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Climb Credit Student Success Story: General Assembly Grad Jack Henson

Jack was able to make the leap from software sales to UX design through General Assembly’s UX Design Immersive Program. Check out Jack’s story below and learn more about how he became a product designer at Mavrck, an influencer marketing SaaS company in Downtown Boston!

Jack started out as a different kind of designer — a lighting designer.

After graduating from Northeastern University, Jack spent a year working on his own as a lighting designer and artist. He rented out a 350-square-foot shop space a few towns over from his and his girlfriend’s apartment and filled it with all the tools he needed. His work focused on centerpiece lighting and home decor made from cast resin. He enjoyed the creative freedom but, he “couldn’t help but feel lonely doing that type of work.”

Jack decided to jump back into the Boston tech space by getting a sales role at a software startup. However, a few months in, he found himself more interested in the work that the Product, Engineering and Design Teams were doing “over on the other side of the office.” He says he “quickly realized that sales wasn’t [his] future.” So after chatting with a few product mentors, he decided on a game plan. He would build on his creative background and become a UX designer — ultimately using design as a bridge between his sales experience and his goal of a product management position.

Once he found his passion for product management, the search for training programs began.

After some online searching, Jack came across GA’s UX design program. It looked good online, but he took the extra step to make sure he was making the right choice. After calling several GA alumni, he found that “they all had super awesome things to say about the program, so that made [him] feel much more confident about it.” So with his decision to attend GA made, there was one last question to answer.

How was he going to pay for it? According to Jack, he was “on the later side of the application process,” and he needed to find financing fast. That’s where Climb came in — for him, “the deferred payment and the ease of application” were the two big reasons he went with a Climb application. And once the application was submitted, “painless” would be the word he’d use to describe the rest of the process. “After the initial application process, it kind of just faded to the background,” he said, “and enabled me to focus fully on learning the new skills in the course … Not having to deal with finances while trying to stuff a bunch of stuff into my brain was pretty great.”

Next steps? UX design at General Assembly — and another career shift.

Once he was in his GA program, he found himself falling in love with design. Now, he says he’ll probably stay in design instead of using it as a bridge to product management, though he hasn’t totally abandoned the idea — “I’m not completely ruling product management out, but for now design is what feels right.”

What brought about this change? According to Jack: “I think I had conflated the work that designers and product managers do, and the work I had assumed product managers do — the attractive part of what I thought they do — was more so done by the designers. But once I learned more about it, I realized that design is probably the side I want to stick to.”

Along the way, he picked up many skills to help him out in his future career. Perhaps most importantly, it taught him a new way “to view and understand the world around [him].”

A part of the course he particularly enjoyed was giving a 30-minute presentation on Clean Meat, ultimately tying the topic back to learnings from the course. “It was awesome being able to go back and forth with classmates on the UX challenges that lay ahead when it comes to shifting consumers’ mental models around what meat really is.”

And for Jack, “it’s obvious, but one of the most important lessons I took out of the course was simply the importance of UX,” he said. “Knowing how much of an impact designers can have on business gives me the courage to go out of my way in the product development process, to have the hard conversations internally that I know will result in the higher quality user experience for customers.”

With his program completed and his goal of being a UX designer realized, it was time for a (short) job hunt.

Jack completed his course in the middle of February, but he didn’t jump right into his job search after the program. Rather, he “took two weeks after the program ended to kind of just chill, relax, and unwind.” Then, through a fellow GA alum he had met during a portfolio review session while in the program, he started his first job in the beginning of April: a temp-to-perm role at a Higher-ed fundraising startup.

Later on, he was given the opportunity to stay on full time, but he made the “obviously tough decision” to move on to his current role at Mavrck — a job he also found through his network, this time through a former coworker from his time working in retail marketing SaaS. Now, he’s thriving in his role as a product designer at Mavrck.

Looking back, there is some advice he'd give his past self — though he wouldn't change the path he took.

If Jack could go back and give himself any advice, it would simply be, “buckle up.”

“I think I really underestimated how much effort it was going to take to go from zero to 100 in my design learning,” he said. “So I think I would have prepared my former self a bit better.”

Even still, Jack says things are working out for the best.

“When my girlfriend and I were living and working outside of the city, we felt far from our friends — which made us feel isolated. We knew we wanted to move back into the city, but we felt financially constrained. Getting a role in design gave us the stability we needed to move back into the city and reclaim what we were missing … I don’t want to say it was all a result of the course, but the course definitely played a huge role in it. Things are going really really well, so naturally it’s an experience that I’m super grateful for.”

Want to create your own Student Success Story?

Jack is a client of Climb’s. However, he was not paid or otherwise compensated for this testimonial. This testimonial reflects the real-life experiences and opinions of Jack; however, it should not be assumed that all users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

The quoted statements appear verbatim as given by the user, except for the correction of grammar and typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened or rearranged for the sake of clarity.

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