Andrea McKinley - From K-12 Education to Product Design in 3 months


UX Cabin Team Member Spotlight with Andrea McKinley

In this blog, we will focus on some of the highlights from this podcast episode, focusing on the internship opportunity!

🧬 How Andrea's interest in UX led her to the bold career pivot from teacher to UX Designer. Her teaching background gave her many more transferable skills than you may initially think!

👏 Andrea's experience during the UX Cabin internship opportunity helped mold her decision to become a UX Designer that does research instead of focusing entirely on UX Research.

📢 After being hired full-time at UX Cabin, Andrea has brought all of the experience from her teaching career and her internship knowledge to support the entire team. She will even be organizing our next UX Cabin internship opportunity!

From K-12 Education to Product Design in 3 months

In episode 8, Andrea McKinley chats with Seth Coelen about the bold career pivot from teaching k-12 to becoming a UX designer. Andrea joined UX Cabin full-time, following her participation in our first internship program earlier this year.


A strange correlation between UX and teaching.

Near the end of 2020, Andrea began reading more about UX and felt that her teaching experience had already given her a lot of the skills and knowledge she needed to make a successful career change into UX design. The more she looked into it, the more correlation she saw between the two fields.

At one point, she even googled "Teaching is UX" and found an article called "Why Every Effective Teacher is also a UX Designer," which confirmed everything she had been feeling during her initial research.

She decided to dig in and figure out the steps needed to make this career change a reality. After settling on a design Bootcamp that she thought would be ideal, Andrea came across the application for the UX Cabin internship. Weighing the options, the UX Cabin internship made a lot of sense:

  • Paid
  • Part-time
  • Dedicated mentor.
  • 100% remote.

🔥 She applied, was accepted, and started the internship a few days later!

Andrea's experience during the UX Cabin internship opportunity 1.0

Andrea appreciated that the internship was set up to be remote with intention. It allowed her the most flexibility to organizer her own schedule, learn at her own pace, and make the most of the opportunity.

Structure of each month

The internship had a structure that allowed each skill to build upon itself in the corresponding month.

  • Month 1️⃣ : Visual design foundation.
  • Month 2️⃣ : Research & design sprint process.
  • Month 3️⃣ : Personal project.

Reflection on the internship

  • Andrea Initially thought that she wanted to be a UX Researcher, but found out she really enjoyed the design aspect as well.
  • Andrea discovered that designing applications was a very systematic process and that it was  different from the creativity required for graphic design or art
"I can learn this visual stuff and I can apply it, even though I didn't go to art school. I can figure this out and I can actually get good at it."
  • Having a mentor and getting immediate feedback really helped hone Andrea's skillset and show her the ropes of product design.

During the internship, she was able to gain the experience and knowledge she had hoped for, and she received an offer for a full-time position to join the UX Cabin team. Andrea loves working remotely and connecting with team members across the globe. She's often collaborating with other team members on a call or pair designing in a Figma file.

She finds great value in working with a diverse team to learn more about the things she loves, including travel, languages, and different cultures.

"One of the coolest aspects of UX Cabin is that it's global and my coworkers are all over the world."

What to expect from the UX Cabin internship opportunity 2.0

Being a teacher and previous intern, Andrea was the perfect person to help craft and organize the UX Cabin internship 2.0. Take a look at the list below to learn more about what's included in this round of the internship program

🧠 Each intern will be paired with a mentor from the UX Cabin Design team.

2.0 Enhancement:
- Interns will have regularly scheduled check-ins with their mentor built-in.
- Mentors will offer pairing sessions where interns can watch them work on actual projects.

🎨 Month 1 will focus on the visual design foundations and Figma skillset.

2.0 Enhancement: Interns will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge with tangible design exercises and group critiques.

💪 Month 2 will dive into the process of research. Identify a product to build and go through a design sprint as a team + working collaboratively to build a prototype together.

🤔 For the final project, interns will identify a problem they want to solve and go through the end-to-end design process independently, with support from their mentor.

Does a UX Cabin internship sound interesting to you?

If you identify with the below callouts, then this internship may be the perfect opportunity for you!

📣 Entry-level designers who are interested in UX and Product Design.

👌 Designers who have little to no experience in UX or Product Design.

🎯 Designers who are highly motivated, identify as self-starters, and are well organized.

Thank you so much, Andrea!

Our Team Member Spotlight with Andrea provided true inspiration for anyone looking to make a career change into the world of design. We are thrilled that her pivot brought her to UX Cabin and that we get the opportunity to work with her as she continues to thrive in this industry. Thank you, Andrea, for joining our internship, then our team, and now this episode of The Product Design Podcast. We can't wait to see the success the next UX Cabin internship opportunity 2.0 brings.Make sure to listen to the complete episode, which includes an in-depth discussion about Andrea's career pivot and a deeper dive into the internship opportunity, over at The Product Design Podcast.

Don't forget to follow Andrea to watch as she continues to use her passion to impact the world of UX design. Check out her article "UX Design & K-12 Classroom Teaching: 4 Similarities," and you can also find her on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Where to find Andrea McKinley

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