Creating Social Impact with Inclusive Design: Ana Chávez’s Journey to UX/UI

Ana Chávez graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in sociology and a passion for understanding how people’s behavior and background shape their future. At the time, law felt like the next logical step in pursuing this passion. 

Yet, after two years as a paralegal, Ana realized that this path wasn’t what she had envisioned. “It wasn’t a good fit for me. It didn’t align with my strengths or who I was,” she explained. 

Determined to find her calling, Ana sought out a career coach who analyzed her strengths and weaknesses in a series of assessments. He gave her a list of potential careers, one of which was UX/UI designer. This new opportunity to apply a sociological lens to the way people interact with technology immediately stood out to Ana. 

When her career coach explained the value of a certification course that could help her make the transition, Ana started researching different options. “The Columbia Engineering UX/UI Boot Camp was really comprehensive and offered coding — which many of the other boot camps didn’t,” she said. Ana was sold. 

Gaining experience along the way

“I began the boot camp without any previous design experience or knowledge of UX/UI,” shared Ana. “Most people in my cohort had some background knowledge, but I wasn’t worried because I was motivated.” 

Despite Ana’s limited experience, a new love for UX/UI quickly emerged. She realized her analytical, creative mind was well-suited to the field — and wasted no time finding opportunities to catch up to her peers. 

She applied to various volunteer internships at non-profit organizations, including The CHAD Foundation, Queer Global, and CANVS Street Art — all of which are creating social impact. 

In these roles, Ana applied her newfound skills to collaborate with creative directors, support design consistency, and create a more inclusive web experience. 

Maximizing the boot camp experience

While applying her skills in real time through different internships, Ana was also fully tuned into learning and collaborating. One of her favorite moments from the boot camp was building an app with her team. 

“I’m really proud of the Lovely Curly app we created. This app helps people with curls learn how to take care of their hair properly, with the right products for their curl type. This project was personal for me because I grew up straightening my hair and had to learn how to embrace my curls when I got older,” she shared. 

For Ana, UX/UI is about empowering people with humanizing technology and inclusive design. 

Finding her place 

Ana finished the boot camp as the salutatorian, with the second-highest grade of all her peers. In February 2021, she immersed herself in the job search process and leaned on the Workforce Engagement team for support. After an intensive screening process, she landed a UX Design Apprenticeship at Google. 

“The boot camp really helped me find myself and my passion, which wasn’t something I knew right out of college. It was definitely difficult because I felt like I was the underdog of my cohort, but that only motivated me further,” she said. 

Ready to discover something new about yourself? Explore the Columbia Engineering Boot Camps today.

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