How This Musician Found a Future in UX/UI Design

For nearly thirteen years, Vinney Dawson thrived as a freelance musician. However, when the pandemic put a pause on live shows, Vinney found himself left with a lot of free time.

“It’s like the Wild West in the music industry now,” he explained. “After COVID-19 struck, my music career felt significantly less stable. So, I decided to look for other opportunities that would provide more stability while allowing me to still enjoy my passions.”

Even while exploring new professional avenues, Vinney wanted to remain in the creative realm. While growing his portfolio as a musician, he’d taken on several web design projects, and had even dabbled in photography and videography for private events. He enjoyed creating positive, memorable experiences for people, whether that was through a trumpet or a camera — and he wondered if there was a field that would align with his interests. 

A new world to explore 

After doing some research, Vinney discovered UX/UI design. He became fascinated with its human-centric approach, and felt compelled to learn more about the field. With curiosity and excitement, he decided to enroll in The UX/UI Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education as a part-time student. 

Outside of class time, Vinney dedicated most of his schedule to internalizing the curriculum and completing assignments. From mornings until early evenings, he learned about the different programs and concepts that helped him build meaningful, user-focused designs. 

He particularly enjoyed adapting a design thinking model to his work, as it offered a new approach to problem solving. “Design thinking can be used for multiple scenarios, which is its main benefit,” he said. “Following this process allows you to see the real ‘why’ behind a problem, then efficiently develop solutions.” 

Although the boot camp had its challenges, Vinney found a supportive community in his instructors, TAs, and peers. With UX/UI backgrounds of their own, his instructors provided a real glimpse into the life of a designer, and made sure to equip Vinney with the tools he needed to succeed. Their ongoing support and guidance helped students persevere through the challenging curriculum — at the end of the boot camp, Vinney emerged with greater understanding, knowledge, and confidence. 

The importance of hands-on experience 

Out of his many assignments, Vinney found one of his projects to be the most memorable and rewarding. He and his team were responsible for redesigning a food pantry website, where users could easily search for local food banks and subsidized groceries. 

“I learned that focusing on the smaller pain points of a website allowed me to identify solutions for its entire design,” he said. “We realized that these small, seemingly insignificant elements actually had a great impact on user experience, so we worked on tackling each of them.” 

Vinney’s group prioritized reducing mid-search bounce rates and improving overall visibility. They also conducted an intensive competitive analysis in order to identify what other sites were doing right, and how they could incorporate effective strategies into their main solution. They iterated their design until they developed an easier search function and provided more call-to-action opportunities. 

Each step of the project allowed Vinney to familiarize himself with the intricacies of a design cycle. While reading his assigned material and listening to instructors were certainly helpful ways to learn about UX/UI design, engaging with clients and participating in hands-on projects prepared him for his future career on a whole new level. 

The start of an exciting career 

After graduation, Vinney leaned heavily on his program’s Career Services team. He connected with his Career Coach on a weekly basis, where he would talk about his career endeavors and polish his portfolio for potential employers. 

Instead of mass applying to hundreds of listings, Vinney took a more strategic approach. He filtered for locations that he could easily commute to, and made it his priority to work for a company that would also fit his interests. He eventually heard back from a skincare company and participated in a thorough interview process. Within a week, he received a full-time offer as a UX/UI designer.

It was finally the start of his new and exciting career. 

Vinney continues to work as a UX/UI designer for his company’s e-commerce team, where he focuses on crafting a better user journey for customers. He credits a majority of his successes to his time in the boot camp, where every aspect of the program, from his instructors to his group projects, equipped him with the skills he needed to thrive. With gratitude for his community, he also works as a teaching assistant and supports others who are embarking on similar life-changing journeys.

From performing as a full-time musician before the pandemic to becoming a seasoned UX/UI designer, Vinney has made a significant shift in his career. With his boot camp experience, the transition has been nothing short of an adventure — and it’s only the beginning. He advises, “Never stop learning. Allowing the culmination of our past experiences to coexist will spur innovation.”

Ready to make your own job transition? Explore UC Irvine Boot Camps and learn how you can get started on a new career path today. 

Vinney Dawson is currently a full stack UX/UI designer with a rich background in music performance and production, and was featured as a solo trumpeter for the Broadway-caliber, theatrical production of Mickey and the Magical Map at Fantasyland Theatre. 

In addition to performing at Disneyland, Vinney recorded in various studio environments such as Capitol Records, FOX Studios, Warner Bros., and CBS. His live television appearances include The Late Late Show with James Corden, Conan, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! He has also performed live on stages such as the Microsoft Theater, Walt Disney Concert Hall, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Coachella, Lollapalooza and more. Vinney has also had the pleasure of working with Artists such as Gloria Estefan, Emily Estefan, Jose Feliciano, Patti LaBelle, Cyndi Lauper, Dariush, Kamran & Hooman, Saint Motel, and half•alive. He regularly records remotely from his professional home studio for various projects and commercial work.

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