Designing a New Life: How Two GA Alums Changed Their Location & Careers

By and

These two took a leap of faith when they crossed the Atlantic to settle in the UK. While in London, Maite completed WDI and Chris completed UXDI at our London campus. Now, they’re are giving back by helping current students master their new skills.

What were you doing before your course at General Assembly?

Maite: We were living in New York. I was working at Macy’s as a freelance Traffic Coordinator. It is as boring as it sounds aka an extremely unexciting job. Before that I was working in public relations and I was not very good at that either.

Chris: I had been working in technology for a while doing a bunch of different things and bouncing around between New York, Maryland and California.

What prompted your career change?

Maite: I did not enjoy what I was doing and then I got laid off in January. That definitely prompted me to think about my next career move. At this point I was having a midlife crisis and had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew for sure that I did not like PR or Marketing. It always felt deceitful to sell something I did not believe in. Chris then suggested to look into UX since I tend question everything. Ha! I did an info session in the New York GA campus to see what it was all about.  It struck a chord with me but the only problem was I wanted to leave New York. Get a fresh start. So, we randomly booked a flight to San Francisco two days after I got laid off and checked out the GA campus there. While we were there, Chris woke up one morning and said “How about we move to London?” Two months later we were in London and lucky enough GA became my excuse to be there for at least 3 months doing the UXDI course.

Chris: Basically what Maite said. I had been with my company for over 5 years, it had basically been the only job I’d ever had, but I wanted to step outside see what else the world had to offer. I also really wanted to start creating things, previously I had only been on the support side of IT.

What made you decide to take our Web Development Immersive?

Chris: I knew that I wanted to take a full-time immersive course, I had tried some online sources to teach myself, but I found that I always learned better in a classroom environment with real-world practitioners teaching relevant skills.

How have you been helping our current students?

Chris:  I decided to become a Homework TA because I loved being in the creative environment that GA produces.

Every time I’m at GA working with a student, even if it’s for an hour, I always end up learning something from them, and hopefully they’ll learn something from me. Also, I don’t use a lot of Ruby in my job, I work primarily with JS, so being able to go back and keep up with Ruby and solve problems keeps me fresh.

Maite: Around two weeks after graduating GA I landed my first UX job with Red Badger in June. Around September Paul from GA approached my UX mentor Joe and asked if he wanted to teach an evening course. He accepted and appointed me as TA. It sort of fell on my lap and I just went with it.

I could talk about UX all day so, my experience has been great. Talking to people about UX I realized how much I know and how I have formed my own opinions. General Assembly definitely gave me a massive head start and taught me how to keep growing after the course. Hopefully, I am helping the students have the same experience as I did. It’s really awarding to share, especially since I believe user centered design should be applied to every product.

How did you two meet?

Maite: We met in New York, four months prior to moving to London. Guess when you know what you want, you just go for it.

Any plans for your next steps, career-wise?

Maite: I want to hone my visual design skill at bit further so I can be a true UX unicorn. I am also working on side projects for organizations that are doing good in their community but do not have a site that can help them achieve their goals. For example, my current side project is working on a site for a Dog Shelter in Spain that was built by regular people who couldn’t stand watching stray dogs starving and being abused. Also, for next career steps I will focus more on grassroot projects.

Chris: I just want to keep absorbing more knowledge in Web Development. To see how far I’ve come in 6-months of working in the field (3 at GA and 3 professionally), it’s absolutely insane. I can’t imagine what I’ll be doing after a year.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Maite: Eating a whole jar of Nutella in one sitting. Its like crack, I can’t stop.

Chris: Haribo Tangfastics. I don’t think they sell them in America, but they are basically like giant Sour Patch Kids.

Learn More About Immersive Courses at GA

Melanie Albert oversees alumni programming and communications for General Assembly.