"Never stop learning."
Julia Trang Nguyen
Julia graduated from the University of California of Santa Barbara with a degree in Sociology and a Health and Wellness Certificate from 2013 -2017. During her time at university, she did a study abroad program in South Korea at Yonsei University in August 2016. After a couple years in the working world, she enrolled at IE to pursue the Masters of Visual and Digital Media in Madrid, Spain from 2019-2020. It was there she found her passion in UX Research & Design as well as cultivated her leadership role as one of the Class Representatives.
Julia Trang Nguyen, United States
UX UI Designer - Accenture Interactive / Volunteer Product Manager - Develop for Good
- Program studied
Define your experience in one word
In what ways do you think program has changed your life professionally and personally?
Throughout middle school to undergrad, I believed a career in design or the creative field was risky as creative careers were less prioritized in the USA; And when I was attending the University of California of Santa Barbara (UCSB), success meant graduating with majors that guaranteed a job such as accounting (econ), computer science, engineering etc.
This mindset changed when I decided to pursue a Masters in Visual and Digital Media (MVDM) at IE in Madrid, Spain from 2019-2020. This program made me realize that it was possible to “make” it with a career in the creative industry.
The Masters of Visual and Digital Media (MVDM) is life-changing as I found my passion in UX Design as well as discovered bits about myself through the classes that were offered. I realized I LOVE web design and enjoyed coding (html & css) even though it was really frustrating that one mistake can take HOURS to fix. Product Management classes also aligned with professional goals as a leader and so I got the opportunity to further develop my leadership skills as one of the Class Representative and IE Student Ambassador.
Thus, the Masters of Visual and Digital Media (MVDM) program helped me shift my mindset as well as developed my skills to pursue my dream career in UX Design and side hustles in Product Management and Coding.
When I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I volunteered as a Product Manager for a non-profit called Develop for Good; With this role, I was leading a team of international UX Designers for an in-house website redesign that caters to 50+ non-profit partners including UNICEF, World Health Organization, World Bank and many more. After one year later (September 2021), I landed my full-time job as a UX Designer at Accenture Interactive.
What has been your favorite memory of your experience?
Spain was placed under lockdown during the Covid Pandemic in March 2019 and it all happened so fast; our program had to transition to the virtual environment so we had to learn how to collaboratively work together through online tools like Zoom & Adobe Connect. With lack of opportunities to socialize in-person, we planned a lot of team building events when lockdown was over which included a trip to Rascafria.
Why did you choose to study this program at IE?
Back in 2018, I was living in Shanghai, China as an English Teacher and also taking on roles as a Social Team leader and Office Manager. During my time there, I traveled a lot to many other countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, The Philippines etc and documented those journeys with my GoPro. I also taught myself premiere pro and created travel videos.
At some point, I wanted to move to Spain and found IE accidently through a website and applied since it aligned with my learning goals as a videographer and photographer at the time. I enrolled and it changed my life ever since.
What were some of the main challenges that you encountered on your way? How did your Master program and IE help you through these challenges?
The biggest challenge and learning experience were teamwork as each group consisted of people with diverse skills sets, backgrounds, cultures and perspectives in life. With IE emphasis on teamwork, it was a struggle to divide the work accordingly / fairly and there was the added stress of bad group work ethics due to poor communication and collaboration.
Like with any group, we went through a honeymoon stage first term and eventually it led to the conflicts & disagreements during the second term. With the guidance of our Director Vincent, we did a retrospective during our third term to understand what went wrong and how we can hold each other accountable for the project’s deliverables. It was THAT meeting that helped us solve our problems and finish off the Master’s strong. I am very proud of my team and how much we have grown throughout the program; it was a very rewarding and amazing learning experience.
With this Masters, I got the opportunity to work with many wonderful diverse people from different backgrounds who have helped me grow in so many ways. I also learnt that successful group work starts and ends with the 3 Cs, which are collaboration, commitment and communication.
What is networking like in the program?
What is amazing about this Masters is the number of ways IE makes sure you graduate with the skills sets to be successful. During the program, there were many classes that catered to professional development such as building your LinkedIn, Resume and Cover letter crash courses.
There were also many opportunities to network with alumni as my program began the MVDM pilot Mentor Program where each group was assigned with an alumnus as our mentor. And 2 years later, I get the opportunity to come back as an alumni mentor for the current MVDM 2021 students. It is quite amazing!
My advice to future students is to take advantage of your education at IE by being proactive; This means joining student groups, taking leadership positions, ramping up your LinkedIn and being ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’ as you learn the most when you put yourself out there.