Climb Credit Student Interview: General Assembly Graduate Kristy Glassick
Climb: What made you originally start thinking about attending your program?
Kristy: I'd been [at a non-profit for] four years, and I was starting to feel a little bit stagnant. It's a little hard to move up...I think I had just been married 8 months...We had bought a house together, so we had a mortgage payment to consider. I wasn't looking to quit my job and find something else, so I was kind of looking for a medium—something that I could learn more about, and if it was interesting to me, then try to transition my career in that direction.
I had a friend who took the Immersive User Experience course at General Assembly, and I took her out to dinner and we talked about it. We talked about the cost and the benefits, and she was the one who encouraged me, if I couldn't do the immersive course which is significantly more expensive and you really have to quit your job, to try out the part-time course. So I ended up, in the spring of last year , looking into it and signing up for the part-time course.
C: And what made you choose to get a loan from Climb?
K: As I mentioned, we had financial obligations and were always on a budget. Financing the program out of pocket wasn't an option, so the only way that I could afford to take the program was to apply for credit. I worked with General Assembly to look at the different options, and I applied with Climb and got approved, and it just made really good sense. I was making this investment in my future—that part was easy to rationalize, that you're paying money for this course, and it's going to influence your career. The financing part made it possible. Being able to pay it off bit by bit, as my career changed and I was making more money, would be much more reasonable than trying to find a way to pay it off all at once, or putting it on a credit card.
C: So then, once you decided to move forward with Climb, how would you describe the process?
K: It's been a year and a half, but if I remember correctly it was a really simple process. It was the basic information you'd expect to get from someone who was going to give you a loan, and then I was approved quickly, and they handled everything well with General Assembly. I wasn't worried about them paying General Assembly...I set up automatic payments, it's a decent interest rate, it's a low payment every month, and it just makes it really simple.
C: Do you think, if you hadn’t received financing, you would have moved forward with your General Assembly course?
K: 100%, not getting financing would have stopped me. I don't think I would have been comfortable just paying that money upfront and then trying to figure out how to pay myself back later. It would have been too much of a stretch.
C: To go back to your time at General Assembly, what are some of the most valuable skills or lessons you learned from your program?
K: I would start with the graphic design element. When I was going into the program, I had never heard of Sketch, which is what we ended up using and what I've used since whenever I'm designing things and doing wireframes. That was a skill I really needed that I didn't have, and I learned a lot from them in that respect.
The other thing that I would say I learned that was really valuable was just general best practices and understanding some of the nuances of web and app design—so things like how responsive design works, and the relationship between people who are coding websites or apps and designers, and how to navigate those relationships.
C: And after the program was finished, what did your new job search look like, and how long did it take to find a new job?
K: I graduated from the program in April of last year, and I really enjoyed it—the instructors were great. General Assembly is such a welcoming community, and even after I graduated they were willing to give me a couple of tips and tricks on what to do next. What I ended up doing was actually a little unconventional. I decided that I did want to do user experience, that it was something I was passionate about, that it was something that I could see myself doing long-term and really enjoying.
So, what I ended up doing was starting some pro bono work for The Williamsburg Winery over here on the East Coast, and that turned into a longer-term contract, so I formed my own company. Now, I have this steady income from working in marketing, and then I spend the rest of my time working on my business, building and maintaining websites for small-to-medium companies.
C: Was owning your own business an idea you’d always had, or was it something that came about during or after the program?
K: It just kind of came up, and it's funny because I feel like in life there are always a couple of “aha” moments, and mine was last year on my birthday—I turned 30 on December 10th—and I woke up that morning and thought to myself, why am I sitting around knowing what I want and waiting for someone else to give me an opportunity? Why wouldn't I just take this leap of faith? I know what I'm doing, I'm good at it and passionate about it, I can connect with people—why don't I just do this on my own? And I swear I woke up that morning, I went to my computer, I designed my logo, I designed my website, I put together my business plan and applied for my paperwork, and then my business was formed.
C: It definitely takes a lot of confidence to start a company on your own. Is that confidence something you found through your General Assembly course, or did you already have the confidence and General Assembly gave you the skills you needed?
K: I think I had the confidence and General Assembly gave me the skills. The nice thing about user experience is that, since I have such a strong background in marketing, there's a lot of crossover between branding work and user experience work—you're really looking at the same kind of questions, it's just applying the information differently. So I already knew some of the stuff going into the user experience course, but they laid the foundation for things that I needed to know to succeed in this field.
C: What kind of projects are you working on in your business?
K: I've done quite a number of projects and website launches since I started my business. It's been a busy year—I’ve launched about five websites and done other related work, such as an application design, website analytics, SEO, and some content creation. I work with two clients regularly to maintain and improve their website and am looking to grow in my second year of business.
C: How does running a business compare to the job you had before you attended General Assembly?
K: It's novel, which is part of the excitement. In marketing, most everything rolls along the same way. It can be hard to really think outside the box, but working in my business, everything is always moving forward. It's different, we're thinking in new ways, we're getting creative, so that really does allow me to work on projects that make me feel fulfilled at the end of the day, that make me excited to wake up and get started in the morning.
C: Looking back at the application process, is there anything you would do differently?
K: I don’t think there’s anything that really stands out as something I would have done differently. I don't want to say it all kind of just fell together because it didn't—it was hard work, and it was a lot of exploring who I am, who I want to be, and where I want my career to go. I would describe it more as a small piece of a much larger journey that's just getting started.