Meet Margaret. From Freelance Graphic Designer to Full-Time UX Designer with OpenClassrooms

At OpenClassrooms, we don’t only provide education and training for in-demand jobs of the future, we help our students advance their careers and find work.

Margaret Alés Cowley studied with OpenClassrooms on our master’s-level, UX Design Career Path. Spoiler alert! Margaret found a job before she had even finished her final project. Here is her story:

OC: What were you doing before OpenClassrooms?

MAC: I was a freelance digital designer. I used to do web design and HTML/CSS for small clients who would usually need a logo and a corporate website for their business.

Before being a freelancer, I worked in an independent video-game company as a digital designer.

OC: How did you find OpenClassrooms?

MAC: I found OC by word-of-mouth in late 2017. A friend of mine talked to me about it.

I was already searching for UX courses and I couldn’t find any that suited my needs. I wanted to take a step further and go beyond free online courses. I was looking to make a shift away from freelance and toward full-time employment as a UX designer. And I needed a program that could give me the right skills and competencies to be job-ready.

OC: Why did you choose to study with OpenClassrooms?

MAC: I have a bachelor’s degree in advertising. This helped me develop critical and creative thinking but it did not touch on the digital world. Like many people of my generation, I’m a self-taught person.

Over the years my career in digital design was built with the “learn by doing” concept and the UX Design Career Path at OC is based on the same principle. I think it’s the best way to learn. This was decisive for me.

But there were many other positive things that convinced me, such as the mentoring sessions with a working professional, the learning structure (10 big projects divided by themes) and of course, the official diploma.

OC: What did you most appreciate about OpenClassrooms?

MAC: I really appreciated that the courses are online and that I could manage my time autonomously. This freedom was crucial. As a freelancer, I needed great flexibility.

OC: What were the biggest challenges and how did you surmount them?

MAC: The biggest challenges were the first projects. Everything was new. I met my mentor. I started the courses. I spent quite some time preparing the deliverables, creating the slides, rehearsing the presentation, etc. It felt overwhelming and I was nervous.

Project 2 was especially difficult. You have to perform ethnography research, interviewing real people. But at some point you have to jump straight into it, right? I mean, you just do it. My mentor was extremely reassuring. Thanks to her, when I met the first participant I felt confident because we had honed my interview script that I followed closely.

I was learning, so I knew that if anything went wrong, I would try again and neither my mentor nor anybody else would judge me. This is why we’re here. To learn by doing.

OC: How quickly after graduation did you find a job? 

MAC: Very quickly! I haven’t graduated yet (I’m on project 9) but I’ve already found a job. I’ve just started a few weeks ago.

I was on project 8 when I got an email from a contact asking me for my resume. Her company was looking for a UX Designer! In fact, by that time, I had already started project 10, in which you create/update your online portfolio, LinkedIn, etc. I was already looking for full-time UX jobs in Bordeaux.

The company I’ve joined has such a compelling mission. I’m very happy to join a team full of talented people with different backgrounds. I work with another UX designer, which is great because I’m able to exchange and share ideas with an expert.

My mentor played a major role in this part. She made me believe in myself as a UX Designer. She was really supportive and she encouraged me to contact other professionals on LinkedIn. She gave me effective feedback about my portfolio online.

Even though I’ve found the job quickly, I’d like to add that it wasn’t easy. Before this happened, I had applied for other UX jobs and they didn’t get back to me. Looking for a job can be tricky. You should never let this bring you down. It’s easier said than done but there’s no other way.

OC: What did studying with OpenClassrooms teach you about yourself?

MAC: OC is hard work, but it taught me that I could do it! I know this is so simple, but yet, before you enroll it can seem like a big step.

OC: How did studying with OpenClassrooms changed your life?

MAC: Freelancing is absolutely great but it can be very hard and energy consuming. I didn’t want to freelance any more, at least not in the same way that I’ve been doing it. I didn’t know what to do.

I’ve always been interested in UX Design. At some point I realized that I could take advantage of my freedom as a freelancer and invest one year of my life in something that I believed in. It has been a real challenge in many ways, but it was worth it.

I’m a gamer and I’ve already worked in video-games. The great thing is that user experience can be applied to so many fields, including video-games, virtual reality and augmented reality. I believe there’s great potential here.

Joining this OpenClassrooms Career Path is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Would you like to learn more about our Career Paths? Come on over to OpenClassrooms to learn about our UX Design program as well as our many other fully accredited programs.

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