Currently finishing my fourth and final year at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford School of Interaction Design, I actually really enjoy working – I love my field, and I take a lot of pride in the things that I do.
However, when I'm not working, I'm either on the internet looking up new and exciting tech, getting hooked on a TV series (or watching Brooklyn 99 on repeat, if we're being honest), reading, or listening to The Howard Stern Show. I also enjoy photography and traveling.
My journey getting here has been anything but easy. Before deciding to go to university to become a UX designer and ultimately moving towards Service Design and UX Research, I tried a few different paths in life.
Throughout high school, I was obsessed with all of the real estate TV shows. Income Property, Flip This House, Million Dollar Listing – I couldn't get enough. So when the guidance counsellors would ask me what I'd want to do in life, I'd say Real Estate Investor.
Unfortunately, there were no university degrees in Real Estate Investing at the time, and a four year degree plus a few years of work was too long for me to wait to start investing.
I found out I could do an 11 month course in carpentry and get a starting pay of $21/hour, quickly moving up to over $35/hour. At 17 years old, this was perfect. Not only would I start making enough money to start saving and invest in my first property, but I'd learn the skills necessary to renovate my properties as well. Win-win!
I started my first job one week after finishing my course. I would go on to work mainly in commercial construction, but I also got the chance to work on a water-front house in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, QC.
Even though I was making good money and on my way to my goal, I was miserable. I hated working outside in -20°C weather, and I would spend a lot of time at work looking at ways to speed up certain tasks and make our work more efficient. This was not the role of carpenters – we were expected to do more doing and I was spending too much time ideating ways to make the job easier and faster.
To add to the problem, temporary lay-offs were frequent in the industry. Not only was I out of work every 6-8 weeks, but I was miserable with my job.
I was close. I was studying Real Estate Investing on the side and just needed more money to buy my first property.
However, 2013 was not a good year for construction in the area, and I was getting laid off more frequently. Employment insurance began running out, and I'd have to start digging into my savings.
I needed a job that would pay well and that I wouldn’t hate doing – and I needed it quick.
Struggling to find my next move, I was desperate. I called my parents, who work together as truck drivers, and asked if their company would hire me if I got my license.
Not thinking anything of it, my parents actually called their company, and the company said "absolutely!" Somehow, six weeks later and at 19 years old, I got my commercial drivers license and started truck driving.
I spent just under two years driving all over Canada and the U.S., saving up every penny I could to begin my real estate investing career.
Finally, the day came when I had enough money to buy my first property. But for some reason, I wasn’t excited. Something was missing. I lost the ambition I once had for real estate.
Researching different potential jobs, I discovered the field of User Experience design. I was hooked.
My whole life I had looked at how people interact with products and would think of ways to improve the experience. I also loved working in teams (especially after playing hockey my entire childhood), and finding innovative ways to solve problems.
This job was perfect for me, and I didn't even know it existed.
I decided to take the money I had saved up to buy my first property and invest it in my education instead. I dropped everything I had in Quebec, sold off most of my belongings, and moved in with family in Kingston while I figured out where I'd go to school.
Researching schools at the time (January 2016), very few programs offered courses in UX design. However, one did, and it got my attention: Global Business & Digital Arts (GBDA) at the University of Waterloo.
Since I went to high school in Quebec, I graduated in grade 11 (there's no grade 12 with Quebec's school system, there's CEGEP instead, which I didn't attend). However, to get into GBDA, I needed six grade 12 course credits.
I was dedicated to getting into GBDA that fall semester of 2016. I had six months to finish six grade 12 classes online. It wasn't easy, but I finished all six courses on time (with a 95% average!), and I got into GBDA for fall of 2016. I made it!
Having just finished my first internship as a Service Designer, I realized how much I like the Service Design process and the idea of tackling problems from the core, looking at all of the stakeholders involved and the entire customer journey.
Once I finish my GBDA degree in April, I’m hoping to land a role as either a Service Designer or a Product Designer (or a role that would combine the best of both?) and establish myself in the industry, while I continue growing as a person and exploring new areas of interest on the side.