Answering some of my FAQ's...
Q: Why did you move to Denver?
If you asked me four years ago where I thought I was going to end up after college, I would've told you NYC, Chicago, Austin, or some other "big city" with an "industry focus" and "strong networking opportunities" (typing these now make me a little sick to my stomach, lol). However, as I went through college and found myself feeling stuck as an upperclassman during the pandemic, I took advantage of my remote classes and internships and began exploring the US through road trips. I didn't expect it, but I absolutely fell in love with traveling and quickly became disillusioned to the 9-5 corporate hustle I had idealized since I got into business school.
When I received the full-time job offer I ended up accepting, I had the option to stay in Austin and go into the office or work remotely and move wherever I wanted to go. Thinking about how comfortable I had become with the flexibility that remote work provides and how excited I felt when I would road trip through the mountains, I went out on a limb, took the virtual offer, and moved to Denver. I chose an apartment in LoDo that would allow me to explore the city by foot but escape to the mountains in just an hour's drive, and I seriously could not be happier with my decision. I love it here so much, and don't see myself leaving for a very long time (if ever).
Q: What do you do in your full-time job?
I am currently working as a product designer on an Accessibility Center of Excellence at a big tech company. My primary functions include dashboard design (with some data transformation), accessible design auditing, and internal education / advocacy on the importance of accessibility in our internal and external digital products.
Q: How did you get into UX design?
This is a GREAT question, and one I don't really have a great answer to, unfortunately. As much as I wish I could give you guys resources and advice for getting into UX design, my journey to this career was quite unconventional and I don't have any "formal" experience or training.
I got to participate in two summer internships at my current company prior to accepting my full-time offer, and since I don't have the software engineering experience that many of my peers had, I was placed in a "researcher" role my first summer. I was helping the newly-created accessibility team that was suffering from a pandemic-fueled hiring freeze create standards and guidance for the company about accessible practices. Accidentally, I fell into some UX-aligned user testing and research as I interviewed employees with disabilities about their experiences with various services and assistive technology. I realized that I loved user research and the accessibility space, and I asked to explore more of a design-focused role when I accepted a return offer for the following summer.
In my second internship, I worked under a design principal and in a product design role. I learned how to use Figma for wireframing and high-fidelity prototypes, and spent the summer taking a static light-mode dashboard design and transforming it into a sleek, modern dark-mode view that was responsive to desktop, tablet, and mobile viewports. Although I loved the design aspect of my day-to-day role, I missed the user interfacing and collaborative work style I had when I was with the accessibility team.
When I received my full-time offer from the same company, I returned back to the accessibility team (now a Center of Excellence!) as a product designer and am so lucky to be enjoying the best of both summer internship experiences.
Ah, Work from Denver... truly the biggest surprise and blessing since I've gotten here!
When I got to Denver, I knew I needed to make an effort to work from places other than my apartment as much as possible. Don't get me wrong, my work-from-home set up is amazing for intensive work days, but there are some lulls in any corporate job where you find yourself in long meetings, trainings, or just a stretch of answering emails, and it's SO much easier to get through those from cute spots in my new city!
Unfortunately, I quickly found that Google reviews were so not ideal for finding remote work spots. I'd drive to a 5-star coffee shop with glowing review just to find that they don't have wifi, or the table space is basically nonexistent, or there are no outlets. I remember saying to myself that someone should create a space where coffee shops are reviewed based on their remote workability, then I thought... Why can't I just do that?
Q: How much time do you spend on content creation?
Another great question - and the answer is that it totally depends.
At the end of the day, my full-time job funds my life here, so it always comes first. On weeks that are busier at work for me, I might only have time to visit one or two coffee shops and make one reel from recycled content (ending up at about 6 hours a week of researching, visiting, and creating). On lighter weeks, I may be able to visit a different coffee shop every single day, make a ton of reels and save them to my drafts, and work on other mediums like Tik Tok
or this blog. On those weeks, I can end up spending over 20 hours on side projects related to Work from Denver.
Now that I'm branching into brand partnerships and lifestyle content, content creation takes up a lot more of my time than it used to. For example, I can normally get ready in the morning in 10 minutes, but when I'm filming a GRWM or a DITL, that goes up to 30 minutes. Or, if I'm working with a new brand and my perfectionism kicks in, I can spend twice as long as I usually would to edit a reel to make sure it's really *perfect*. In this new phase of Work from Denver, my goal for myself is to find a healthy balance between personal projects and my full time job - check out my blog for more on that!