Alumni Story: Redesigning a Future in the Nonprofit Sector

Gladia Castro

After nearly 10 years at a youth-focused nonprofit, Gladia Castro considered herself a “big kid at heart.” But although she was passionate about her work running development programs, she felt exhausted by the long hours and low pay. With her eye on tech, Castro turned to her brother, a visual designer, for advice. “He told me about user experience (UX) design and that was all I needed to hear,” says Castro. “I was shocked because a lot of what a UX designer does is what I had been doing at my job, except for the design software.”

After hearing good things from his friends, Castro’s brother suggested looking into General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) program. While researching the course, she had “a huge epiphany.” she says. “I knew I was going to be a UX designer.”

With no formal design experience, Castro quit her job and enrolled full-time at GA San Francisco. For 10 weeks, she studied the ins and outs of UX, practicing skills like user research, wireframing, affinity mapping, and more. For her final project, Castro built an app to help a technologically underserved group: seniors. “My focus was researching solutions and designing a user interface (UI) that helps family members communicate with their loved ones — without the pressure of intimidating technology.”

With guidance from GA’s Outcomes program, Castro gained the tools and confidence to secure a role as a product associate at Flipcause, a company that assists nonprofits with fundraising and community engagement. After so many years in the nonprofit sector, the impact she’s making at Flipcause is especially rewarding: “I see our impact every day. We are constantly saving small organizations time and resources to increase supporter engagement to advance their missions,” Castro says. “That’s the most gratifying experience — to know that I’m designing better solutions and experiences to help nonprofits every day.”

In her role, Castro designs user experiences and helps troubleshoot with developers. She even converted the team to using Sketch, the industry-standard design program she learned to use at GA. “I love that each day is different and that I’m expanding my skills in design and coding as well,” she says.

Build the life you want. Whether you’ve got your eye on a new career, want to complement your current skills with UX design concepts, or are simply looking to try something new, there’s an option for you.