Build Real-World Experience with Springboard's Industry Design Project
In college, Dominic Sylvester studied graphic design, but when he graduated he felt unprepared to actually begin a design career.
"They taught me how to use the pen tool in Illustrator, they taught me how to use Photoshop brushes, but they never taught me how to apply my work into the career world," he said.
Springboard's Industry Design Project (IDP) bridges the gap between learning and working, Dom said. The project pairs students with companies in need of UX help.
"This project was, for me, the hybrid step into the real world," he said, "because when I went to college they taught me the structure and principles of graphic design, like how to use it and everything, but they never taught me how to apply it in the real world."
At Springboard, we want every UX Career Track graduate to have a portfolio that stands out, so in addition to several mini-projects and one larger capstone, you'll be matched with an outside company to complete a 40-hour project that will solve a real business problem.
We're calling this first-of-its-kind initiative the Industry Design Project.
- Gain real-world experience collaborating with a design team or working directly with a client for four weeks
- Dive deeper into an area of the UX design process they're interested in: competitive research, user research, usability testing, or redesign recommendations
- Distinguish themselves from other bootcamp graduates by building a personalized portfolio
The founding group of partner organizations includes AngelHack, Berkeley SkyDeck, Alchemist Accelerator, and M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures).
In Dom's case, he was matched with Headnote, a payment platform for lawyers. After working with the company to define a problem he could help solve, Dom began creating an online support center.
Headnote had two sources of support for current and prospective clients: a chatbot and a phone number. But after looking through the chat logs, Dom realized that the most common issues could be resolved if there were additional support materials on the website.
At the end of his four weeks on the job, Dom had completed most of the design work, but the project hadn't reached the testing or implementation stage. Recognizing an opportunity, he offered to take it the rest of the way home.
"I decided to shoot my shot," Dom said. "I'm like: [they] really liked my work, I know that they don't have any other designers at the moment… might as well try. What's the worst they can say? No?"
They didn't say no.
Dom continues to consult for Headnote and is applying what he learned both in college and at Springboard every day.
It's particularly exciting given that his career transition began less than a year ago.
Dom was working as a desktop technician at his college, Montclair State University, but wanted to launch a career in UX design to make a bigger impact on people's lives. "Being able to solve problems for other people and making their lives easier is something that brings me joy," he said.
Attracted by Springboard's emphasis on community, Dom enrolled in the UX Design Course (before the UX Career Track was launched).
The experience was "fulfilling," he said. Dom particularly enjoyed working with his "fantastic" mentors.
"Ciarda and Andre were always there for me and gave me guidance throughout the whole program," he said. "They taught me how to break boundaries and challenge my creative process to better it."
(Find out more about Ciarda Henderson, Andre Martins, and other UX mentors here.)
From the capstone project to the IDP, hands-on learning is the foundation of Springboard's UX design courses. And Dom said that practical experience helped him immensely.
"I was able to make mistakes, I was able to get messy, and then pinpoint what I learned out of it," he said. "Now that I've finished the course, I'm way more confident."
If you're looking for a flexible, mentor-guided UX design bootcamp that emphasizes hands-on learning, consider the UX Career Track. Through the Industry Design Project and other practical work, you'll graduate with a personalized portfolio that will set you up for success.