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25 March 2021 - 8 minutes

The Journey of a Career Dreamer

From Architecture to UX/UI Design with Ironhack Miami

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education



UX/UI Design

The American Dream is one of the most sought-after achievements in the world.  Many people relocate their whole lives, leave behind established careers and loved ones for their one shot in the United States. It’s common to hear success stories glamorize successful immigrants who’ve risked it all and made it. Steve Jobs was the son of political migrants from Syria and Jeff Bezos father came from Cuba alone at 16 for the American Dream. However, access and opportunities are not equal for everyone.  Most importantly, we do not hear the stories of children who grew up in America and consider this home.  Children are raised to be American but are denied the same basic rights as everyone else.  Our government system considers these individuals temporary visitors, which creates barriers when it comes to receiving financial aid, getting a job, equal access to healthcare, risk of deportation, and more. These children are known as DREAMer’s.  The term “DREAMer” originally took its name from the Dream Act,  to describe young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have big hopes and dreams for a better future. 

In 2001, the DREAM Act was presented to congress.  This Act would have granted legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and went to school here under certain requirements. Although several versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress since 2001, it never passed. In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program was established which gave undocumented immigrants the ability to work legally, but these individuals wouldn’t be considered residents—a status that can make affording college and other financial investments difficult.

Finally, on March 18th, 2021 the House passed two proposals that would legalize subsets of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission. According to an article published by CBS “The proposal would allow more than 2.3 million "Dreamers," or unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, as well as beneficiaries of certain temporary humanitarian programs, to gain permanent legal status and eventually, U.S. citizenship.” 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has urged lawmakers to pass immigration reform. Recently posted on Instagram of his father and him in front of the Statue of Liberty. 

“I want to thank the Congressional leaders who will bring Dreamers legislation to the House floor tomorrow. My dad was a “Dreamer” before there was such a thing. He was 16 when he came to America, all by himself, from Cuba. He didn’t speak English and didn’t have an easy path. What he did have was grit, determination, and the support and kindness of people here in the U.S. who helped him. He received a scholarship to college in Albuquerque, where he met my mom. On behalf of my dad and families like mine, I’m hopeful that policymakers will come together to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and prioritize more commonsense immigration reforms like reducing the green card backlog. Families across America deserve this.”

Ironhack is a Global Tech Bootcamp, with our US HQ based out of Miami, Florida.  Every 9 weeks students embark on a journey to change their lives by completing one of our web development or user interface design bootcamps.  Bootcamps bridge the gap between the current demand for technical jobs and individuals with a non-technical background.  Usually, at less than a fourth of a cost of 4-year institutions with greater career prospects in your field of training.  Bootcamps like Ironhack have been known for increasing diversity in tech. 

Ironhack looks for ways to give back to the communities we operate in. We prioritize scholarship opportunities and increasing access to those who need it the most.   In 2018, Ironhack launched a scholarship with Uber to create an avenue for individuals to break into tech.  Out of the thousands who applied, a particular person stood out for his determination and positive can-do attitude.   

Meet Carlos Arevalo, Senior Product Designer @ Apollo GraphQL.  Here is his personal journey on making it in America. 

Carlos’ Journey 

Carlos, came to the United States with his mom and brother in 2000, when he was 6 years old.  He grew up like a normal kid attending elementary, middle, and graduated from high school in Miami, Florida. When it came time to apply for colleges, Carlos started to see that he didn't have the same opportunities as his other peers and was limited with where he could go to further his education.  When your status is “undocumented”, you are unable to qualify for financial aid and forced to pay out of pocket. Even after receiving a scholarship to an out-of-state private institution to play rugby, he had to turn it down because he couldn’t apply for financial aid.    He remembers “ In 2012 the Obama Administration, enacted an immigration policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also known as. “DACA”.  DACA gave access to hundreds of thousands of people, to get driver's licenses, and work eligibility.   

The first thing Carlos did was go get his license and his first job working at a supermarket.  He also enrolled in Miami Dade College to become an architect. To attend Miami Dade College, he not only had to pay out of pocket but also out-of-state tuition.  DACA was still not that well known at the time which created additional barriers. Despite having to pay out of pocket Carlos was determined to make a better life for himself and his family. He was working 3-4 jobs at any given time while taking classes.  After graduating from Miami Dade College with his Associates in Architecture, he was accepted into Florida International University’s accelerated Master’s Program for Architecture.   He was again faced with paying out of pocket for his education due to his immigration status.  Ultimately, he was forced to drop out of college.  He thought this was the turning point in his life where he would never go back to school. 

One day, Carlos was waiting for an Uber when he saw the Ironhack x Uber scholarship pop up on his phone.  Curious he looked more into it and applied it to the UX/UI Program.  He made it through the technical assessment, and now it was time to show why he deserved the full scholarship to attend Ironhack. After a long day of interviewing, he remembers receiving the call from the General Manager. “Hey Carlos, so we have been talking and I want to congratulate you on being selected as one of our Uber scholarship recipients, Welcome to Ironhack.” At that moment we both became emotional.  I could tell that that call had changed his life and he was grateful for that. 

Carlos’ instructor David Fast remembers him as a student. “ At Ironhack we talk a lot about failure and iteration. During our Agile lessons especially, we tell our students to “Fail Forward” and “Fail Fast.” However, not many students grasp the true value of those concepts enough. During final projects, I remember Carlos locking himself in a room surrounded by whiteboards, pulling all-nighters. His research led him to pivot his design process and he ended up doing five days of work over two days.   He was never afraid to fail forward and fail fast.  I’m proud of the mature designer he has challenged himself to become!”  His final project was a site design called Dream. Dream is a professional network for Dreamers, to find opportunities that match their skills and aspirations.  You can read more about his process and project here

“Ironhack gave me the fundamentals to break into the UX industry. “ 

Carlos went on to graduate from the UX/UI program and challenged himself to have a job offer at the end of the nine weeks. After graduation, Carlos had multiple interview opportunities. He attributes his success to:

  • Immersing himself in the world of UX by continuing his research and learning 

  • Networking with his classmates, Ironhack alumni, and others in the tech industry

  • Working hard and never giving up even when things got tough

  • Staying positive

  • Ironhack Career Coach Brito workshops and advice 

“Brito taught me everything I needed to know about getting a job. He and my classmates were my support system in the career hunt journey. A support system is essential when going through the process of job hunting.”     

Shortly after the program ended he landed a job as an Associate Designer for a Miami Startup 8base. After 3 months he got promoted to Product Designer where he built out the company’s design team and led the team for over 2 years.  Currently, he is working as Senior Product Designer for Apollo GraphQL, an industry-standard GraphQL implementation, providing the data graph layer that connects modern apps to the cloud. 

Looking back on his journey Carlos would tell others with similar background:

“Ironhack was a catalyst towards my career but the end result was because I didn’t give up.  I may not be an architect right now but I am a designer, and a pretty good one!  To me this is the real American Dream!”.  

Join us Wednesday, March 31st @ 6:00 PM EST where Ironhack’s General Manager Lisa Nuessle will be having a fire-side chat with Carlos Arevalo, Senior Product Designer at Apollo GraphQL to discuss “Journey of a Career DREAMer”

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If you are looking to learn a new digital skill, Ironhack has courses in Web Development and UX/UI Design that can support your transition into tech. Have questions? Schedule 15 minutes with our admissions manager Anna to see if Ironhack is the right fit for you! 

Inspired by Carlos’ story connect with Carlos Arevalo on LinkedIn and follow him on Dribble

Read more about his journey:

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