Tori Franco
Jun 30 13 min read

Getting to Know: Natalee Wilhite, UX/UI Designer

Tell us about yourself.

I am from a small midwestern town called Buffalo. Not to be confused with Buffalo, NY, a bustling city filled with people and attractions. Rather Buffalo, Missouri, is home to a few thousand people and twice as much cow shit. Literally. You can smell it in the town square.

I made my way to Columbia, MO, a city of just over a hundred thousand. I thought, hey, progress! I spent the last four years at the University of Missouri. I graduated with my Bachelors in Mediated Communication, Business, and Digital Storytelling in May 2022.

I reside in Overland Park, Kansas, with my high school sweetheart and our two kitties, Kai (Fluff) and Satine (Teenie). I am obsessed with them.

  Suppose you are wondering, yes, I mean the cats. I mean, look at them!
 
 
Satine
 

How did you get started in your career?

On a Tuesday morning, I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. In my Digital Storytelling class, we had a guest speaker give a presentation about User Experience Design. It was something new that I had never heard of before. I looked around the room, and it seemed that nobody was interested. Yet, I was sitting thinking, " I know NOTHING about this, but I want to know EVERYTHING about it."

 

From there, I read books, articles, podcasts, online courses, everything, you name it. I became obsessed. I began writing my goals and manifesting the dream job I wanted. Then the craziest thing happened. Megan Darnell (a mentor, badass, and future sister-in-law) reached out to me, saying she had a company interested in someone like me. Then within a week, I was hired.

Now I don't believe in superstitions, but it cannot be a coincidence that I landed this job. I manifested it. Here's the proof.

Journal entry
 
 
 
Text message
 

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

The one person in particular who has inspired me ever since I was a child is Audrey Hepburn. Not only was she an incredible actress, but she was a selfless and talented woman. I have learned many life lessons from her. I will only name a few:

"The most important thing is to enjoy your life.- to be happy - it's all that matters."

 

"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

Just recently, I have been reading this book by Glennon Doyle (see below in resources). I have to say she has been a massive inspiration to me as of late. She comes from a rough background and toxic marriage and finds herself. She tells stories about her life in a relatable way, even if you haven't experienced exactly what she has. It is so beautifully written, and I can see myself reading it repeatedly. I would love to meet her. 

Natalee Audrey
 
 

What is the best part of your job?

Currently, I am the Product Coordinator at Finotta, where I am not only the "beautician" for our product but work to create the best user experience that solves real end-users problems.

 

The best part of my job would be the opportunity to grow and learn. Not many companies out there hire those who know little about the industry. So having the chance to be an idiot in this industry and learn from my team has been one of the best parts.

However, not to get too sentimental, I love the people. I love how inviting and caring they are, knowing so little about me and wanting to know me. From the start, I felt like I belonged here.

 
Finotta 2021
 
 

What are you passionate about?

I am a huge animal lover. Fun fact: before changing my major a billion times, I initially went to school to become a veterinarian. I have about four years of experience up my sleeves. I got to work with all types of animals. I hope to find a way to work with them.

 

Secondly, I am passionate about creating art in all forms. From digital to paper, I love expressing myself in visuals or writing. Here is a shameless plug:

 

https://vimeo.com/nataleewilhite

 

https://medium.com/@nlwbkq

I also may have a slight obsession with Star Wars.

Natalee Kangaroo
 
 
 
 
 
Natalee Snake
 
 

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

The most challenging part of my job is being uneducated in the industry. Coming into this role, I knew nothing about fintech and, honestly, finances in general. However, since working in the field, for now, six months, I have learned so much and have much more to go!

How do you think we can improve positive work cultures in the fintech industry?

I can't speak on this since I am incredibly new to the field. I am still learning myself. However, generally speaking, live by the golden rule to treat others as you wish to be treated. I have worked many service jobs, and if there is one thing I have learned, you never know what a person is going through. So be kind to others, and I am sure it will be in your favor one day. 

What advice would you give someone who is starting their career in your field? 

BE A SPONGE.

 

Absorb everything you can - books, podcasts, Ted talks, EVERYTHING.

Ask questions even if they seem silly. You never want to be the smartest person in the room.

What resources would you recommend? 

Self Improvement:

 

"Untamed" - Glennon Doyle (I am currently reading this and I would recommend every single woman reads this)

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" - Dale Carnegie (This is a staple here at Finotta)

 

Education:

https://www.airtable.com/universe/expqM3OWZoJkjl7wy/the-monster-list-of-ux-books?explore=true (Thanks, Leo, for the book list)

Udemy and Udacity - Online courses

The biggest thing for me was finding a mentor. If you can connect with someone more experienced in the field, they will be the most significant help in providing resources, advice, etc.

What are some rules you live by?

If you speak it, you will see it. Manifest the life you want to live and work every day to achieve it.

 

Everything happens for a reason, even if you don't understand the reason right away. It will reveal itself to you eventually.

 

Be patient. The best things in life come with time and patience.

 
Nobody really has everything figured out. Stop worrying.
 
 
Natalee and Wyatt
 
 
 
 
 
 
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