Newbie Feature: Jonathan Martinez / UX Product Design

Monday, January 25, 2021

WHO: Jonathan Martinez

WHERE: Orlando, FL

WHAT: UX/Product Designer - Independent Contractor 

He considers himself a Nerd, Blerd, and POC

SALARY EST.: I’m looking at roles that pay in the range of $90k - $120k

NIT Staff: It's stories like the one Jonathan is about to tell that really motivates NIT to continue highlighting professionals with non-traditional backgrounds. We wanted him to share his story to inspire someone who might be on the verge of giving up or thinking they just aren't cut out for tech. We want the person who feels like their background in life might be too much for their Ivy League co-workers. We want you to know they have what it takes to tech. We want Jonathan's story to inspire you but we also want you to encourage and inspire him. We're a community and we believe that if you want it bad enough, no one can stop you!

Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, Jonathan tell us a little more about your background:

I am an Independent Contractor but I’m interviewing for Senior Level roles as a Product Designer. I enjoy being an Independent Contractor because it allows me to work on multiple projects and develop a range of unique experiences. I’m interviewing for full-time roles looking to work with companies that are purpose-driven and human-centered.

I am a 3rd generation Puerto Rican American. I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY in the late 80s. It was evident to me how the war on drugs impacted our families and community. I was separated from my mother as an infant and I grew up mostly with a foster family but returned to the foster care system as a teen. I aged out at 18 and had lived chronically homeless for 7 consecutive years before securing housing. During my homelessness, I attended a technical college that was within walking distance and I graduated with an Associate Degree in Graphic Design. I was homeless for 2 years after I graduated before landing my first job.’

I started leaning more into tech as I began to realize that the demand for print design wasn’t nearly as high as the demand for the design of apps and websites. That’s when I chose to learn UX/UI Design.

NIT Staff: Your story is so similar to that of our Founder who also grew up in the foster care system due the war on drugs in America. She was also homeless after obtaining her professional degree and found it difficult after aging out of foster care. The key difference is your ability to keep going even though you had nowhere to live for years at a time while she only had it for months. We applaud your ability to keep going after your dreams but also have to take a hard look at the way society has set up many foster youths to backtrack. Although, some think we're adults by age sometimes it takes way more than that. Family support is such a huge part of many people's success yet they fail to realize it because they've never had it taken from them. Again, the story of triumph...we're sure, has come with its pains.

How did your traditional education (or non-traditional) prepare you for your current job?

All of the skills that came from what I learned in my degree program were transferable skills that are very useful to have today.

What do you do to stay up-to-date on your technical certifications and knowledge?

I don’t have any technical certifications but I do stay up to date on all things UX by being active in the online communities on social media and reading niche blogs.

What coding language (if any) are you most comfortable with?

A big debate in the design community is whether or not designers should code. HTML/CSS and JavaScript are important to understand but I don’t believe that designers have to know how to code, just know enough to be dangerous.

What is your biggest challenge working in tech?

There’s a big misconception between UX & UI surprisingly enough. The issue is that these two terms are often being used interchangeably but they’re actually two different things. UI is short for User Interface. UX is short for User Experience. UI is the what, and UX is the how. I find myself having to explain the differences often. This is a big challenge because the expectations between myself as the designer and the client could be misinterpreted quickly based on a misunderstanding of UX & UI.

UI is the what, and UX is the how.

What the coolest project you have worked on?

I created a prototype triggered by voice for a client and that was pretty cool. I think that voice is going to start to dominate soon.

What are you passionate about outside of tech?

I’m a really big fan of Reggaeton, which is urban Latin music. I have a loving Girlfriend and I own a Bearded Dragon as a pet.

Got any favorite tech jokes or embarrassing stories?

There’s a lot of really funny memes out there on Social Media, especially about clients wanting to make their logo bigger but be careful because some people find it to be unprofessional to share those memes.

What are your goals for the future?

Honestly, I want to still work in tech but eventually build a nice robust real estate portfolio and retire pretty young. Hopefully around 45 or 50.

Who’s your favorite Tech celebrity and why?

I love Chris Do, he is brilliant! I honestly believe that anyone getting into Design can learn so much just from Chris Do’s content alone.

Best advice you have for Newbie trying to get into tech?

Never compare yourself to others. Only focus on being better than where you were yesterday. Timing is critical, be mindful of time. The pandemic is tragic and terrible, but the timing of the pandemic showed the entire world how to work remotely. Above all be self-aware and use that to your advantage.

Best place you would consider for resources online?

Books: Design of everyday things, Sprint, How to design habit-forming products, radical candor, deep work, rework. Resources:,,,,


Where can Newbies connect with you online?

I’m active on Twitter & Instagram @jmthecreative