Black people are always disproportionately represented at companies so again, know your stuff and put your best foot forward at all times.
Who is Ashley Janelle?
I’m Ashley Janelle, UX/UI Designer, UX Coach and blogger from Chicago. I’m also a friend, sister, daughter and active Beyoncé fan.
BA in Interactive Arts and Media from Columbia College Chicago, UX Bootcamp
How did you choose to pursue this field?
After taking a web design and Photoshop class in high school I knew a career in design was what I wanted to do. This was back in 2008, so I was watching the trend of how popular the internet was becoming and how people were really starting to value good design. I knew there was a space for me. I was even more drawn to it when I realized how much freelance opportunity there was, and how I could have a career working from anywhere. Yes, I was thinking about my work/life balance back in high school. So that’s my day job, however, outside of that, I’m a UX career coach and blogger. My 1:1 coaching program aims to help aspiring UX designers who have taken a UX course, boot camp, have a degree, etc. and helps them get on the path to landing a UX role. My clients have been very successful in completing projects, writing case studies, preparing for interviews and so much more!
Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?
Hmmm, I’m not sure I had one. I honestly was drawn to what I loved to do and what I would be able to create.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?
Absolutely. I can’t really remember wanting to do anything else. I did want to be a doctor at one point, but I don’t like blood, so that was not an option.
What do you love most about your job?
At my core, I’m a designer. I love to create things so that keeps me going.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
After learning more about Caterpillar role from the hiring manager, I was actually more intrigued than I thought I would be. They wanted someone to come in and help shape their UX department. They didn’t really have a process that they were following and wanting to start doing things the right way. This turned out to be one of the best opportunities because I had just come out of my Bootcamp program and knew I could bring all of those teachings into the role.
What things would you change about your job?
Working remotely 100%! This really has to be a must for companies moving forward. The quality of life goes up when you don’t have to commute to and from work every day. Especially when you have long commutes…
What has been the most difficult or disappointing aspect of your job?
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a UX Designer is convince a former employer why they should invest in our UX department. Oftentimes companies still don’t understand the value of UX and why it’s as important as it is. This, unfortunately, can fall on the employees to have to document the wins their team has and where the company could have (or actually did) lost a lot of money by not going through the proper UX process.
How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?
I honestly don’t think about that, but not in an “I don’t see color” kind of way. I just go to work every day and put my best foot forward. I am very aware that my work has to be twice as good, as well as what the stigmas are, but I don’t let the stigmas weigh me down. It is my hope that through the work that I do and how I conduct myself, that my company will want to hire another me, and that’s what I focus on.
What tips would you offer for anyone thinking about entering into your profession?
For UX/UI Designers specifically, one thing I see a lot of from coaching is that many people say that want to be UX Designers but don’t want to learn how to design UI’s. If that’s not what you’re passionate about that’s fine, but you do have to learn to some degree. I tell my clients the best UX Designers can move about the entire UX process from user research to high fidelity mock ups and are not afraid to do so. You also don’t want to have to turn a job down or not able to succeed on the job because you can’t do something. Get your feet wet in all of it so that you’re not afraid of it and it’s not foreign to you.
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?
Again, I’d just say make sure your work is superior, you ask questions, and don’t be silent. Speak up, let people know you’re in the room and have things to contribute to the conversation. This is especially important when you’re new to a company. You want to let your employer know that made the right decision by hiring you. Find what it is you excel at, the thing about you that’s done better than anyone else and own it.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?
Know your stuff. Careers in tech are super competitive and will only continue to be that way. Black people are always disproportionately represented at companies so again, know your stuff and put your best foot forward at all times.
What is your favorite Quote? How do you apply this to your life?
If you wanna go fast, go alone. If you wanna go far go together. I have to think about this often in my personal endeavors when I need to figure out who to bring on to my team. I cannot do everything well, and I’m not supposed to. Letting go has been a big thing for me.
What are your future goals related to your career?
I’d like to eventually work full-time for my businesses. I already know what the next phase of my coaching business is going to be so I’m very excited about that. I’d also like to get into speaking more. I’ve spoken on several panels regarding UX, however, I’d really like to do more with that.
How has your family influenced your journey and provide support?
My parents were always really supportive of my career goals. They always told me to find something I liked and the money would come. I had a pretty good idea of what web designers made at the time which was a decent salary. I also knew that I’d always take on other work and create my own opportunity, so that was a plus.
How do you juggle motherhood and your career?
Although I’m not currently a mom, I think a lot about what kind of life I want to have when it’s that time. All of my personal business decisions I’m making now are helping to lay the proper foundation for that time in my life. I’d like more passive income and more remote work. Although you can never fully prepare, I do think working 100% for myself will be a huge bonus.
What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?
I have a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do I earned when I was in the fifth grade, so I think that’s pretty cool.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for any further questions:
My 1:1 coaching program can be found here: https://www.ashleyjanelle.com/ux-coaching.
If you’re finally ready to have that career you jump out of bed for this is for you! If you’re interested you can book a call here: https://calendly.com/ashleyjanelle.
We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.