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Believe in yourself—you are better than you think you are. Embrace criticism and don’t take it personally. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

UX Designer, Manning Labs

Irina Manning

What were you up to before Shillington and why did you decide to study design?

I studied foreign languages at a university and have a degree in linguistics and literature. I have always enjoyed languages. I speak English, Russian, French, German, Spanish and Italian. But I also have always found myself doing something creative as a hobby: photography, drawing, painting, creative writing, calligraphy—you name it. So, when I moved to New York City—with all the inspiration and opportunities it has to offer—I decided to try myself in the creative world. I wanted to follow my dream but I also wanted to be practical. In other words, I wanted my new dream profession to be fun for me but also in demand and well-paid. After a lot of research, I made a decision to become a UX designer. That’s how I ended up at Shillington. The Shillington graphic design course gave me everything I needed to start my creative journey.

You studied in the full-time course in New York. Can you tell us about your experience?

It was absolutely fantastic. First of all, I loved the way the course is structured. I was completely new to design and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I shouldn’t have worried. The course assumes that everyone is a beginner. It starts with the very basics and gradually progresses to more and more advanced topics. Second, the course is mainly focused on practical tasks and gives very little (but just enough) theory. The learning process basically emulates the working atmosphere of professional designers—with all the challenges, pressure, deadlines, design critiques and team-work. It was so inspiring. Third, the teachers are awesome. Dedicated, talented, knowledgeable. They encouraged us, helped us, supported us every step of the way. I wouldn’t have done it without Peter and Cindy. Last but not least, the location. I was a design student in New. York. City. Need I say more?

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about studying at Shillington?

I couldn’t recommend Shillington more highly to anyone thinking of changing careers. The course is a great alternative to a college education. It is not too long, affordable, and of great quality. However, make no mistake—it is indeed an intensive course. Be ready to work very hard, to challenge yourself in every way, to live and breathe graphic design for the duration of the course.

What do you love about being a UX designer? What was it like launching your own company, Manning Labs?

I love UX design because it is both creative and technical. I get to be a part of both the creative and the development processes. There is so much to UX design. It’s challenging and versatile. A good UX designer needs to be able to wear a lot of hats. Design, programming, psychology, marketing, copywriting, information architecture, content strategy, user research—we need to know it all. It never gets boring! Second, I love the flexibility of my job. I get to choose my own clients and projects to work on. I craft my own schedule. I can work from home or from anywhere in the world for that matter! Last year I spent three months traveling around Europe while at the same time working successfully on a very important project for a Fortune 500 company. Now, I am a new mom and I get to be home with my baby and work remotely. It’s great! And finally, UX design is in high demand. Finding an exciting job has never been a problem. And it pays very well.

Starting Manning Labs felt very natural. My husband is a talented mobile developer. We have been working on numerous creative projects together for a while—several of which are profitable mobile applications. Together we make a perfect team—quality design and great code. Occasionally, when there is too much work, we hire help. When the products we launched got publicity, it just made sense to make it official and put a brand on the services we offer as a team.

Read Irina’s guest post on the Shillington Blog on how she became a UX designer in less than a year. 

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