Getting my first UX design job abroad

Joy Almazan headshot.
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It’s been about five years since I began my journey as a UX designer. In 2021yup, amid the pandemicI decided to take the plunge and move abroad for work, may I add, for the first time in my life! Moving from my home country, Brazil, to Vancouver, Canada, was undoubtedly a big adventure, and one I’m happy I took! Now living in Canada and working as an intermediate UX/UI designer at TTT Studios, I want to share my lessons and experiences with fellow designers who may be looking to do the same one day.

What led me to seek work abroad?

My hometown, São Paulo, is Brazil’s economic capital. It is a strong tech contender and a place full of opportunities. Despite its abundance, I was ready to grow my career internationally and explore the UX design market beyond my local region. 

I try to live by the motto “Life is too short.” To me, this means taking advantage of opportunities that come your way. I was after an experience, and I wanted to be in a new environment where I could learn and explore diverse cultures. At the time, I thought, what better place to do that than by moving to one of the most diverse cities!

My research also backed my decision to move to Canada. Before deciding on the Great White North, I looked into which countries offered the best opportunities in my industry and where was economically feasible. My research led me to Vancouver. For those who don’t know, Vancouver is one of Canada’s tech capitals, so it only made sense that a designer like myself would move there; plus, the view isn’t too bad.

Scenic view of Vancouver.
Caption: Scenic view of Vancouver.

Preparing to move abroad during the pandemic

As we all know, Covid-19 made travel almost impossible. The pandemic prolonged my and my husband’s visa application from getting approved. My work permit was linked to my husband’s study permit, so we needed to be in Canada before the end of 2021 because of his schooling. All these factors led to us having two months to pack and say goodbye to friends and family quite abruptly before we officially moved to Canada.

I highly recommend referring to your country of interest’s government website for those looking to move abroad for work. Canada’s government website was where I found a lot of helpful information. Visa applications can also be pretty hard, so I hired an immigration consultant to assist with the application process.

The hiring process for a UX designer position

Once I arrived in Vancouver, I hit the ground running. I was applying to UX positions almost daily. I needed to find a company that allowed me to grow and had a strong design culture and teamwork environment. It took about a month before I landed my first position as a UX/UI designer, and in that time, I did around 25 interviews.

I appreciated how fast Canada’s hiring process was. When going through the job applications in Brazil, you often wouldn’t hear back from the hiring managers, leaving you unsure. In Canada, you’re kept updated throughout the hiring process and given feedback that can assist with future interviews. Here’s an example as a quick timeline of my hiring process while interviewing for UX positions. The whole process took roughly 20 days, from the initial interview offer to the final response:

  • Screening calls with HR employees
  • Exchange of a few calls with managers and design team leads 
  • Two design challenges to complete and submit

Working as a UX/UI designer at TTT Studios

I joined the TTT Studios team as a UX/UI designer within a month of arriving in Canada. During my first week at TTT Studios, I was impressed by their focus on my growth and success. I was asked to fill out a form discussing my professional goals and which skills I wanted to improve within my first and second years of working here. I’d never worked for a company that put such an emphasis on my development. Each team member also receives an education budget for books, courses, and events. I’ve already used a portion of my budget to go towards Interaction Design Foundation’s (IxDF) course: How to Design for Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Joy working on laptop in office.
Caption: Joy Almazan working at TTT Studios.

My day-to-day at TTT as UX/UI designer is always exciting since every day can look different. First, I decide whether I want to go to the office or work from homethe perks of TTT, you can work from anywhere. I love the flexibility TTT offers! I usually go to the office for meetings, stand-ups, and enjoy having some lunch with the team. I then quickly scan my emails and calendar to check for meetings and deadlines. Once a week, the Design Team has a meeting to discuss the projects each of us is working on, so that helps me stay organized and updated for the week. My days can also focus on preparing materials for our client’s upcoming Discovery Session or meeting with members of the Development Team to discuss project details; other days can also look like me putting my headphones, and just go into a state of flow, focusing on designing, for example, journeys, wireframes, or final screens.

Joy working remotely.
Caption: Joy Almazan working remotely.

My advice to designers seeking work abroad 

This may sound a little cliché, but it’s true: take the time to master your skills. I encourage you to look through the readily available resources catered to the product design community. Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Whether attending meet-ups, expanding your network, or applying for a position you’re not sure you will meet all the requirements for, go for it! 

I also want to remind everyone that your perspective matters. Each of us brings a whole new set of experiences to the table, and that’s important for a team to succeed. In my case, every project I’ve ever worked on taught me something that I can apply to future projects with my team at TTT. 

Joy working on wireframe concepts.
Caption: Joy Almazan working at TTT Studios.

My work at TTT Studios

To finish off my blog post, I’d like to share some pretty cool concepts I got to develop with TTT that I’m very proud of! These UI concepts were really fun to work on, and they allowed me to explore my creative side while also improving my overall skills.

The Women Around mobile app concept.
Caption: The Women Around mobile app concept.
Credit: Joy Almazan of TTT Studios.
Trail Finder mobile app concept.
Caption: Trail Finder mobile app concept.
Credit: Joy Almazan of TTT Studios.

About TTT’s Design Team

We have a diverse Design Team with processes designed to keep the user at the center of the products we deliver to our clients. If you want to learn more about the fun things that TTT Studios’ Design Team gets into, check out TTT’s dribbble portfolio to see some of their creative concepts.

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