Today’s spotlight is on Kassandra Ueling. Prior to enrolling in Ironhack, she was struggling with many life challenges and was in search of a stable life. Kassandra did some research on new career paths and she discovered the field of UX/UI design and realized that getting the right skills to start a career in tech could help her improve her difficult situation. After completing Ironhack’s UX/UI Design Bootcamp at Ironhack Miami, she changed her life and now has a career of which she is proud . Check out her story here.
Hey Kassandra! Tell us about yourself and what life was like before enrolling in Ironhack.
My name is Kass. I lived in Southeast Iowa for the first 29 years of my life. Right before my 30th birthday, I took a massive leap of faith and moved to South Florida to change my life. I have struggled with addiction and mental illness since I was 14 years old.
Learning used to be my world. I had the intention of going to school to be a doctor or a lawyer. I was in accelerated classes and gifted programs since 4th grade, but my world turned upside down after I started using substances and developed the mental illnesses that still challenge me today. I was enrolled in high school until 11th grade, but pretty much stopped going to class after my freshman year. I officially dropped out when I was 17. Shortly thereafter, I earned my GED.
After dropping out of school, all of my dreams of having a fulfilling career fell to the wayside. I worked random minimum wage jobs for several years and my addiction and mental illnesses worsened by the day. I eventually landed a job in disability services and worked in that field for 7 years. There are too many details to go into for the sake of this interview. But my world fell apart more and more over time and I lived in a state of absolute hopelessness, thinking I would never have a happy life. In March of 2021, I left my career in disability services behind and moved to Florida for a fresh start.
With nothing more than a 9th grade education and a GED, I saw no real hope for having another career that meant anything to me and lived in fear of forever living paycheck to paycheck. But then something beautiful happened.
Through a series of events that I can't really explain, Ironhack and UX design fell into my lap. After I did some research and saw the wage that even a junior UX designer made, I thought it had to be a scam. But I kept researching and the massive amount of evidence that I found corroborating my initial research dispelled my fears of it being a scam and I enrolled in Ironhack.
The Ironhack Experience
What made you choose Ironhack to start your career in UI/UX Design?
After doing a search online for tech bootcamps, I quickly came across Ironhack. There were many search results for other tech schools too, but Ironhack laid out the details of their bootcamps in such a clear and inviting way. I loved the idea of passing or failing instead of focusing on a grade. Pass or fail meant that my success was in my hands and not contingent upon comparisons to the work of other students. It allowed my focus to be on absorbing as much information as possible without the stress of trying to get a high grade. When my focus is on a grade, I begin to pander to the party in charge of deciding those grades. When my focus is on sink or swim, I swim like hell to the finish line.
What was your biggest take away from completing the UI/UX Bootcamp?
My biggest take away from my experience at Ironhack is that we can all truly do whatever we want in life. I had everything working against me when I was in the UX bootcamp. I was fighting to stay sober every day (I was 4 months clean the first day of classes) and I felt like I didn't fit in at first because of my past. I was living in a sober house with 15 other women, sleeping in a twin bed in a tiny room, sometimes with multiple roommates. I was struggling with some very serious and wildly undertreated mental illnesses. My personal life created perceived barriers in my mind pretty much every day.
But Ironhack offered me an opportunity for a career that brings me joy and pays more than I ever thought possible with my educational background, or lack thereof. I felt like I would always be financially stuck in a job I didn't like. Today, the absolute opposite is my truth.
What is life like after graduating from Ironhack?
Working as a UX designer at a design agency is so rewarding. I get to challenge myself every day and I get to work from home, which is massive for my mental health. I get to help design things that are geared towards improving the life of the users I am designing for. I have the financial capabilities to be able to buy a house one day and I can pay all of my bills without stress. I have even been able to pay off debts and even raise my credit score.
To the prospective future student reading this: join Ironhack if you are ready for a positive change. Join if you are ready to love your career. If you are someone who loves to see the fruits of your labor and feel a sense of accomplishment in your professional life, then I recommend you take action. Ironhack is an investment that will be paid back tenfold.
A big thanks to Kass for sharing her thoughts about Ironhack’s UX/UI Design bootcamp!
We’re so proud of how far she has come and we’re so happy that she’s loving her career as a UX/UI Designer.
If you’d like to change your life with a career in tech and be part of Ironhack’s supportive community like Kass, we encourage you to check out our UX/UI Design Bootcamp in addition to our Web Development and Data Analytics Bootcamps.
We look forward to seeing you in class!