Two UX Design Positions in Two Months – Interview With Gabriela Leopoldo
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Two UX Design Positions in Two Months – Interview With Gabriela Leopoldo

Two UX Design Positions in Two Months - Interview With Gabriela Leopoldo cover

Gabriela, our Master Interface Design student, decided to transition from Graphic Design to UX Design due to her strong desire to work with digital products.

She dedicated approximately one year to her studies in pursuit of her first UX opportunity. However, Gabriela unexpectedly received an offer she couldn't turn down shortly after.

Furthermore, Gabriela shares with us how she effectively organized herself to concentrate on her studies in MID, along with several other valuable tips. So be sure to check out her story and draw inspiration from it!

Gabriela, please introduce yourself!

Felipe, thank you very much for the invitation. I’m very happy to be here today, sharing my story!

I'm currently 23 years old and originally from Bauru, a city located in the countryside of São Paulo. I began my journey into design when I was just 14 years old. Back then, I created a blog and developed a strong interest in building the blog's layout.

Because of that, I learned Photoshop, HTML, and CSS, so I could design the blog just the way I wanted!

It was a very cool experience because I learned everything by myself, searching on Google. At that time, some freelance jobs to create other blogs started popping up. And this is how I got myself into graphic design.

From this experience, I was sure that Design was the discipline I would pursue. So, at the age of 17, I started college.

During college, I was a freelancer at a company in Maranhão, working remotely with social media, and doing the graphic design part within the advertising campaigns.

Soon after, I was hired at Tilibra as an intern, and then I was promoted to a permanent position at the same company.

My boyfriend is a developer, and we started to do some personal projects together. That's when I realized I had a lot to learn, especially when it came to digital products.

UX Design Portfolio - Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo’s Portfolio

Were these personal projects what brought you back to Digital Design?

The projects helped, but at the same time, I started to question a little bit the graphic design process, the deadlines, and the development after finishing the product.

By doing personal projects, I realized that the digital area was something I really liked, and the desire to learn more about it was driving me forward.

I knew I wanted to learn more, but I didn't want to invest too much yet because I hadn't researched the field enough.

So, I started taking less expensive courses and exploring free content on the internet.

In other words, I came to love UX Design!

I always recommend getting to know more about the area before diving in. I always tell people to take inexpensive courses to find out if they like and identify with the area before investing money in more in-depth courses.

Studying the market and the opportunities can make a difference! Mainly because working with graphic design is very different from working with UX Design.

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What made you so sure you wanted to pivot to UX Design?

What made me sure I wanted to pivot to UX Design and apply to the Master Interface Design course was attending the Startup Weekend.

At this event, you get to have more contact with people from the technology field, and for me, it was a very nice experience!

I really fell in love once we left the computer and went to validate what we had developed.

As a graphic designer, I have never left the computer to think about what we should do and talk to people.

So Startup Weekend was the event that made me sure that UX Design was what I wanted to pursue.

I joined the Master Interface Design course in June 2019, and I was a completely different person then.

UX Design Portfolio - Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo’s Portfolio

Why were you a different person back then?

I was a different designer!

What I thought I knew about design was very little. As soon as I started the MID course I realized that I had a lot to learn.

Today, I look back at the projects from the first levels of the course and think I would have done them differently!

But this change was not quick. It was something I gradually built up over time, immersing myself in the tech area and searching for other sources of content.

Another thing I love about the MID course is the direction you give us.

In other places, each website and course says something different about UX Design, and about the studies, and I ended up getting quite lost.

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How did you organize your studies?

In the beginning, it was quite difficult!

My old job was very demanding. So I would come home pretty tired already.

During this time, I could only study on weekends or holidays, or on vacations; and I confess that I was not happy with this dynamic. I felt very guilty for not being able to focus more on my studies.

But something that helped me a lot was taking advantage of the reduced workload that came about because of the pandemic.

We started working 6 hours, so I had at least 2 hours a day to study, and this made a big difference in my life.

Also, since I was working remotely, there was no waste with commuting, which helped even more.

So I set times in my day for each activity. I have completely organized my routine. I set times for studying, eating, exercising, working, etc.

In addition, I used some other techniques and tools to help me get organized.

I use Notion a lot, and I created a specific page there for my studies, and with that, I tried to immerse myself as much as possible.

Before, I had a lot of materials on many subjects, and this diversity of things wasted a lot of my time. So with Notion, I sorted my studies by topics and set specific days to study each one.

This way, I had one day to read extra content, other days to do the course, and other days to do practical exercises.

This arrangement helped me a lot because I already knew everything I was supposed to do, I had everything planned, and this was very good because it bought me a lot of time.

And the most interesting thing about the MID course is that I thought it would be very important until I landed my first UX role.

But I realize that today, working in the field, the course is much more important to me than when I was studying.

Now I can see what I can do to help in real life, and the course helps prepare me better for work situations.

UX Portfolio Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo – Wireframes

How was your recruitment process?

I remember that two months into the course, I had an interview, and I hadn't done anything! I built a superficial portfolio that clearly showed I didn't know what I was doing!

But even so, I was called for an interview, and with that, I realized how the UX Design market was booming and how companies were willing to hire someone that was willing to learn together.

Of course, for this position I mentioned, I didn't get an offer because they were looking for a more experienced person. But this situation was a real eye-opener! Wow, after only two months in the course, I was already called for an interview!

When I finished MID level 2, I started working on my portfolio and sent my resume to a few job openings.

I got to do 4 interviews, some of them during the pandemic. Something that I believed would never happen.

Then came Yampi, a company that found me through a referral from a friend of my boyfriend. They contacted me through LinkedIn, saw my portfolio, and the interview was basically a conversation.

It was very quick, and the position was very spot on because it fitted very well with what I was looking for.

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Is this position remote even after the pandemic?


But the CEO commented that he wants to promote occasional meetings because it is something that is good for the team, for people to get to know each other.

I have had a remote experience before, and I love it! I don't waste time commuting; it's really cool!

How was the remote onboarding in the company?

It's a company that I really love, and it's been amazing for me.

It's very different from anything I've ever seen in graphic design. The team is united, the communication is very good, the environment is calm and positive, and there is a lot of support!

I joined as a UX designer, and I'm participating in some new projects, but currently, I'm working a lot on the visual side as well. And I am learning a lot, my experience in graphic design has been very helpful.

Sometimes we think our background will be discarded, but it's not like that!

UX Design Portfolio Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo – Processes

What was the most important thing you learned during this transition process to UX Design?

During the process, I got some feedback that was very nice and allowed me to see where I was going wrong.

One important lesson was, in the portfolio, to connect the problem to the solution, presenting the whole process!

Recruiters from the interviews told me that it was very hard to see someone do that, and I thought it was a normal thing; after all, it's something that you (Aela's mentors) repeat a lot in the course.

Another thing that helped me greatly was looking at other people's portfolios and writing down what I liked about each.

So, when I put together my portfolio, I used many of the things I had written down!

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What advice would you give those who want to pivot to UX Design?

Being curious helped me a lot, even though it sounds cliché! Doing research and learning about the field was very important.

Another thing that was essential was to establish what was important for me to do at each moment, to organize myself, and to focus on the course and my studies.

The discipline to not lose focus was very important.

Every time I felt I was drifting off, I would return to Notion, see my priority, and refocus on the right things.

I would also say that patience is indeed essential! Your mind will certainly change, but that doesn't happen from one month to the next. Take it easy and, do things right, study hard!

There is no other way, it takes time, and that is part of the process. There are no shortcuts!

UX Portfolio Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo’s Portfolio

Note: just after recording this interview, Gabriela received another surprising opportunity, and we came back to hear the news!

Gabriela, tell us about it! What happened?

About two weeks after we recorded the video interview, I received an offer from a company I already admired!

I sent them my resume at the beginning of the year, but they answered me only in the second semester.

They called me for an interview, and there was a mutual connection.

The difference is that they are a consulting company, and I was very confused! It was an important moment in my career and professional life, and I couldn't be happier with what happened!

How did the interview come about?

When I sent my resume, they probably didn't even have open positions, so I guess I was in a talent pool.

When the position opened up, they contacted me.

The interview was very smooth, a conversation with the person who is my boss today.

He asked about my background, questioned my portfolio, and wanted to understand the process and how I do my research.

It was very nice because I realized that they had a focus that goes beyond visuals, and our conversation explored a lot about how I came up with the solutions.

Next, I talked to the CEO, and this interview was more straightforward. He asked about attitudes in certain situations. He made me a little nervous, but he was very nice.

I think that the MID classes helped me a lot in this process because you explained how a consultancy works. So I went into the interview already knowing a lot of things.

And the coolest thing was that I got positive feedback from the interviews!

UX Design Portfolio Gabriela Leopoldo
Gabriela Leopoldo’s Portfolio

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What is the main difference between a startup and a consultancy company?

The main question I had when I was called was: will I learn everything superficially, or will I be able to go deeper into the topics?

But today, I know that the learning process in consulting is not superficial at all. At least here where I work.

In this regard, I am getting to learn a lot. The work is very multidisciplinary, and the team is amazing.

The teams always have many professionals, and you can really take part in the process. So I have been interacting with the strategy and research departments, and I have had a lot of autonomy.

I can learn many different things and follow diverse projects! I am really happy about the job!

Congratulations on your achievements, Gabi, and we wish you lots of success in your journey!

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