How I Went from UX Designer to Experience Designer at Spotify

5 minutes

Learning to code so that you can land a job in tech can feel daunting. That’s why we’re sharing inspiring stories from Codecademy’s community — to show how people like you (yes, you!) can embark on a learning journey and end up with a totally new career. We hope these stories serve as a reminder that there’s no single path to a more fulfilling work life.

Today’s story is from Tiffany Koval, a 28-year-old Experience Designer at Spotify, living in Los Angeles, California. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“I wasn’t one of those kids who went outside and played ball — I would stay inside, read, and learn. I was really inspired by these random blogs where people would code their own things. I would copy and paste a lot of like HTML, CSS, and PHP, which was really big back then.

After college, I worked as a medical scribe and did some research at UCSF. Then my friend persuaded me to join her company, and I started as a Market Research Intern. I worked on a few projects that were AI-leaning and focused. We had this internal language, which is really based off Python. I hadn’t dabbled in coding since I was a kid — it had been so long. I was really interested in going back and diving deep, because I think it really helps reinforce relationships with other engineers.

When you’re learning how to code, you need some kind of structure, and you want to know which pathway to take. There’s just so much out there that’s really varied. Codecademy was super helpful, and the Pro plan is what helped me start. I did the Front-End Engineer path.”

How I made time to learn

“To be quite frank, I think you can’t really learn on the side. You have to incorporate your learning into your current work, otherwise you will 100% forget it. Refreshing my memory on things that I’ve learned before, and then also trying to problem solve helps me learn. I can’t really divorce working and learning as separate things. They have to be together otherwise you’re just going to forget.”

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How I got in the door

“I was a Digital Product Designer at Casper, which was a design-heavy role with not a lot of coding. Then I worked as a UX Designer at a fashion company called AG Jeans where I used Optimizely to run experiments, which required a little bit of code.

I was applying and interviewing a lot of places, but of course, Spotify is one of my dream companies. I just liked the culture, and I would talk to people who worked at Spotify. But I looked at the job description for Experience Designer, and I felt like it really resonated with me. I honestly just applied with whatever I had,1 and I got an interview. Still to this day I feel like I got really lucky.”

How I nailed the interview

“The interview process was pretty interesting — it was not your standard technical interview. I had a designer and someone from marketing interviewing me, and then there was someone who led experimentation and engineering picking my brain. At Spotify, working cross-functionally is a huge thing.

They had a general ask for me: Test how to increase conversion on the premium landing page. They also wanted me to code the experiment as well; it was just a matter of mocking up different designs and then implementing them in CodePen.

I didn’t have to present anything on the spot or code it live, but they cared a lot about presentation. They told me I only had two hours to complete it. When it comes to coding, you can take a long time to make sure things look really good and code something really beautiful. So it was nerve-wracking.”

How day one and beyond went

“I do a bit of design, a bit of content strategy, and a little bit of coding and running experiments through Google Optimizely. The first month or so at Spotify, there’s a huge onboarding. As a brand, I think they want you to fully understand the product and the complicated tools before you run your first campaign, for example, or you start on your first assignment. I’m embedded on a team that does controlled experimentation for the premium landing page for Spotify. So I was kind of learning the process, and how they go from designing to coding to experimenting.

I was stressed the f-ck out when I actually had to do my first coding assignment. I had to make changes to the account page, using DOM manipulation2. There’s so many constraints I had never thought about before, and it was very overwhelming having to think about different locales, because Spotify is launched in 180 countries.”

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“Now that I know that you can’t really silo learning and working, I think I would have tried to do that more. When you’re taking a calculus class or something, you’re learning it but you’re not incorporating the tactics in your everyday life. If I could go back, I would just try to be more cognizant of that.

Sometimes I would just stop because I got busy or whatever, but really, continuous learning is the best. Because I do design and code, I like to problem solve. I’ll see something on a website, try to break it down by coding it, and just mock it up in CodePen or whatever. The thing is always to be open to learning and not be afraid.”

  1. Figuring out whether or not you have enough experience to apply for a job can feel like a huge hurdle. Read this blog for tips about how to navigate this common issue. ↩︎
  2. DOM is short for Document Object Model, the interface between JavaScript and HTML. You can learn how to work with the DOM in our courses Building Interactive JavaScript Websites and Learn jQuery: DOM Traversing. ↩︎

Learn like Tiffany

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Not sure where to start? Check out our personality quiz! We’ll help you find the best programming language to learn based on your strengths and interests.

Want to share your Codecademy learner story? Drop us a line here. And don’t forget to join the discussions in our community.

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