UX Graduate Spotlight: Starting A Career Post Bootcamp

MARCH, 2020

Interviewed by Jocelyn Mendez
Photography by Andrew Pieroni

“It’s always frightening to take a step into a field where you’ll have to start at the bottom, but you can’t deny that it’s the most rewarding feeling when you finally find your true calling” 

We sat down with Kat Savin, a recent MAS UX bootcamp graduate, to learn about her experience during the program, and the big career moves she’s been making since. 

Kat Savin
Experience Designer
Publicis Canada 

What were you doing before you started the UX Bootcamp at Miami Ad School Toronto?
Before starting at Miami Ad School, I was working as a product designer at Profilio, a start up digital agency run by my brother. It allowed me the opportunity to wear many hats and build experience. Prior to that I majored in communication culture, information and technology at the University of Toronto. I started freelancing and reaching out to companies for social media management as well as working as a marketing designer. As great as these experiences were, I had contemplated just becoming a teacher or something else. I was really struggling to find my calling.
Why did you choose to pursue UX Design as a career?
I think the fact that it is so centred on understanding people is what drew me in. You need to be passionate and really understand the user in a very short amount of time. It’s the perfect combination of design and problem solving. I prefer the functionality of it.

“None of the cases were hypothetical which gave us the opportunity to solve a real problem.”

How hands-on was the bootcamp when it came to teaching you UX?
It was super hands-on. At Miami Ad School Toronto, we got to work with two real life clients. This really made us feel that there was much more at stake. None of the cases were hypothetical which gave us the opportunity to solve a real problem, and made everyone more passionate about finding the best solution. The biggest takeaway wasn’t the doing part, but knowing when and how to do it, and never doing UX activities for the sake of it. The program gave me the right mindset about understanding requirements and needs, and UX is in the middle. All the doing comes after.
How was the transition from the program into your new role?
I am currently working in a Junior UX role at Publicis Canada, with 3 projects running at once. Even at the start, I never felt like I was behind. I think the terminology and skills I learnt from the bootcamp truly equipped me for this role. I understand what people are talking about and I feel like I actually add value. I feel more in my element now than when I first started. 

The transition was scary and exciting. This was my first major job coming out of school, and Publicis Canada did a great job at easing me in. I shadowed the UX team for two weeks. Slowly I started getting placed onto more projects. A lot of companies won’t have the budget to support UX, so now it’s a skill to decide what would be the best option out of all of the activities for the client. The full value of UX isn’t really being acknowledged in advertising agencies.

Kat and classmates in an ideation session at the Publicis Sapient Offices

What has been your favourite project to date, post school?
I had the privilege of working on a project for Sprott Money. They are a company that sells gold and silver bars online. I loved this project, because I was able to speak to the clients directly. Everything about this project was well organized, and the team associated with it were amazing. The client really trusted us. It didn’t feel like we were working for them, but rather that we were working with them. It was a collective effort, and the project components were highly challenging.

Kat and group members presenting in a workshop session at Miami Ad School

In your opinion, what makes a good UX Designer?
Someone with great soft skills, such as patience, empathy, time management, and strong communication ability. The type of person who not only understands what to do but more importantly when to do it, because relevance is key in this role. A good UX designer is someone who will always advocate for the user first, and the business second. It’s someone who isn’t afraid to say no to both the client and the internal team. That someone shouldn’t be a client pleaser and should push back when needed. The most important thing is that he or she isn’t afraid to ask questions, and a lot of them.
Would you recommend this program to others and why?

Yes, especially if David Han is leading it. The UX bootcamp at Miami Ad School Toronto is not like traditional school, in the sense that it prepares you for the real world more than any program would do. The program is well structured, and has an incredible roster of instructors who genuinely care to help you improve.

**Update 2022: Kat Savin currently is a product designer at Nurun.

If you’re ready to start your own UX career path, sign up for Miami Ad School’s UX Bootcamp by April 10th.

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