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Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

By Academy Xi

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Startup Founder, Entrepreneur, Advisor — and now Physiotherapist turned Software Engineer — Barry Nguyen proves that curiosity, passion and continuous learning can help you get ahead of the curve.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

We caught up with Barry, one of our recent Software Engineering Transform graduates. He’s kindly taken the time to share his adventures and career transition in the ‘tech world’ as a learner and startup founder. We’ll also talk about why he recommends this course to other startup founders and entrepreneurs.

Hi Barry! Thanks for taking the time to share your Xi experience with us.  How did your career in Software Engineering take shape?

After I completed my health sciences degree at the University of Melbourne, I began working in a private practice and also ran my own physiotherapy clinic in the spareroom of a local GP on saturdays. The room was small and needed to be a functional physio space, so storage was an issue. Around this time, I caught up with my high school mate and in response to my workspace problem we developed web-based software to eliminate the paper trail. That’s the point at which I realised that software engineering could be put to good use in healthcare. Following 15 years of working as a physiotherapist, I decided to enter the healthtech space. 

The Australian tech startup environment is not as developed as Silicon Valley. This means it’s normally not enough to have a plan on a piece of paper and an Ivy League education to get funding, even if it’s a really good idea. Investors want to know beforehand that new concepts will solve problems and lead to something that sells. You need to have an MVP or a tested prototype to show investors that what you’re working with is basically tried-and-true. 

I quickly realised I was spending a lot of my own money paying other people to develop working prototypes. At the same time, it was tricky to find technical co-founders. There’s a general shortage of software engineers and developers in Australia, but they’re even more scarce in the startup environment. I eventually thought to myself, “I’m not going to do this anymore. I can’t keep moving back-and-forth, it’s just too expensive and time consuming”. That’s when I realised that I needed to write code for myself. I made a positive decision to get the skills and know-how needed to realise my own MVP. 

Having made the decision to upskill, I looked at what was on offer and decided to join Academy Xi. The choice really paid off – Albert’s been a great instructor and given me the confidence to think critically about my own software designs. I test the architecture for any strengths and weaknesses, and then make simple but effective decisions about what needs to be added or subtracted.    

It’s been a few months since I graduated and I’m now fully equipped to create my own MVPs. It’s honestly been life changing – the fact that I can now call myself a qualified software engineer. It means I’m less reliant on other people’s skills and as a result, my career’s become much more streamlined. 

What were the biggest challenges and rewards that came with the course?

The prospect of studying online represented one of the biggest obstacles for me. You encounter a lot of stories about software developers and engineers self-learning on platforms such as YouTube and Udemy. There’s this question in your mind, “could I learn all this for free on YouTube?” Honestly, the answer is no, you probably can’t. YouTube videos ‘show and tell’, but the relationship ends there. This course distinguishes itself through its involvement with real people. There’s a supportive peer-to-peer network, and you also get unlimited 1:1 mentoring sessions.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen Quote1

The time I spent with my mentor Albert was critical. It’s not a very content rich course – it’s more like a process of problem solving. Albert did a great job of guiding me through that.
My mentor sessions with Albert helped me fix problems before they grew, which meant I could confidently move on to the next thing.

I didn’t know initially that you could book time with your mentor every day, but when I realised this, Albert made himself available to answer my questions as they arose. At this point, my progress accelerated rapidly. This training is distinguished from other courses through its immediate feedback, if you choose to get it. I think that’s what really sets it apart – having that high level of support.

Because modern industries are prone to transformation, I think lots of people need to be prepared to reset themselves at some stage in their career. I would guess that this is one of the key traits that Academy Xi looks for in course participants – that willingness to take on the responsibilities that enable them to effect change in their careers. It’s a hard thing to pull-off, especially when you have other big responsibilities, but as Elon Musk puts it, sometimes you just need to ‘chew broken glass’.

Even with children and a full-time job, I actually completed the whole full-time course in five months. Factoring in my situation, I was really pleased with this timeline. Definitely one of the biggest rewards was being able to enhance my career and not neglect all my other life commitments. The course delivery is considerately designed for people who have lots going on. There’s also a part-time 10 month version of the same course. This might be a better option for anyone who wants that balance of career development and lifestyle. If you’ve got the drive and you’re willing to plan your time, everything you need to succeed is available.

This training is distinguished from other courses through its immediate feedback, if you choose to get it. I think that’s what really sets it apart – having that high level of support.”  – Barry Nguyen

 Why did you choose Academy Xi and what about the course experience did you value most?

We had worked with Academy Xi in the UI/UX space at my old startup and the projects really impressed me. That’s the main reason why I picked you guys over others – I’d already  collaborated with your students and the work was of a really high standard. It made the decision very easy to make. 

This whole experience has given me greater appreciation for the people giving others the opportunity to learn and develop. I started the course with a well-established career but was keen to diversify. My time with Academy Xi not only enabled me to build the tech skills I needed, but also helped me coordinate a roadmap that made diversification a reachable goal. Funnily enough, I’m back as an intern now. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken three steps back to go ten steps forward! It’s very humbling and I don’t take anything for granted. I’m adding to my skills and network daily with experienced professionals who are also more than happy to mentor. 

These days, my approach is to always keep a beginner’s mindset. The need to remain open to new ideas and possibilities never goes away. It seems to me that too many people gather a bit of knowledge or skill and then call themselves an expert. Whenever I hear someone describe themselves as an expert, alarm bells start ringing! I think a true expert realises that expertise is not something you arrive at. It’s an ongoing process – you can never know too much. 

I’m now noticing that companies in startup environments are struggling to find Software Engineers. Mostly because they’re demanding more and more money. Experienced engineers are often ridiculously well paid and enjoy the added luxury of a remote nine-to-five job. Luckily, the investment is growing and there are plenty of lower and medium tier roles available, which means anyone with the right skills can get their foot on the ladder. My situation is a big opportunity. Hopefully I can show others that you can make the leap from seemingly unrelated roles, like mine as a clinician, into tech.

Do you have any advice on course content and how you approached your work?

I think it takes a very clear, logical mind, and grit to complete this course. Maybe people who have been exposed to this type of learning before are more likely to succeed. They begin with a clearer understanding of what the course is going to be.

My experience on the course taught me that you can’t afford to work in an environment where you’ll be easily distracted. You really have to block-out your schedule, set-up the right conditions and keep a strong sense of how and when you work best. For those periods when you’re studying, it needs to be undistracted, deep, high-value work. This course requires an advanced level of critical analysis, problem solving and lateral thinking, so make sure you give yourself the time and space to perform these tasks to the best of your abilities.

The course is also pretty condensed – there’s a lot of learning crammed into five months. What you’re doing is really important and you can’t afford to take it lightly. Other than that, I would say, “don’t be limiting in your beliefs, just do it!”

How did you get on with your mentor and cohort?

Albert has a strong and sincere desire for all in his cohort to succeed. You guys did a great job finding him! Everybody wants a mentor who is available and willing to commit time outside of scheduled classes. Everyone needs feedback to progress in their learning. Albert was always happy to discuss my work and assist me with any problems that I had throughout the course. He’s not only knowledgeable, but also passionate. These characteristics really made the difference – it was obvious that he genuinely enjoyed working with the cohort and helping everybody produce their best work. He’s also a very holistic person and encouraged us to manage our wellbeing. Balancing hard work, health and happiness is probably the key to long-term success, and Albert made sure we kept that balance a priority.

Albert believes in long-term relationships that last beyond the five months. He’s still in contact today and pleased to help with my career as it’s unfolding. It’s like being part of a good school alumni where you make lasting friendships. The whole cohort collaborated on so many interesting projects together – we worked through hardships and brought things to fruition together. In the end, you walk away with connections that couldn’t be made at a networking event. The relationships are formed over time and really are built to last.

In the end, you walk away with connections that couldn’t be made at a networking event. The relationships are formed over time and really are built to last. ”  – Barry Nguyen

Why would you recommend the Software Engineering Transform course to startup founders and entrepreneurs?

For me, the course made a lot of financial sense. It cost close to $15,000, which was tax deductible, but gave me the knowledge and skills to develop new MVPs for the rest of my career. Gone are the days when I’ll be paying someone $50,000 to design one MVP without any guarantee that their work will match my initial ideas. For that reason alone, I believe most startup entrepreneurs will get real value for money with this course.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen Quote2

If you’re serious about creating a startup that succeeds, you need to have the tools to at least begin building it from the ground up. This doesn’t mean that a CTO or technical co-founder will do all the coding alone – it’s more about making sure that you have more than just soft skills. People always talk about soft skills, but they won’t always be enough to get the job done.

As Sam Altman, former President of Y Combinator advises in his blog post to aspiring tech founders, “Non-technical founder? Learn to hack.”

My qualification with Academy Xi has left me feeling less at risk – upskilling is one of the best ways to keep your tech contribution relevant and valuable. It’s also given me the confidence to follow through with my own software designs. I’ve found that having the ability to do certain things changes the conversations I have with people. I spoke to a venture capitalist the other day and he said, “You learned that? You created that?”. It has the potential to completely change what you’re working on and who you’re working with.

What’s next for you, Barry? 

Well, I’m finishing my internship and planning on doing everything I can to help my company succeed. The ultimate goal is to be an inspiration to others and create a notable Aussie company in health technology of a similar impact to the local startup ecosystem like Canva and Atlassian. I’m already building out my MVP and steadily getting that ready to launch. 

As I go, I’ll also be raising money for the project and drumming-up support through skilled partnerships. It would be great to involve Academy Xi at some stage, so watch this space!

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Brad Cluff

By Academy Xi

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Brad chats to us about the move back to his hometown and how studying Digital Marketing transformed the bottom line of his family’s hospitality business – with numbers up by 70%.

In 1995, Brad’s parents purchased an old school house at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Wallerawang NSW and transformed it into a now thriving hospitality business, Black Gold Motel. Over the years the venture has grown considerably to include a restaurant and conference centre and in 2020, Brad and his partner decided to make the move with their young children from their home in Sydney to help support the family enterprise.

Can you tell us a bit about the family business?

It was originally the Old Wallerawang school, built back in 1881, it has been here forever. My dad and grandfather and I were all students here over the years and I was school captain in year 6, but by then the school had moved into a new building. 

Dad is building 30 more units at the moment for the motel. I now work in a room which was my kindergarten classroom back in the day, which is weird but great.

What was happening in your life before studying at Xi?

I had finished my previous career in I.T in January 2020 and joined hospitality at an interesting time for the whole world – just as we had made the move to Lithgow, COVID hit.

In addition to the hotel, we have a restaurant with five chefs and nine apprentices, a busy little restaurant, so we went from bustling to shut down within three weeks of having moved up here.

I had been studying social media through a few influencers and I had a couple of my own businesses on the side but it wasn’t until I helped out a mate’s charity called ‘Walk ‘n Talk for Life’ with an event that I realised the power of digital marketing. There are issues with suicide in Lithgow and this charity does a lot to support people – I put together an event for them using social media. I created it out of nothing and 650 people showed up, in the snow. I wasn’t a marketer and this was possible. It blew my mind.

When I moved up here I was feeling that digital marketing was what I needed to do for the family business. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but decided to start building it up. 

With COVID we needed to keep people employed. To give them a purpose. We did food deliveries and I had to work out how to market that. We had a monopoly in the area and started from there – just organic, nothing paid and I started learning how to word things, focusing on supporting local and buying local, took lots of photos of our staff and told a story with that. 

How did you come to study Digital Marketing at Xi?

I felt like I was getting a grasp on social media and digital marketing on my own, but I was also very aware that I was making it up as I went along. I felt some actual training was the right way to go, to get some solid structure and direction.

I started looking into training options and knew that I really needed flexibility as I’ve got two young kids and I work 80 hours a week. There were a few options I was considering for training, but they didn’t seem to feel right and fit my learning style. 

I got chatting with the course advisors at Academy Xi, spoke with Olivia, she was great and talked me through it – she’d just completed the training herself, so that was a huge help to be able to discuss the course with someone who had experienced it first hand.

Have there been any training highlights for you so far?

A highlight was definitely my mentor, Jillian. I’ve done a lot of different training and knowing this was for my family business I was really engaged. Jillian was great to take specific business challenges too, not just discussing course content. I could contact her directly to bounce ideas off in the digital marketing space – she was very helpful. 

The content has been great too. It has been challenging, but totally worth it. Because of my search engine optimisation (SEO) awareness that I gained through the course I’m also able to talk to SEO specialists and I know if they’re doing their job properly and who to hire. Gillian helped advise on this too. It has empowered me with an understanding that I didn’t have before. 

“I chose to study Digital Marketing with Academy Xi to help my family business to thrive. The training has paid for itself already.”

Are you implementing your learning for your business marketing as you study?

I have used our business as my case study within the training, so I could implement it all as I have been learning, which is great. The training has been super practical, just what I needed.

Having a strategy has been the biggest thing. I didn’t have one before. We’ve got a conference and training set up here with a range of rooms we can use. I’m trying to build up a strategy around that so we can get a return on investment quickly. 

Before the course I wouldn’t have known how to set up a strategy. To know who to target, how and why, the buyer persona and how to write for that audience. Previously I was kind of doing it all intuitively, but didn’t have the bigger picture and framework to guide me.

“While doing the course, I’ve been implementing website changes and putting my digital marketing strategy into action. Our motel is up on average 70% growth in only one year. The restaurant revenue has also increased by 70%. 

Weekend motel bookings are up by at least 50% compared to the previous year. We are getting 60-70% occupancy on the weekends now, whereas before we were getting around 10%. The impacts from the digital marketing changes on the bottom line of the business have been huge.”

We haven’t heard the phone ring since we made the changes to the website because it has taken the pressure off the front reception desk, it’s all automated now. We have a restaurant booking system set up too, so bookings just turn up, they flow through to our point of sale system. 

Being able to measure that, it’s awesome. My parents didn’t have much faith in the tech side of things before, but now that they’ve seen the huge impact this has all had on the bottom line of the business, they’re happy for me to go ahead and do it – they can see the amazing outcomes it is continuing to make. We can see it’s working.

Would you recommend others who run their own businesses to do this course with Academy Xi?

Absolutely – I’ve already sent three business owners I know to check out Digital Marketing training at Academy Xi and I recommend it to anyone who needs digital marketing in their business, which let’s face it, is nearly every business. 

For small business owners to get their head into it and to understand digital marketing, whether they want to actually do it themselves or not, I totally recommend this training. It has been so helpful.

Planning a visit to Wallerawang? 

Want to ramp up your digital marketing efforts quickly, like Brad did? Check out Academy Xi’s Digital Marketing: Elevate and Digital Marketing: Transform courses.

Academy Xi Blog

4 ideas to help kick procrastination

By Academy Xi

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Many of us have made procrastination an art form; coming up with a myriad of ways to duck and weave and simply avoid whatever it is that needs to be done. 

And it’s not just about our ‘to do list’ for the day to day tasks that don’t light us up, such as the sink full of dirty dishes that I can see as I peer over the top of my laptop screen right now.

Procrastination is often connected to the bigger picture things that we want for ourselves and our lives – dreams and goals that we would love to make a reality.

It seems that many of us actively avoid what we truly want for ourselves. And the pile of dirty dishes.

So, why do we do it?

Much has been discussed and written on the topic and there are a number of theories as to why we procrastinate.

One theory suggests that it is a form of stress relief. Former lawyer turned author and motivational speaker, Mel Robbins, agrees with this view and urges people to recognise that they aren’t ‘procrastinators’ but that they have the ‘habit of procrastinating’. 

She believes that the main trigger for procrastination is always stress and that we procrastinate to avoid doing something and the reward we get for avoiding doing that thing is a bit of stress relief.

Another theory comes from behavioral psychology research. ‘Time inconsistency’ looks at how the human brain values immediate gains over future rewards. 

New Year’s Eve is a good example. We might create a few (or an extensive list…) of goals that we want to achieve over the coming 12 months. Our brains recognise that it would be a very good idea to take the regular actions needed to make these goals a reality. We could even imagine what it would be like in the future, once we have made the goal happen.

And for a few days, weeks or even months we may well take these daily actions that move us closer to meeting our goals. Yay for us.

But, research shows that when given the choice, our brains much prefer instant gratification to the longer term benefits of those now seemingly lofty goals we had set. When push comes to shove, our brains are more likely to nudge us toward the thing that gives us the immediate rewards over the actions necessary to achieve our longer term desires. 

How can we bust procrastination?

There are loads of tips, ideas and advice available for how to bust procrastination. We’ve rounded up a bunch to get you started.

Temptation Bundling

James Clear is the New York Times best selling author of “Atomic Habits”, which is well worth getting your hands/eyes/ears on, if you haven’t already.

One interesting idea he swears by for curbing procrastination and boosting willpower is called ‘temptation bundling.’

The basic idea is to do something that you love (or at least quite enjoy), while at the same time doing something that you tend to procrastinate on.

Some examples of temptation bundling he suggests include:

  • Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising 
  • Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails
  • Only binge watch the latest Netflix series while doing household chores

Whatever you choose, the basic format is: 

Only do (thing you love) while doing (thing you procrastinate on).

Like to know more about ‘Temptation Bundling’? Have a read of this article, which is an excerpt from ‘Atomic Habits’.

Do one thing

Mel Robbins, who we mentioned earlier, is an author and motivational speaker who is ‘teaching people how to improve their lives one decision at a time’. She suggests the following idea if you find yourself stuck in a procrastination rut at work or during study.

First up, acknowledge the stress

When you catch yourself procrastinating, stop and acknowledge that there is something (or a number of things) that you are stressed about. It doesn’t have to go deeper than purely acknowledging the fact you’re stressed about it.

Count back from 5 to 1

Once you’ve acknowledged the stress, count back: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Mel believes that counting back from 5 to 1 will interrupt the stress habit that is procrastinating.

Then do one thing

Right after counting back from five, choose one thing and work on it for only five minutes. The idea is that you are breaking the habit of avoidance by acknowledging the stress and shifting the focus to work, but only for the super short time of five minutes.

Research suggests that by stopping procrastination in its tracks, admitting to the stress and then working on one thing for just for five minutes, that at least 80% of people will be encouraged to keep going with the activity (as opposed to retreating back into the stress/procrastination cycle).

You can check out more tips and ideas (or as she calls them ‘Pep Talks for Life’) from Mel Robbins on YouTube.

30 day procrastination diet

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I see or hear the word ‘diet’ I am about as far from motivated or excited as I can get.

But this one doesn’t involve ditching my favourite treats (unless, of course, that is something I have been procrastinating about, and well then, it might be included in this following idea after all. Dammit).

Canadian born writer, Robin Sharma, is best known for penning the book series, ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’. He writes and speaks about anything and everything to do with stress management and spirituality.

One of his many tactics to stop fanning the flames of procrastination is the idea of a 30 day procrastination diet. Sharma says that by sticking to the plan for a full 30 days, we will be retraining our subconscious mind, which apparently runs 95% of our life.  

He suggests we get started sooner rather than later and just get going (as in, not procrastinate about it…)

Every day for 30 days you have to choose something that you’ve been resisting and do it. The action or activity needs to be different each day and could be as simple as making your bed right after waking up in the morning. Exercising first thing. Public speaking. Decluttering your wardrobe. Doing your tax return. Paying a bill. Calling your gran. Whatever you have been putting off.

The idea being, that as you start to do more things that you’ve been resisting, you are rewiring the brain and training it to be in action around resistance.

When you do the things that you have been resisting, you take back the power that you gave to the things you were resisting. And in doing so Sharma claims that we will increase our energy, willpower, confidence and personal power. Sounds like it might be worth a crack…

Sharma doesn’t specify to do so, but I would imagine it would help to brain dump a list of 30 things before you begin the month to avoid scrambling day to day to come up with stuff to action. Just a thought.

Robin Sharma shares a whole stack of ideas and tactics to ditch procrastination in this video on his YouTube channel.

Hypnosis

For some the mention of hypnosis may conjure up images of a person in a deep trance being told to behave like a chicken on a stage in front of a large audience of onlookers.

If you can separate the idea of hypnosis from this image for a moment, you may be interested to know that it can have a lasting positive effect on your procrastinating ways.

Hypnosis works by encouraging the participant to drop into a very relaxed state, usually through a guided visualisation, and once in this deep state, suggestions are made to redirect the thinking that takes place in the subconscious mind, to encourage more useful and beneficial thoughts and ideas.

Many people have used this approach to assist with a wide range of issues, from quitting smoking and easing social anxiety to improving sports performance.

The cool thing is, you don’t necessarily have to go to a hypnotist. There are downloadable tracks available online, at fairly reasonable prices.

There’s a selection of options for overcoming procrastination on the popular site, Hypnosis Downloads.

If all else fails…laugh

Tim Urban has never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. His TedTalk, ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’, is insightful, hilarious and incredibly relatable and has over a whopping 41 million views.

Grab some popcorn and give yourself 15 minutes to watch it….technically it’s not procrastinating…it’s ‘research’…just try to avoid spending two hours watching cute kitten videos afterwards.

Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

By Academy Xi

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UX UI Transform student, Yuka, managed to land herself a coveted role with Westpac before even completing her studies. We had a chat to discover more about her journey in the world of User Experience Design.

Student Spotlight: Yuka Mochizuki

Hi Yuka. How much longer have you got to go with your studies?

I’m over half way now in the full-time UX UI Design Transform course with Hayden Peters. I think I have about a month to go.

And you’ve already landed yourself a great job!

Yes, at Westpac. My job title is Service Designer, but it’s a mix of UX, UI, CX and service design. I’m currently working on youth banking. The UX UI Transform course has definitely given me the experience of what an end-to-end project is like. Now being in the workplace I’m learning how to apply it to the job at hand. The scale of the projects I’m working on is huge, but the training has provided me with a strong foundation. Unfortunately because of COVID I haven’t actually been into the office yet.

Hopefully that changes soon. Can you tell us a bit about life before Xi?

I was a university student – I graduated with a Bachelor of Design from UNSW in January this year (2021), majoring in Graphic Design. There was an interaction subject offered during my last year and I thought I’d just give it a try – it was something new. The process was interesting and really different from graphic or fashion design, where you’re given a brief and you do it. 

I was working as a junior print and graphic designer at my local printing shop while I studied and once I had graduated I felt like I was wasting my time. I wanted to advance further into my design career, but I didn’t know how to do it. I needed to do something to make that career shift happen. 

I looked online to see what was available training wise. Initially I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I thought about the interaction course I had done at uni that I really enjoyed, so I thought maybe I could try UX UI Design. 

How did you arrive at choosing Academy Xi for your training?

I decided to go with UX UI Transform at Academy Xi because I had a few friends who recommended this course specifically. I thought you know what, I’m just going to go with it. And here I am now studying – it has been great.

How have you found your training so far? Any highlights?

I was talking to the friends who recommended the course – the first of my friends is now a Product Designer, the course worked well for her and she spoke very highly of her instructor, Hayden. Another friend was doing the same course, part-time.  We were discussing the importance of teachers when you’re training in anything and how you want to have someone who is truly passionate about what they’re teaching – and the difference their enthusiasm can make to your experience. 

So I decided to go for the full-time option and off my friend’s recommendation I wanted to have Hayden as my instructor. I didn’t want to go part-time, I’d already spent three years at university doing my bachelor’s, I was ready to just get into it. 

“I went in with high expectations, which were all met. I totally understand why people recommend this course, and in particular, Hayden.”  – Yuka Mochizuki

With the first project taking place over seven weeks, we were learning about the design process as we were doing the actual assessment, and it has been really helpful. It refreshed my memory and validated a lot of things for me.

How did the job come about while studying?

With the graphic design industry it can be pretty frustrating because there are often roles pitched as ‘junior’ requiring more than two years of experience or skills that aren’t graphic design, like video editing or marketing or social media. I found it really hard to land anything in graphic design because of that. I didn’t want to be the person who did a million things. That’s not what I trained in.

I had been actively looking for jobs for the past two years, while I was studying graphic design at university and working at the print shop. I was searching on all the job sites and LinkedIn, I had all the email notifications set up. I’ve been proactive.

The Westpac role I landed was through Hatch. Each week they load new jobs, you answer some questions and do a small video of yourself. 

Did the training you completed help you land the Westpac job?

Yes, it was a major factor – it absolutely enabled me to get the job with Westpac. When I did the interview with them, I was about 75% through my first project – which was a mobile app for sustainability and recycling and featured a smart bin. 

I was prepared to answer standard interview questions, but the interviewer asked me to walk her through a digital project that I loved. So I was able to use my project. I took her through my work and discussed my design process, explaining that it was not yet complete, but that didn’t matter – she was really impressed with it. 

After a few days she put me in touch with others in her team that whoever would be successful in the interview process would be working with, so I got to talk with them as well. I feel that if it hadn’t been for this project within the UX UI Design Transform course, that I wouldn’t have been able to get the job. It gave me the chance to clearly demonstrate my skills and understanding of the full design process. 

Are you working with any mentors?

I have been paired with a mentor, Vikas Bhutani, through Academy Xi’s Designer-In-Residence program. He’s the CX UX Lead at Kmart and having him as a mentor is great. If I have any questions I note them down and take them to him. And since last year I have a mentor from Canva, as well as Hayden

Any other areas of study that interest you?

I think psychology. Being able to understand people and work with them in general. There are times when it’s really difficult to work with people – having that background would help. My dad’s studying it, so we have chats about different things.

Coming from three different backgrounds, I’m interested to know how culture could impact UX UI. I want to learn different things that can be added to my training.

I have the ambition to learn design outside of Australia too – places like New York or Amsterdam, or even Japan. Different cultures. Once everything is safer and we can travel again and I have a few years of experience, I might delve into that.

Once this course ends I might sign up as a mentor with Academy Xi.

Best of luck with your new role and the rest of your studies, Yuka! We hope you can get into the Westpac office soon (at the time of writing, Sydney was in extended lockdown).

I really find it beneficial – having someone there to guide me, especially if I don’t know how to do a certain thing. They give tips and ideas that you might not have heard of before.