When Macarena Muniz moved to the United States from her native Chile, she thought that her previous job experience might not be weighed accurately when competing for positions with local applicants. So she decided to broaden her skill set and gain valuable experience in American cultural and business ideas.
It’s not like she was starting from scratch, of course. Macarena completed a 5-year bachelor of design degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the No. 1 university in Latin America. There, she had the opportunity to focus on design thinking across a broad range of disciplines, including fashion, industrial, graphic and user experience (UX).
During her studies, she also worked in user-interface (UI) website design, including the creation of a social platform, Comparte la Calle, that engaged approximately 100,000 people by connecting individuals to their community.
Once in the United States, Macarena began looking for a program that would build on her previous education and give her a competitive edge when it came time to landing a job.
"Coming to UC Berkeley Extension was one of the best decisions I have made in my life."
Macarena knew that she wanted an in-person program for the live discussions, opportunity to make new friends, ability to present her work in front of the class and get immediate feedback from her instructor.
A Little Help With a Big Decision
With an F-1 Visa in hand, Macarena was ready to dive into her studies. She chose our Professional Program in User Experience (UX) Design because it offers:
- full-time study to fulfill her Visa requirements
- resources to help international students
- in-class options that would challenge her, develop her UX skills and prepare her for design career
Her first class was Diagramming and Prototyping for UX, taught by Ashley Pfahler. There, she created a mobile app for travel planning from scratch, beginning with research and ending up with a finished product. The app personalized your travel journey by collecting data on your preferences through fun quizzes.
Macarena also enthuses about her User-Interface (UI) Design class, taught by Manny Darden. During that course, she worked with a team and discussed the why’s behind the designs. One of the highlights of that course was presenting their team designs to senior designers at prestigious companies. For this assignment, she and her team members created a mobile app to shepherd DMV visitors through the license application process.
“Coming to UC Berkeley Extension was one of the best decisions I have made in my life,” Macarena says. “I not only learned a ton from very prestigious professors, but I also had the opportunity to do an amazing internship.”
Success In the Working World, Too
Since completing the program, Macarena has moved to Utah, where she began networking to help find an internship that would give her ample opportunities to hone her new craft. She interned at data-analytics company Claravine during the summer, working as the firm’s only designer.
During her internship, the firm was in the process of building a complex SaaS platform. Macarena participated in the entire design process—from creating task flows to final high-fidelity screens. The experience was a good fit for both sides, and she still enthuses over her time there.
“I love this project not only because it was an amazing challenge, but also because I fell in love with the product and the team.”
Take Macarena’s Advice
It’s clear from Macarena that she has a lot of enthusiasm and talent to succeed in her career.
If you are interested in a career in UX Design, let Macarena ease some of your concerns and give you insight into what the field is really like, from the inside:
“What I love about the program is that there are students with very different backgrounds. Some of them are scared because they don't have a graphic design background or because they have never worked with digital interfaces before.
I think that the most important thing about UX is the process. It is much more than just building screens. It starts with research, analyzing data, ideation, prototyping.
You don't need to be an artist for any of those steps. For me, UX is closer to science than art.”
You can see a bit more of Macarena’s designs on her website.
Create your own design success story with the Professional Program in UX Design.
If you are an international student looking to pursue a career in UX Design, visit the UX and UI Immersives, which allow you to apply for internships and Optional Practical Training (OPT).