My UX Design Journey

The roadblocks, detours, and destination.
Chickee Fuerman, a UX Designer based in Seattle (USA) who was born and raised in the Philippines.

Late 80's

I was born and raised in a family of engineers and healthcare professionals. The year I was born, my country was just rising up from 14 years of martial law. So my younger years was surrounded by poverty, yet guided by happy, resourceful, and hardworking people.

UX Skills acquired:
Optimism, ingenuity, tech-savviness

Photo of a jeepney taken in front of the Rizal monument in Luneta park during a sunny day, with poles of Philippine flags waving on the right hand side.
Jeepney (a local mode of transport) in front of the Rizal Monument in Manila, Philippines.
Photo of Chickee Fuerman 4th year highschool class in St. Jerome Emiliani Institute with their class advisor doing a wacky pose.
Prior to 2011, Philippines was 1 of the remaining 3 countries worldwide that still has a 10-year pre-university cycle.

1990s - early 2000’s

Excelled in arts and science as a kid all the way through high school. I was constantly designing, creating, and experimenting even as a hobby. I also discovered my obsession with cleaning and organizing as early as 2nd grade.

I would graciously fold my entire family's laundry, and group them by purpose, size, and colors. Once a week in high school, I would volunteer to clean and organize our classroom on my own. I could very well be Marie Kondo.

UX Skills acquired:
Organization, color coordination, information architecture

2004 - 2007

Mostly due to social & family pressure, I took a Bachelor's degree in Nursing. Despite not being my first choice, it taught me a big deal about psychology, empathy, and customer service. I eventually passed both the Philippine and California licensure exams.

This period coincided with the rise of digital cameras. I fell in love with photography which led me to learn Adobe Photoshop and other related softwares.

UX Skills earned:
Empathy, psychology, digital arts

Photo of Chickee and her college friends wearing their nurse gala dresses and hats at the 2007 Philippine Nurses oath-taking ceremony at Aranate Coliseum.
The Philippines is the largest exporter of nurses in the world supplying 25% of all overseas nurses.
Photo of call center agent with her teammates while talking on a headset.
Due to lack of other opportunities and the rising reputation of the Philippines as the BPO capital of the world (Business Process Outsourcing), a lot of well-educated people went to work for call centers.

2007 - 2008

Global recession hit. The worldwide demand for nurses declined. I took a temporary job as an HP laptop tech support for American and Canadian customers. I enjoyed it. I also landed a job with a similar role in an Australian telco company later on.

UX Skills earned:
+ Remote communication skills with customers & team members
+ All-around laptop hardware & software knowledge
+ General smartphone hardware & software know-how

2009 - 2012

Went back to nursing. Worked in the Middle East. When I was there, my employer abused me. She also illegally held on to my passport so when a loved one died, I couldn’t come home. I fought for my rights and eventually went back to the Philippines to start anew. I decided that from then on, I’m going to follow where my heart leads me.

UX Skills acquired:
+ Humility
+ Courage to try something new
+ Designing something according to one's desires & needs

Photo of young woman who had just arrived in the airport.
Kafala system is an employment framework in the Gulf States that requires sponsorship from a national for migrant workers to be employed and reside in the country. This system has created systemic abuse as employers are able to exploit and abuse workers with little recourse, leading many to argue that the kafala system facilitates exploitative and slave labor.
Photo of a woman doing a business presentation in front of a crowd.
According to the World Bank’s 2013 Doing Business Survey, the Philippines ranks 138 of 185 economies with regards to the ease of doing business.

2012 - 2016

I got into entrepreneurship, & travel. Volunteered as a photographer/designer for various projects. Worked in the life and health insurance industry. I enjoyed the finance aspect of it.

Moved to Vietnam to be a marketing arm for a language school. The business didn't work out. Taught English to kids in person and coached adult test-takers online. Lived in Malaysia and Singapore.

UX Skills acquired:
+ Entrepreneurial mindset & skills
+ Professional networking
+ Respect & open-mindedness
to a diverse set of people, ideas, & cultures
+ Dealing with people from different age groups

2016

I applied for and was selected to represent my country at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit @ Standford University. Visa issues prevented me from attending in person so I attended the sessions remotely.

Biggest lesson I got from the summit: Digital technology is the future.

This propelled me to take a serious look at the tech industry.

UX Skills earned:
+ Effective idea presentation
+ Listening
to the needs of the people
+ Intro to coding

Photo of Barack Obama interviewing Mark Zuckerberg and 3 other entrepreneurs representing different countries at GES 2016.
Barack Obama interviewing Mark Zuckerberg and 3 other entrepreneurs representing different countries at GES 2016.
Photo of Chickee's team at the Design Swarm Seattle 2017 headed by Surya Vanka.
Design Swarm Seattle 2017. The design hackathon where I found out about the field of UX Design.

2016 - 2019

After 8 years of 4 visa restrictions, I was finally granted access to US. Lived in Seattle to explore my options in the tech industry. Attended and volunteered in meetups and hackathons. Stumbled upon UX Design. I eventually enrolled in Bloc’s Designer Program.

UX Skills earned:
+ User Research (personas, competitive analysis, Google Forms, SoGoSurvey)
+ Information Architecture (user stories, user flows, wireframes, prototype, OptimalSort, UsabilityHub)
+ Branding (story, logo, color, typography, Illustrator)
+ Visual Design (mockups, Sketch, Figma)
+ User Testing (Invision, Maze, Lookback, Zoom)
+ Front-End Development (HTML, CSS, Javascript, Atom)
+ Version Control (Github)
+ Behavioral Economics

Now

Despite all the roadblocks and detours I had to take, I’m really excited about finally arriving and going into a field that unites my strengths, experiences, and aspirations. The long and grueling journey had prepared me well for the work ahead.

Photo of Chickee walking towards the Yosemite Falls.
"Failure doesn't matter, nor does success. It's really the privilege to pursue your dreams that matters." - Sergey Brin

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