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my career path journey

No one can predict which path to take and where it will lead them throughout anyone's career path. Instead of a path, I like to view it as a journey, filled with multiple unexpected twists and turns, same as your personal life. What matters is how you will adjust to any of those turns and challenges. My career experience varies widely, ranging from fine arts, graphic design, UI design, product design, university visiting lecturer teaching UI/UX design, and UX strategist. Although different, but still connected and intertwined within the design realm. Here’s my career foundation and proceeding journey to where I am currently. My previous experiences helped prepare me for any new venture that presents itself to me. I would like to think I’m a well-rounded designer and creative thinker.
Click the boxes below to open & learn more about each milestone
Fine Artist
As I look back at my earliest memories, art has always been a part of my life milestones; I’ve always had an intense fascination with the fine arts. Which art has been the budding interest within the world of creation. What’s fascinating is that there are no limits on what you can create within fine arts. Since I was a young girl, art has been ingrained in me as a person; I knew I wanted to be a creator of some sort. I was majoring in Fine Arts in college, although sadly realized that I did not want to be a stereotypical starving artist. I would still create fine art projects in my free time, but I needed to figure out what would be a great career fit for me as a creative individual.
Graphic Designer
I noticed a hybrid of arts and the digital world merging, as the technology era was on the rise with smartphones getting popular and website practices changing to be responsive. During this time, I’ve transitioned to graphic design, in which I freelanced and worked at various design firms. Focusing on print design collateral the first few years, then with digital. One notable milestone was working as a graphic designer at Interior Design Magazine when living in New York City. I collaborated with the marketing team to provide them with event collaterals. Such as designing in-house printed magazine ads, branded events, and designing & code HTML emails promoting events. Occasionally I would work with the editorial team for their monthly magazines & seasonal print tabloid magazines.
Product Designer
During my time as a graphic designer, I would moonlight as a freelance UI/UX designer to gain experience within the ever-growing and evolving digital world. Also, I wanted to understand better the foundation of what to think when designing for a mobile and web app. I attended online UI/UX Design classes through the University of California San Diego, where I received a UI/UX Design certificate. I then realized that good design is visually nice to see, but great design is captivating an experience. User experience is essential to make the user's journey effortless by producing creative UX solutions to reduce confusion. When designing, I try to bridge visual aesthetics and purposeful functionality by eliminating any unnecessary user actions (extra clicks, taps, swipes, and scrolls). People should access content with the quickest interactions. Also, as product designers, you have to consider adding informative onboarding flows, which help them learn how to use the app. Mainly for first-time users rather than them diving into a void. You have to keep in mind that users won't have the same technical knowledge as each other. Just how each human is different depending on certain aspects, we can’t assume they are all at the same tech-savvy level. When forming a creative UX solution, you need to think about the users that are not super tech-savvy. How will you design a solution for the everyday person? Will they know that is an interactive asset within the app? Often, you need to think outside of your box to see how others view the box.
In one of my experiences, I was the Senior UI/UX Designer at Presentr, a B2B public speaking mobile training app, where I collaborated with the product manager, dev team, and Q/A specialist. It was a small startup company where I had to wear multiple hats such as Brand Designer, Product Designer, helped with user research, and managed design interns. Also collected data to help craft creative UX solutions for the app by conducting user testing, created the design system, A/B testing, led focus groups, and used heat map analysis.
Another startup experience was at Gro, an educational app that helps entrepreneur-minded people start up their business through a curated guided journey, from a business idea to help launch their new business. Gro consisted of multi-level modules, lessons, resources, and interactive assignments. Contracted as a Product Designer; I designed the front-end visual UI designs, mapped out flow charts for the user experience flows throughout the web app, and mockup every user scenario for the dev team. I collaborated with the Project Manager and dev team. Also, verified the user experience flow and designs were reflected correctly within the launched versions by bug tracking.
University Visiting Lecturer
Thankfully my previous experiences and understanding of design within multiple platforms helped prepare me to spread my knowledge about design as a whole confidently. Understanding how design can be fluid, also while considering a design thinking process, rather than just designing a visually pleasing design without a profound purpose. Teaching design became a natural evolution to me at the moment, and I was grateful for the experience. At the University of Maryland Baltimore County, I taught undergraduate students from Freshman to Senior level, so I have experience guiding students who are brand new to design and students who have a bit of experience under their belt. The courses I taught were Typography I, Graphic Design III, and Web II (UI/UX Design). To better understand me as an educator, you can read my teaching statement and view the courses I taught. To better understand me as an educator, you can read my teaching statement and view the courses I taught.
UX Strategist
I was contracted as a freelance UX Strategist to collaborate with the research team to analyze and observe user testing sessions to collect feedback for a well-known multinational hotel’s app. Also, I provided UX feedback and low-fidelity wireframes based on the user testing session for the design team. Although being a UX Strategist doesn’t involve me designing visually, I still feel a solid connection to this field and type of role since it involves creative thinking and generating UX solutions. Lately, I’ve been interested in finding out and understanding how to make a UX flow better for the end-users. It’s similar to being a product designer minus the visual design. It’s more about designing improved solutions, which I love to dig deeper into exploring within my career. I love to learn new techniques and processes of creative thinking; I am always up for a new challenge.
The following statement may sound cliché; although true, everything happens for a reason. Every experience and opportunity, full-time roles, and freelance gigs were perfect stepping stones throughout my career; each step had a valuable purpose to help me evolve career-wise. I believe that my multiple skill sets allow me to adapt to any situation and environment. I am genuinely grateful for each work experience, challenges, and successes that I have faced and will face in the future. They (my experiences) molded me into the person I am currently and supposed to be for my career journey and personally.

Full Résumé

Rica-Marie Arevalo
PRODUCT DESIGNER
Experience
Career Break / Maternity Leave
FEB 2022 – APR 2022
UX Strategist / Freelance
Jan 2022 – Feb 2022   /  Portland, Oregon (Remote)
Collaborated with the research team, to observe and analyze 12 user session interviews via LookBack to collect feedback for a well-known multinational hotel’s app. Consulted and communicated UX feedback, and generated low-fidelity wireframes in Figma for the design team.
Visiting Lecturer / Contract
Jan 2021 – Dec 2021   /  Baltimore, Maryland (Hybrid)
Instructed four courses (Typography I & III, Graphic Design III, and UI/UX Design). Developed course materials, graded and critiqued students’ designs. Supervised 30–40 students at different design levels per semester via a hybrid format. Coordinated with other professors to synchronize and refine course goals.
Product Designer / Freelance
OCT 2021 – NOV 2021   /  New York, New York (REMOTE)
Analyzed real user flow errors to diagnose and produce improved UX solutions to improve the checkout process. Built mockups in Figma using their existing design system. Tested the new UX prototype flow by conducting user testing sessions. Resulting in the performance rate increasing and checkout process duration time decreasing for a more effortless checkout process.
Career Break / Full-time Parenting
JUL 2019 – DEC 2021
Took care of my daughter while freelancing.
Product Designer / Freelance
OCT 2018 – OCT 2020   /  New York, New York (Hybrid)
Developed design system and user experience for a 12-step educational responsive web app. Collaborated with the dev. team, and product manager to meet sprint goals and execute product launch. Generated user scenarios and tested the product to debug.
Senior Graphic Designer / Freelance
OCT 2018 – OCT 2020   /  New York, New York (REMOTE)
Managed and designed an e-commerce website via Shopify. Produced promotional email campaigns and landing pages and collaborated with co-founders and the marketing team.
UI/UX Designer / Freelance
SEPT 2018 – APR 2019   /  San Francisco, California (REMOTE)
Revamped branding and formulated user flows, wireframes, and user scenarios for their five platform themes. Created prototypes for web and mobile. Collaborated with CEO, project managers, and dev team.
Senior UI/UX Designer / Full-time
APR 2017 – SEPT 2018   /  NEW YORK, New York (ON-SITE)
Redesigned branding, produced a new design system and user experience flow for their iOS & Android mobile and web app. Managed design interns and observed focus groups to analyze data to improve UX. Constructed user flows, user scenarios, wireframe mockups, and prototypes. Debugged product. Collaborated with co-founders, project manager, dev. team, and QA.
Graphic Designer / Full-time
NOV 2014 – APR 2017   /  NEW YORK, New York (ON-SITE)
Strategized potential branding design themes for at least 5 events per year; collaborated with the Editor-in-Chief, Art Director, and Director of Marketing. Designed and coded HTML email campaigns. Generated editorial design layouts for the tabloid issues. Interacted directly with clients on magazine ads process.
View Projects
NeoCon

NeoCon

Tabloid

Market Tabloid

Best of 10

Best in 10

Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Event Postcard

Event Postcard

IIDA

IIDA

Best of Year

A&D

Best of Year

Best of Year

DDC Dinner Menu

DDC Dinner Menu

UI Designer / Freelance
SEPT 2014 – NOV 2014   /  Ontario, Canada (REMOTE)
Streamlined UI elements for private landing pages. Collaborated with the project manager.
Graphic Designer / Freelance
JUN 2014 – NOV 2014   /  Ashburn, Virginia (REMOTE)
Produced print and digital marketing collaterals for clients.
Junior UI Designer / Freelance
SEPT 2014 – OCT 2014   /  Redmond, Washington (REMOTE)
Designed user interface for a B2B three-function tablet app dedicated to helping small business owners manage their business. Produced user flows, wireframes, and prototypes.
Graphic Designer / Full-time
Drohan Management Group
MAR 2013 – JUN 2014   /  RESTON, Virginia (ON-SITE)
Proposed potential branding redesign versions for annual events to clients. Designed multi-page event handouts, and web assets.
Graphic Designer / Freelance
Plude Communications
NOV 2012 – DEC 2013   /  RESTON, Virginia (REMOTE)
Created digital presentations. Collaborated with CEO, Product Manager and clients.
Graphic Designer / Internship
MAY 2011 – AUG 2011   /  WASHINGTON D.C. (ON-SITE)
Graphic Designer / Freelance
Academy for Educational Development
MAY 2010   /  WASHINGTON D.C. (REMOTE)
Tools
Adobe Creative Cloud Suite
XD, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects
Project Management
Jira, Asana, Freedcamp, Trello, Clubhouse.io
User Testing
FullStory, UserTesting.com, LookBack
Flowcharts & Whiteboards
FigJam, Miro, Lucidcharts, Omnigraffle, Draw.io
Mockup & Prototype
Adobe XD, Figma, InVision
Content Management
Wordpress, Shopify, SquareSpace
Communication
Slack, Zoom, Google Meet, BlueJeans, Webex, Microsoft Teams, Skype
Presentation
Google Slides, Keynote, PowerPoint
Educational
Blackboard Ultra
Skills
Design
Branding, graphic design, web design, illustration, HTML, CSS, print design
Product Design & UX Strategy
UX, UI, design systems, creative problem-solving, managed focus groups, user flow, wireframe production, prototyping, web (desktop app), mobile app design, usability testing, A/B testing, bug testing, focus groups, beta testing
Work Environment
Environments
Startups, corporate (medium–small), agency firms
Formats
Onsite, remote/online (Asynchronous & Synchronous)
Education
Certificate in UI/UX Design
University of California San Diego, 2013
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphic Design
The Art Institute of Washington, 2012
Contact