Dina Williams is a Product Designer for Funsize, a digital product agency based in Austin, TX. She is a recent graduate of Austin Community College’s Visual Communication Program. We worked closely in my portfolio class. Recently, we had an opportunity to catch up on her experience after school, finding work, and collaborating with others.
How did you get into UX design?
I started off in film school at Arizona State. At the time, it seemed like a good fit. I was really interested in storytelling, and I wanted to learn how to do it through film. After I started the program, I felt that the industry did not encourage collaboration. Everyone was trying to be the next genius with an amazing idea. This made it very hard to get anything done.
I left the program, but I still wanted to pursue the craft of storytelling. From what I had heard, Austin seemed like a creative place where I could reboot my journey. That was also when I found Austin Community College (ACC).
The college had a few design courses, and it was easy for me to dip my toes in to try. Eventually, I took Intro to User Experience Design, and I thought, “this is it!” UX was everything I wanted out of film from a creative storytelling perspective. Plus, I was empowered to solve problems.
The culture on design teams also encouraged collaboration. There were no heros.
What was your experience at ACC?
I love learning. With every assignment, I evaluated what the teacher expected, and then I considered what I wanted get out of it too.
The courses covered the basics, but I knew that I had to go beyond that to level my skills up. There were a lot of people with the same mindset and drive to go beyond the class, get out, and do things.
There were gems (in each class). They are your team who will help you get better.
In each class, there were gems. These were people that I could work with, had a complimentary skill set, and were also looking to team up with others to get better. Over time we became a team to help out on homework and participate in other activities like hack-a-thons.
You could not do this on your own. I saw people try, and it was very hard for them.
How has your transition from student to full time been?
When I left school, I had a very hard time with not tinkering on my portfolio. I always asked, “should I take this extra class,” or “should I study this new skill?” This was mostly because I was not confident in my level.
I am still not confident with my visual skills, and I still ask my co-workers for feedback. They help me with things like padding and contrast. Only recently, I feel that I am getting to a place where the feedback is only a short list of items.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to design students?
You are always learning, but so is everyone else. It is not something that you have to do alone. There are people who can help, but you also have to think about what things you can teach others too.
Read about other designers from the ACC Visual Communication Program.
Ravi Morbia on Rejection and Getting Hired
James Hyland on Shifting from Music to UX