Meet UX Design student Ricardo Garcia

July 24, 2019

Written by Jeff Stern, UX Design Certificate Faculty

The UX Design Certificate Program offered by Continuing Education attracts students from a variety of backgrounds, and they all have a passion for using design to create useful and usable digital experiences. I caught up with one student, Ricardo Garcia, about how he chose to apply, his experiences so far and his advice for others interested in studying UX.

What first interested you in the University of Arts UX Certificate program?

I was doing a lot of research online and most of what I found were online courses. There were not a lot of university-based schools in the area. I graduated from University of Arts in 2002, so the school was already familiar too. There were also the right amount of classes, a few user experience-focused classes, spaced out over a year.

What are some of the courses you’ve taken so far?
The two classes that stood out to me were the research class and the project management class.

I have practiced design, but I have never really concentrated on research so that was a brand new experience for me. It was intimidating at first, but I dove in and really enjoyed it. We learned about how surveys, interviews and competitive analyses can inform our designs. My final prototype was a lot better had I not done the research. Having evidence to back up design decisions was a really important learning.

We also had a weekend crash course on project management. I learned so much in the class. The class was invaluable for if I wanted to be self-employed, do freelance design work, or even switch to project management. Sloan was an awesome teacher.


How much did you know about UX design before beginning the program?

I had an idea of what UX Design is, but until I took this certificate program I didn’t really get a lot of practice in it. I have learned a lot about the day-to-day basis of being a UX designer. Concepts, sketching, brainstorming, in-class, master of the post-its. It gave me the confidence to start bringing these skills into my own job and start making a career move.

Taking the program in-person also made a difference. I have taken classes online, but it was nothing like being in a classroom. There’s something about the people element.


What was it about being in a classroom with peers that made the program more impactful?

I thought it was cool how all of us came from different backgrounds and different levels of our careers. In my cohort there were marketing managers, people managers, and even one person who designed physical spaces. Having these different perspectives, we got to see more fully who the user is. With this variety in the classroom, we also got a peek of what it would be like in the real world.

It was also easier to get quick feedback and validation if I was going in the right direction on a project. When I’m in the classroom, it’s instant. And I don’t just get to hear or read feedback, but I can read facial expressions. In all my classes, I received very supportive feedback and very targeted feedback – not just on designs, but also how to present my work. Those things I’d never get in an online course.


How has the program changed you and your skill set?

Before the program, I had mostly done visual web design, but UX design is so much more than that. This has opened my eyes, I used to be so tunnel-visioned on design, design, design. I now see opportunities for user research, and I could do more of that. Being in the program now, it reinforced that what I wanted to do, which is UX design, and it opened my eyes to how UX design works in the real world. 


What advice would you have for future cohorts?

Be ready to work a lot. I knew that the more I put in, the more I was going to get out of it. I get it – Game of Thrones is awesome – but there were times when I had to turn it off and focus on the assignment.

This is a career-changing decision for me, and I took it very seriously. When it comes time to applying for UX design roles, I’ll have a portfolio that’s spot-on and ready to go. Take it seriously.

If you need to learn InVision or Sketch, these programs will take time to learn outside of class too. Be prepared to get in there and take tutorials online, get in there and play around.


Applications for the UX Design Certificate are accepted for Fall

Application deadline: September 9, 2019
Fall cohort begins: September 30, 2019 

Learn more