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Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Oshi Paranavitane

By Academy Xi

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While studying her Masters in Design, Oshi felt she needed something more. Then she discovered User Experience.

Life before Xi?

I did my Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design and worked in the industry for five years in Sri Lanka. I was an art director in an advertising agency for two years, then moved to a boutique digital agency working in the creative team and eventually became a brand identity designer. After two years working there, I made the move to Australia to join my husband and study my Masters in Design.

During my Masters in Sydney, I took a few units on interaction design and loved it. I would’ve liked to have done more units in this area, but wasn’t able to due to the structure of the university electives, but I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.

What encouraged you to study with Academy Xi?

The Masters in Design felt like it was lacking in terms of industry connections and job opportunities. I needed something more. While I was applying for graphic design jobs here in Sydney, I came across Academy Xi in my social feed – a promotion for the UX UI Design Transform course

After having already done a Bachelors and Masters in Design, the decision to do more study didn’t come lightly. I wanted to make sure that the training I was going to do ticked the right boxes for me and offered what I needed. 

I started researching, read a lot of glowing online reviews about the UX UI Design Transform course, which definitely influenced my decision. This was further reinforced by what I found on LinkedIn – lots of graduates talking so positively about their experiences with Xi in general and specifically their training in UX. I could see there was a strong alumni network, all working in the industry and even more great reviews. 

UX UI Design Transform sounded like it covered everything I was seeking. And it certainly did. 

Were there any training highlights you’d like to mention?

The first few weeks with our instructor Hayden were the main highlight for me. Hayden is amazing! We covered the Double Diamond framework and the entire UX design process with him. The depth he went into and the amount of information he shared with us – it was just so valuable to get that. I knew a little bit about the process from some of the units I took in my Masters degree, but it paled in comparison to the depth of detail provided by Hayden and the overall Xi training. 

Real client projects form a part of the UX UI Design Transform training. Can you share with us your experience of working on these projects?

We did two real client projects and both times we were put into project groups within our cohort – I really enjoyed this hands-on aspect of the training.

Our first project was working with IO Energy, a South Australian energy company. My project team and I worked on the customer sign up journey on their website. It worked out really well for us as a group and our learning and the client was very pleased with the outcome too. It was interesting to learn about the energy sector – so much new information and it’s definitely a sector I’d like to work in. Challenging, interesting and important. 

Doing the real life client projects gave us a genuine idea of what it would be like to work with clients in industries we might not be familiar with. Part of the job is discovering what the organisation or industry is about, understanding the jargon used and navigating how to best serve the needs of the client. This project exposed us to all of those things.

My second project was focusing on Anglicare in Sydney. As I am based in Sydney – I was invited, along with another team member, to actually go to one of the retirement homes in Castle Hill. We met some of the village managers and other staff, had onsite interviews and they took us through some of the processes they use in the centres. It was really nice to be able to conduct on-site research – I very much enjoyed that element of this project.

I also really enjoyed being able to actively apply the Double Diamond design framework to both of these design sprints. We got to see each step of the process in action and test out our new learning and skills. 

Online experience

With my final year of Masters in Design at University, everything went online due to the covid pandemic. Like many other universities and colleges, the transition from face to face learning to online was very quick due to the circumstances. I found that final year of online study to be really isolating and not at all engaging. The class sizes were really big, so it didn’t feel personalised and there just wasn’t the set up for any social interaction or engagement. With a Masters, there is also the fact that you don’t take the same classes as everyone else, so I didn’t get to know anyone I was studying with. It was hard.

Academy Xi online training was completely different. I made so many new connections and I felt a sense of community that I didn’t with university training. The class sizes were small, so we actually got to know each other – it was way more engaging.

My first project group included all Sydney based students, so we met up in person a few times both for our project work and socially – we still keep in contact now that we’ve finished our course. I genuinely feel that I made good friends from the experience. 

At the end of the course we had an online party – we played pictionary together, it was really fun, a great group of people. So despite the lockdown I had a community and really valued the social connection. 

Did you benefit from additional mentorship during your training?

Yes, (my mentor) Anna Paramita – she’s a UX Designer from Melbourne working for Suncorp and is totally amazing. It was very beneficial to have someone already working in the industry who was there to support and encourage me while training. We could really relate to each other’s experiences. I’m quite introverted so making connections isn’t my thing, but I challenged myself during this course to step up and reach out to people, which was new for me but I understand the importance of it. 

Anna recommended some books to read and was generally so supportive – it was a great experience with her, amazing advice. We are keeping in touch and I’m hoping to reconnect with her after the lock down. 

Anna is part of Xi’s Designer-in-Residence program. Read more about the program and how it benefits both Mentors and students.

Career Support 

I am now in the Career Support program where I’ve received guidance on my resume, which is now being shared around the industry contacts by Xi. I’m actively looking for a UX job now and have applied for a couple of positions. I’m open to working freelance, but would like to land an in-house role to start with.  

Ideally I would like to work in a large corporate organisation to begin with, because that way I will be more likely to get to work with a senior UX designer and learn from them on the job, but any UX experience to begin with will be great.

Would you recommend studying UX UI Design with Xi?

Yes, absolutely. Funnily enough, just after I finished my course, I posted on my LinkedIn profile my digital badge that we all received and someone I’m not even connected to randomly messaged me on LinkedIn and asked how I found the experience as they were thinking of studying it too. I would 100% recommend studying UX UI Design Transform at Academy Xi. 

We can’t wait to hear all about the next stage of your journey, Oshi! 

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Keen to study UX UI Design? Whether you’re just starting out your career, want to study part-time, we have several flexible training options. Learn more here