“It surprised me how UX was rooted in research and data, and that it is about how things work and solving problems,” says Gardner, who brings fresh skills from her UX design training to her role as a product designer for execution management software GoSpotCheck. “I’m introducing design thinking to the organization. Instead of just focusing on the features they want to deliver, I am trying to bring insight into the real problems their users have and how we might be able solve them.”
Discovering that UX is relevant everywhere transformed the way Gardner approaches day-to-day grievances. “Whenever I hear someone complaining or trying to implement a solution, I try to dig in deeper and find the actual problem,” she says. “Many times once you bring clarity to the problem, you’re able to find different solutions to address the issue.”
Danielle Pascarella (Front End Web Development, New York City) left a cushy job as an investment specialist at J.P. Morgan to focus her career on social good, and created a nonprofit to teach financial literacy. To make her organization’s lessons accessible, Pascarella needed to digitize them — a massive undertaking that she couldn’t achieve with financial expertise and a strong writing background alone.
By the end of the course, she had built a prototype for what is now Invibed.com, her thriving fintech company that helps individuals in their 20s and 30s get their financial lives together. “Best of all, the part-time program was flexible enough to fit in with my busy work schedule,” she says.
Jerome Hardaway (Web Development Immersive, New York City) like many other veterans returning to civilian society, struggled to find his path after serving in the Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Hardaway craved a more creative career and knew the tech industry was growing rapidly, so he decided to pursue web development through General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive course in New York. “I saw a post about GA’s Opportunity Fund scholarship on Facebook, and thought it would be a chance for me to hone my skills as a web developer and earnestly pursue a career in tech, so I went ahead and applied,” he said.
After completing the program, Hardaway founded the nonprofit organization VetsWhoCode, through which he works to inspire and empower other veterans and servicemembers to pursue training and jobs in tech. “I tell people I’ve gone from no job to having one. I can’t understate the importance of General Assembly,” he says. Hardaway is also excited to defy stereotypes. “As an African American and a combat veteran, there are a lot of stigmas to break, both in tech and in the general population,” he says. “I’m happy to be paving the way for other veterans to pursue a career in tech post-military.”