Quebec, Canada 🇨🇦

Valentin Nguyen

Memorisely Bootcamp Student

Bonjour hi! I’m a budding product designer with a background in Psychology! I’m a barber by trade and a huge geek, I love learning new things and connecting with people! 👋
Chat in Slack

Where are you from and/or where are you based as a Memorisely student?

I was born in Belgium but moved to Montreal (Quebec, Canada) when I was 10 years old. I absolutely adore Montreal and its European charm actually reminds me of my childhood a lot (below is a picture of the Old Port in Montreal, which never fails to bring back memories of the Grand-Place in Brussels). I dream about going back to Europe to visit and compare my childhood memories to reality.

Our winters are very long and very cold, but the snow can be quite nice! This is my girlfriend Julie and her siblings Tony and Marie-Noël, which we have custody of. Everything I do is for them.

What inspired you to pursue UX/UI and become a designer?

I studied Psychology in university and was passionate about academic research and science communication. One of my research internships was in e-mental health and we worked with psychiatric patients to inform the development of platforms such as websites and peer-support forums. It was during this internship that I was first introduced to user-centered design and user experience as a field. Another highlight during my studies was being editor-in-chief of our student journal; I really enjoyed revamping its branding and layout with the help of a friend who was a graphic designer!

After my studies, I caught the entrepreneurial bug and opened my private barbershop (I currently still cut hair on the side). I’m a very curious person, and one of the best parts about being a barber is meeting people from all walks of life and industries. Many of my clients have become close friends, and I consider myself very privileged to have such a diverse and supportive network of friends.

When the pandemic hit, I joined a youth mental health non-profit as the community manager for their new peer-support forum. In that role, I got to conduct user research and collaborate with leadership and the development team on product features. This cross-functional collaboration really cemented my interest in product design, and that’s when I decided to enroll in Memorisely’s UX/UI bootcamp!

Which Bootcamp did you choose to enroll in, and why?

When researching UX bootcamps, I wanted the opportunity to gain as much hands-on experience as possible. One of my clients, Sam Beushausen, was taking the Design Systems bootcamp at the time (he now teaches it!), and recommended me to look into the UX/UI bootcamp. I read all I could about Memorisely, joined its Slack community, and reached out to local alumni to learn more about their student experience. I was really impressed by everything I saw and decided to take the plunge!

What's it like to be a student in Memorisely's virtual classroom?

I had pretty high expectations coming in, but I’m happy to say that the student experience has been even better than expected! Zander is an incredible educator and has remote teaching down to a science. His contagious energy puts everyone at ease and motivates us all to participate during class. The teaching assistants (Flavio and Rianne) are also amazing! I always look forward to obtaining their feedback during Office Hours. I’ve also been so impressed by my fellow classmates!

What has been your favorite part of Bootcamp so far? What's one learning that has surprised you in Bootcamp?

My favorite part of Bootcamp has been the remote collaboration with Kevin Gabathuler, my case study partner! He’s based in Liechtenstein, and we had a lot of fun learning and brainstorming together. Another highlight was the case study presentation - it was fascinating to see everyone’s process and their final prototype. I felt so inspired afterwards!

One learning that surprised me during bootcamp is how much “copying”, or “stealing like an artist” there is in UX/UI design. When you analyze apps you start to realize that they all share commonalities in terms of flows or layouts - no need to reinvent the wheel, but every element does have to be intentional and in service to the bigger picture. It was actually an empowering realization, as it turns UX/UI Design from an abstract art into a methodological craft you can learn over time.

What is the biggest challenge you face learning UX/UI Design?

My biggest challenge has definitely been dealing with my inner critic. For instance, being new to Figma and UI Design, I spent an embarrassing amount of time experimenting with styles, illustrations, and components before being somewhat satisfied with the visual look of my first high-fidelity prototype. I will then see something on Dribble or a great portfolio... and feel frustrated towards my current level. I try to remind myself to trust the process and to take it one day at a time, but that’s much easier said than done!

What does a typical day look like for you as a student?

I’m a night owl so I usually wake up around 10am and start the day with an espresso and a shower. I then spend some time on the phone/reply to messages, and do some housework before class starts at 12pm. After class, I like to eat and get some fresh air before cutting hair until 9pm. I then eat dinner and spend some quality time with the family until everyone goes to bed. 11pm to 3am is my fun time! That’s when I’ll be the most productive and consume UX-related content, practice in Figma, and work on the case study. I’ve been trying to reverse my schedule and sleep/wake up early... but I’m currently typing this at 4am.

Learn UX/UI live →

What is your current workspace setup?

Depending on the time of day or the type of work I’m doing, I’m either working from the couch or at my desk! Having an external monitor has been an absolute game changer.

What are your go-to or "must have" apps?

Figma, Notion, and Slack: The bootcamp trifecta! I love running Figma prototypes on my phone to get a better feel of my prototype (you might realize something you thought looked good in Figma is actually too small or too big) or to get feedback from friends.

LinkedIn: To network and to see what everyone is up to professionally.

Instagram: I’ve been following a lot of UX/UI pages for inspiration. The community on there (as well as Youtube and TikTok) is great!

Reddit: How do people live without Reddit?!

Notes: To quickly jot down ideas and thoughts.

Spotify: Life without music would B flat. I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Acuity Scheduling: My client scheduling app.

What (digital or physical) product recently blew your socks off?

I swear this is not an ad, but one of my clients became a crypto millionaire during COVID and tipped me 100$ to invest with Shakepay. Shakepay is an app that allows Canadians to buy/sell Bitcoin and Ethereum. You shake your phone once a day, and the app gives you free satoshis (satoshis are the smallest unit of Bitcoin, so in other words you’re getting free Bitcoin)! The longer the streak, the more satoshis you can earn each day. By adding 100$ in my Shakepay account, my client and I also both got a 30$ referral bonus.

I remember thinking this was too good to be true, but I’ve been using the app everyday for the past year now. The free satoshis is such a smart way to make users build the habit of opening the app everyday. By doing so, users see the value of BTC and ETH go up and down, and then buy or sell accordingly (Shakepay makes money on the spread). The interface is also super simple, so it was the perfect introduction to crypto for me. I hope to work on such cool products during my career! Their UX has definitely made me invest more money into BTC and ETH than originally intended!

What tunes do you listen to while designing?

I have a pretty eclectic taste in music but I gravitate towards Mono (my favorite post-rock band) when I really want to get in the zone. They’re from Japan but they tour worldwide and they are absolutely mind-blowing live. Go see them if you get the chance, I promise they will rock your soul and change your life.

Share three pieces of advice for fellow and/or future students?

  1. I know this can be difficult as an introvert myself, but don’t be shy! Participate in class, ask questions, reach out to people, share your work and ask for feedback, etc. Everyone is really friendly and eager to share!
  2. The bootcamp is fast-paced and there are some tight turnarounds, so make sure to dedicate enough time outside of class hours to work on the case study and continue learning.
  3. Keep an open and learning mind! Take the time to self-reflect, and be aware of your own biases. On the other hand, don’t let self-doubt hold you back!

Thanks for reading my story!

Quebec, Canada 🇨🇦

Valentin Nguyen

Memorisely Bootcamp Student

Fancy a coffee?

I'd love to grab a coffee and chat about
Product Design
🗓 Book time to chat

Ready to become a UX/UI designer?

As you'll have gathered, we're open and honest and would love to have you join our next UX/UI Bootcamp!
View Bootcamps →