It didn’t take long for UX Academy graduate Hannah Cunningham to land on the island of her dream job as a Product Designer at Royal Caribbean Cruises once she set her eyes on it.

“When I relocated, I went a little crazy and added virtually everyone that popped up as a designer in Miami on LinkedIn. The design manager at Royal Caribbean happened to be one of those people, and shortly after we connected, he posted ‘Anyone looking for a product design role in Miami?’”

Following an initial phone interview, she was brought in for a portfolio panel review, and then a meeting with the product team. Hannah was offered the position on the car ride home from that interview.

She cites having a solid presentation prepared for the panel review as being a key reason she was able to land the job. “My mentors were so helpful in preparing to speak with the product team to better understand what they were looking for in a new designer.”

Hannah Cunningham Royal Caribbean UX Academy Design

Screens from one of Hannah’s UX Academy capstone projects

Before enrolling in our Design 101 short course, and then UX Academy, Hannah had a year of post-college experience working in marketing. 

“Product design seemed like it took everything from my interests and background and combined it into one perfect career. It challenges me, meets my creative needs, allows me to impact user’s, and surrounds me with people who help me grow as a creative.”

Once she found Designlab, she knew it would be a cost effective way to pivot careers.

“I’m very privileged to have supportive parents that were willing to help me make the switch. I knew I wasn't going to love going to work if I stayed in marketing. If I wanted to feel driven in my career, I knew I had to do something else.”

Enrolling in UX Academy full-time gave Hannah the opportunity to become fully immersed in the world of product design, confirming her interest in this new career path.

“I really think I learned more in UX Academy than I did my entire four years of business school. I hope this ‘trade school’ type education is the future.”

Making the switch from marketing to product design is now paying off both financially and emotionally, as Hannah has doubled her salary, and is now feeling fulfilled by her career.

She’s been able to use her marketing and business studies and experiences to help her communicate with her new product team at Royal Carribean about business needs and goals. 

“Being able to empathize with non-design team members is huge!” Whether deciding on scope for the sprint or understanding technical constraints early on, she’s found it’s always helpful to be able to speak their language and understand their concerns. 

Hannah Cunningham Royal Caribbean UX Academy Design

Now, her 2020 goal is to learn the basics of coding so she can better empathize with engineers.

She’s currently working with two other designers on an employee-facing mobile product. In this role, Hannah focuses on the design of a product holistically, including UX, UI, visual, interaction design and anything in between. 

“I’ve learned more in the last seven months with Royal Carribean than I could have imagined! Design leadership does an amazing job at hiring for growth. I truly consider every person on our 40 person design team a mentor of mine. We have many bootcamp graduates, and a handful of my co-workers have even signed up for Designlab short courses to expand or improve their skill sets, too.”

Hannah Cunningham Royal Caribbean UX Academy Design

The mentorship aspect of UX Academy proved to be extremely beneficial for Hannah, and is something she raves about to anyone interested in UX Academy. “My mentor, Paul, exceeded all of my expectations. He's like the poster child for mentors.”

What’s Hannah’s advice for incoming, current, and graduating UX Academy students? “You may feel fatigued, especially during the job hunting process. But that’s okay, it means you’re working hard. My advice is to make more personal connections and do less cold applying. A good intro online or in-person at a meetup can work wonders.”

“The skills you learn through UX Academy prepare you to be a successful designer. If you put in the work and make the connections, you’ll look back and be so glad you took the leap.”

Check out Hannah’s portfolio, or connect on LinkedIn!

Interested in becoming a product designer? Check out our UX Academy program, which prepares you with a full set of both UX and UI design skills, and at least four substantial projects for your portfolio. Find out more

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Alexa Harrison

Content Writer

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