Designing a New Career Path

International alumna, Letizia Fara reflects on her in-person and online UX/UI learning experience

Letizia Fara experienced a full educational experience while building up her résumé:

Fall 2019: an in-person program
Spring 2020: a digital-learning program
Today: an internship

After receiving her bachelor's degree in industrial and communication design from Politecnico di Torino in Italy, Letizia had dreams of becoming a designer. However, she never thought it would end up being in User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI).

During her undergraduate studies, Letizia gained the basic knowledge in design theory, but she wanted to further her education before entering the job market. She always envisioned herself living and working in the United States one day. To make that dream a reality, she first had to improve her English-language skills. Being advanced in the language was crucial for her to be accepted into a certificate program and to potentially be employed in the U.S. one day.

After looking into several English-language programs, she chose Brandon College in San Francisco, California. Letizia immediately hopped on a plane and traveled 6,000 miles to her new home.

After just a few months of enjoying her new life in the Bay Area, Letizia began to think more about studying design. It didn’t take long for Berkeley Global to come into the picture. Letizia’s English-language skills were drastically improving, helping her feel more prepared to successfully apply for a full-time UX/UI certificate program.

And in Fall 2019, Letizia began a new chapter at Berkeley Global.

Letizia, tell us what made you choose to study at Berkeley Global?

I liked that the program was very practical. I could build my portfolio and do many different types of projects. I also wanted to learn the ins and outs of UX/UI design while practicing the skills I learned in class.

The internship portion of the program also caught my attention. I always had an interest in starting a career in the United States. I figured an internship would be a great opportunity and next step toward that.

What courses stood out to you?

My Design Thinking and UX Strategy course taught by Christina Pappas was one of my favorites.  The class really showed me what I enjoy doing within the UX/UI field. I love working in teams, learning techniques of design thinking, and conducting user tests and interviews. This course allowed me to do all of that in different ways.

This class also included some of my favorite projects. With a team of four, we conducted research on the entire experience one takes on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system. We first discovered the problem: People tend to not have a positive experience on BART.

We created a paper prototype of a drawing app that would connect mobile phones with screens or projectors inside the local public transport service. The goal was to provide a more positive experience on public transportation. With our prototype, children can learn, increase their creativity and have fun while traveling. The parents and other riders can be at ease during their ride, in a pleasant environment. The drawings can be viewed by everyone on the subway so others can be both entertained and inspired.

 

 

I also worked on a case study where I created a mock website for the San Francisco Public Library. The goal was to design a more user-friendly web page to better connect with their audience. I did research on the current website, assessed the user needs and came up with wireframes for my version of the website.

 

How did a Berkeley Global and an Italian classroom differ?

In Italy, the class size is very large and the professor just gives a lesson without a discussion. At Berkeley Global, I felt that each class was more of a conversation among classmates. I felt honored to be taught by instructors who want to listen and hear your opinion.

With a classroom maximum of 30 students, I felt like I was able to learn and work with others more. We had a lot of team activities or breakout rooms when studying remotely.

What was your experience like studying remotely your second semester?

Even though during the second semester I couldn't meet up with the other students and study together at the campus as I did during the first semester, overall it was a great experience. I feel the virtual setting didn't impact my learning curve. All of the instructors did their best to make each class as engaging as it was in person through interactive activities and group conversations. When you get used to it, studying remotely has advantages, too.

Tell me about your internship.

After my second semester in the UX/UI program, I applied for the Professional Internship Program. I was accepted at a company called Luminance Learning, where I am currently working now.

During this internship, I have built e-learning modules that cover corporate finance and strategy subjects areas. The company will present what type of online courses they are looking for. From there, I design, build and test out the modules. My goal is to ensure their e-learning courses are engaging and interactive. One of my favorite parts of my role is conducting the user tests with both the learners and buyers. They are able to test the demos and provide any feedback so I can assess what area of the module needs to be improved.

Luminance Learning then sells these e-learning courses to different companies. We are currently working with two of the biggest tech businesses in Silicon Valley as our clients.

 

“I have been able to take so much of what I learned in the program to this internship. I now feel confident taking a black-and-white draft of what the company wants and turning it into a demo,” Letizia shares.

 

How did our courses fit with your professional goals?

Academically, it has helped me learn what UX/UI is all about and get a thorough knowledge of it.

Professionally, I am now putting everything I have learned into practice at my internship. I have been able to build up my résumé, portfolio and even my personal brand. I did not have a portfolio before Berkeley Global, and now having this will help me when I begin the search for my future career after my internship completes.

Why do you think other international students should take our courses?

It is an amazing experience and you are able to build so many new relationships. The program allows you to work with very experienced and knowledgeable professors who have worked in Silicon Valley themselves. You also really push yourself out of your comfort zone in many ways. All of the projects are very impactful and help you gain the experience you need for your career in the field.

What were your top 5 things to do in Berkeley?

1. I enjoyed going to UC Berkeley campus. I was able to meet so many people in places such as the gym and library.
2. I would often try all of the different restaurants that Berkeley has to offer with my friends.
3. I loved to visit San Francisco on the weekends.
4. Visiting different places in California was fun such as Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.
5. I found many different networking events to attend. These were great ways to meet new people and learn about different subject areas from professionals.

What advice would you give a student on how to best succeed?

Enjoy the entire experience as best you can. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Get involved in activities, networking events, and build relationships with your professors and other students!