went through at least 6 different courses of study in university. At 18, I thought I was going to be a star on Broadway and was auditioning for musical theater programs all over the US (I'm sure if you've googled my name, you'd seen a few youtube videos of my youth performances). After not making it into any of the big schools, I threw away my musical theater dreams and over the next two years, pursued a wide variety of majors, including Mandarin (turns out my school wanted all Mandarin majors to go into the CIA...), Psychology, Teaching (turns out I don't have the patience for kids), Political Science, and Global Studies. But still, none of them really could keep my interest. I didn't realize it at the time, but none of these paths could keep me interested because I wasn't creating anything.
One summer in between university semesters, I was fed up and quit my student job as a maid for a bespoke inn. While searching for new jobs online, I came across a video series about how easy it is to create a monthly income by creating a website. The series explained that if you chose a niche topic, created some content, and got regular visitors to your site, you could easily utilize google ads or affiliate marketing to make a nice monthly income for yourself. I was motivated and convinced that I could achieve this too.
As you can probably assume, I did NOT get rich quick. I never even made one penny from the website I made. But what I did find was that I loved putting the site together, learning the skills to do so, and that it was something I didn't get bored doing. That was the first time I really thought that something could hold my interest for a career path, and that day, I changed my course of study to my 6th and final major, Graphic Infomation Technology (which focused on web design, graphic design, photography, and some animation).
Through an exchange program at Arizona State University, I got the opportunity to study Interactive and Visual Design at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. I'm not going to lie, when I went to the study abroad office and I found out that there was only one school in the world that I could go to to continue my course of study, and it was in AUSTRALIA of all places, I was super disappointed. Actually, I was so disappointed that I cried- because when I pictured myself moving countries to study, I definitely pictured somewhere more glamorous than Australia.
But I'm so happy I did. Because moving to Australia was the best possible career move I could make and has gotten me the network and connections I needed to get me where I am today. As soon as I arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, I started begging all the software and design companies in the area to take me as an intern. I told them I was more than happy to work for free and just wanted the experience. After two weeks of searching, a software company called Vision6 got back to me, and after a two month internship, I became their (paid) web and graphic designer for the next year and a half. While doing this, I pursued any and all opportunities to freelance (for super cheap, I might say) for small businesses around Queensland, and when I wasn't studying, I was working morning, nights, and weekends to gain experience and build my skillset.
After my year in Australia, I needed to come back to the US to finish my final semester at Arizona State University- and I was ready to think ahead for where I would go next. I started applying to internships and graduate programs for all the big companies- Uber, Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and as I'm sure you can imagine, I had literally zero success. I reached out to a colleague from Vision6 who had previously left the company to make the move to Amsterdam to work at Booking.com. When I asked him how he enjoyed the company and living in Amsterdam, he responded enthusiastically and told me that Booking actually also offered a graduate program, and he'd be happy to connect me with a recruiter if I was interested. Within a month and a half, I had gone through three rounds of interviews, flew out to Amsterdam for the final round, and got the job.
I spent a year in the graduate program at Booking before getting promoted this past June to an official "core" UX designer- but let me assure you, I had the same expectations to live up to, if not more, during my time as a graduate. Booking has been an incredible learning experience both design-wise and career-wise, and I've gotten to work on some really cool projects, including an internal tool to build chatbot flows, a portal for vendors to sell products to hotels, and now, my latest challenge, tackling the Indonesian market. Career-wise, coming from the US, its been incredible to work in such a large, multi-cultural organization, and grow from the challenges that come with that.