Bloc Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Slayton

Jenn Slayton

When Jenn first enrolled in our UX/UI Design Course, she had no prior design experience. With a degree in Elementary Education and experience as a teacher, Jenn knew she’d have to drastically change her skill set if she wanted to find her *dream* job. Since graduating from Bloc and joining the growing Bloc alumni community, Jenn has been crushing it in her new position at ACTIVE Network. We sat down with Jenn and asked her a few questions about how taking Bloc and transitioning careers has transformed her life.

What are you up to now, post-Bloc?

For the last 18 months I’ve been doing freelance for local businesses and an agency up in Michigan, but have recently accepted a contractor position as a UX/UI Designer with Active Network.

Why did you enroll in Bloc to begin with?
Well, you can say it runs in our family! I was encouraged by my brother to take the UX/UI Design Course. He was very sure that it could be something that I would love…and he was right! I was also looking for a career change. I wanted to do something that mattered and would possibly allow some flexibility in raising my family. What I am doing now allows me to do just that.

What were you doing before you enrolled in Bloc?
I was a teacher before starting my family. I thought I would always go back to teaching after raising my kiddos to school age, but the time had arrived and I had lost my desire to teach in a classroom. I needed a change, something fresh. Then enters Bloc!

Tell me more about your job! Where do you work and what’s your role?
Well, it’s pretty exciting! I accepted a contractor position just a few months ago as a UX/UI Designer with Active Network. I am doing both UX/UI design for mobile apps, web and marketing materials. I get to work from my home office making cool stuff with my hair in a messy bun just about every day!

Are you excited for this opportunity?
Yes! I did mention doing UX and UI while wearing my messy bun, right? Yea, best of both worlds!

How was the job-hunt process?
It was long, brutal and interesting. I was connected with a small agency for some freelance work about 6 weeks after completing Bloc. And I love working with them and continue to do so. However, I was also looking for something more full-time, and was very specific when it came to culture and type of work. I want to work alongside a team that is passionate about their job, growing in their craft and striving to encourage others to pursue excellence. Many applications went out. Some interviews were made. 2 job offers were made.

What are your next steps?
I’m planning to soak up everything from this particular opportunity. I am learning from my design director and my coworkers constantly with new techniques, new resources and perspectives. As a former educator, learning is something that is still important to me. I believe we should continue to seek learning opportunities. I have some plans to venture into some other avenues of this technology world. I can’t stop learning. I believe that’s when my craft will become static and boring.

What’s something you know now that you wish you would’ve known when you started Bloc?
I wish I would’ve known to take advantage of the wonderful community of Bloc. I believe the people of Bloc, staff, mentors and fellow students, are the greatest resources to get you through the course. There are Facebook and Slack groups where community has been built. Many people get opinions, questions answered, job leads, etc. through these wonderful groups. I had conjured up the belief that I was “too beginner” and my questions would have sounded lame, which then caused me to miss out. I wish I had known (believed) everyone was a beginner, that’s why they were enrolled to learn something new.

What was the hardest part of your learning journey?
My mentor was an integral part of my journey! Though it was difficult at times to hear his critique, he helped me grow tough skin. It was a hard process for me to learn not to be “married” to my work, that design is not always complete and people have very harsh opinions. It has been the most important part of my journey in preparing me for a career in this field, though. My current employer was very impressed when he heard about the relationship I had with my mentor and made mention it was a reason for hiring me. He needed designers who were able to take critique and realize it’s not personal, but part of the business.

What advice would you give to other Bloc students?
Stick with it. It will be tough because you are learning something new, but that doesn’t mean you are incapable.

Ask questions. Your mentor is your greatest resource in the course. He or she can answer your questions and give you advice & critique that can literally catapult you to a great career. Take advantage of the Bloc community. Connect with other Bloc students. Don’t be timid in asking questions & for their opinions. We are all trying to become better at this new craft, whether it be developing or designing.

A lot of students, while they go through Bloc, often feel defeated when they’re at the toughest part of the learning curve. If you could give any words of encouragement, what would it be? This is probably where my teacher comes out in me, but stick with it. Anything new is going to be tough. If we already knew it, we wouldn’t be enrolled, right? Take advantage of your mentor. My mentor was great at reminding me that I was a beginner, not an expert yet. And though he helped me to grow tough skin, he was also very encouraging that I was heading in the right direction of becoming a great designer.

Bloc: Where do you see yourself in one year?
In one year, I see myself working from my home office continuing to design some cool, useful apps and websites. I love what I do and I love the flexibility.

At Bloc, we’re driven to help individuals change their lives by transitioning into careers they’re passionate about. We offer mentor-led online programs comparable to in-person bootcamps. To check out the programs we offer, go here. #hacktheplanet

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