcamp around two years ago, but I put it on hold because after attending a traditional college, I didn’t have the funds to invest more in my education. I worked as a Videographer and Instructional Designer at an ecommerce company when I realized what I enjoyed most about my job: I love analyzing problems, figuring out a solution, and designing content to implement my ideas. I discovered user experience design had a lot of similarities and decided attending a UX bootcamp would allow me to level up my skills to make the transition. I tried online courses like Udemy and Coursera, but needed more guidance as to what to learn next.”

THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT PROGRAMS IN SAN FRANCISCO. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE ON GROWTHX ACADEMY?

Mark: “I had never actually heard of GrowthX Academy when I started my search. I checked out a lot of different programs in San Francisco. After a quick Google search, I discovered GrowthX Academy’s website. The curriculum sounded very thorough and unique – and was exactly what I was looking for. I gave them a call because I wanted to learn more. They answered my questions really well and weren’t salesy at all. I went to the campus to shadow a class. I saw what the students were working on and met with the UX instructor, Julia. She answered my questions about the curriculum, structure, and her background. My experience visiting GrowthX Academy definitely helped me make a decision. Julia gave me a few minutes to sit alone with the current students and ask them what they thought of the program. It was great to have a platform to ask them questions and talk about any hesitations I had.”

WALK ME THROUGH THE PROCESS OF APPLYING FOR SKILLS FUND FINANCING.

Mark: Once we started talking about how I was planning on financing the cost of tuition, one of the team members at GrowthX Academy recommended Skills Fund. The process of applying for a loan was so easy – I filled out the necessary information and got a notice that I was approved immediately. I took some time to weigh my options and “shopped around”, calling several lenders and getting all my questions answered. I ended up selecting Skills Fund as my financer because my rate from them was lower than other lenders.”

HOW DID YOU FEEL ON YOUR FIRST DAY IN THE PROGRAM?

Mark: “I felt confident. I was excited about making the commitment. I knew what I was getting myself into. Before starting the program, I told all my friends I wouldn’t be able to hang out as much, because I’m going to be a full-time student again!”

SO, HOW’S EVERYTHING GOING SO FAR?

Mark: “It’s going really well! Class started May 8th. It’s a well-rounded program: from day one, GrowthX Academy not only teaches technical and theoretical skills, but also soft skills like resume-building and public speaking. Early on in the course, GrowthX Academy implemented a program to help students select what companies they’d like to work for after the program, based on values and culture. There’s a lot of career-minded topics throughout the program, such as having difficult conversations and holding effective meetings. As a bonus, the UX Design course is running at the same time as the Growth Marketing course, so sometimes we collaborate together. Each day, we have a few articles and pieces of curated content to read and review. It’s a great way to get a comprehensive viewpoint of what people are doing in the UX industry. Our instructor pulls information from design leaders in the industry.

TELL ME ABOUT A DAY IN THE LIFE AS A GROWTHX ACADEMY UX STUDENT.

Mark: “Class starts at 9:00am. We have access to get into the classroom early- so I’m usually there at 8:30am with a cup of coffee! We start out most mornings with Studio Time to work on assignments and projects. Studio Time is also used for career building and LinkedIn time. It’s up to the student to choose how they prioritize their time. From 9:00am – 12:00pm, we either have cross-curriculum with the Growth Marketing team, Studio Time, or speakers from external companies. We have a break for lunch from 12:00pm – 1:00pm, which some students multitask and work through. At 1:00pm, we have reading review to discuss our key takeaways. From 1:30pm – 5:00pm, we have lecture time. Lectures are divided into different concepts depending on which week of the program we’re in. The first week was an introduction to UX Design. In week two, we learned about different types of research and different ways to conduct research. In week three we learned how to analyze research, create insights and communicate findings. Next, we’ll learn about information architecture, wireframes, prototypes and visual design.

To get in touch with Mark, connect with him on LinkedIn!