Have you ever thought about making a career change? 🤔
Do you think it’s too hard?
Do you think it feels too risky?
Do you think it might be very late?
Well, you are certainly not alone. 👯♀️
I have been there! I did a career change from Human Resources to UX Design in my 30’s. This article was written and shared by me earlier this year on the Matcha Design Labs’ blog. I was then working as a UX/product designer on MDL’s design team.
What inspired you to search for a new career? ⚡️
My journey into UX design is definitely not straightforward. My search started when I was working as a human resource professional and took a break to spend time with my newly born son. I loved working as an HR professional. I loved the fact that the work that we do as HR professionals, enables employees and the overall organization to reach company objectives. However, the work itself was not challenging enough for me and I wanted to see if there was a career path where my creative side can be better utilized to make a bigger impact. I knew that I wanted to find that path and I was ready to be patient until I found one.
How did you discover UX? 👀
I had no idea what UX design was back then. During the break, I started exploring other career options. My husband and a lot of our friends were in tech at the time and I felt drawn to the conversations about their jobs and the products that they were working on. I was fascinated by their work. So I started dabbling into Software testing and then started teaching myself how to code. Next, I worked with a couple of non-profit organizations as a Junior Front-end Developer. By this time I also worked with a couple of UX designers and the work that they were producing felt so much more interesting to me than the code I was writing. That’s when I really gave serious thought to transitioning into UX design. It all happened very gradually. I would say over the period of 2–3 years.
What was the first step you took to prepare yourself for your transition into a career in UX? 👩💻
I started reading anything and everything about design in general. I also started reading some classic books on UX design in my spare time. All those books really taught me that design is not just about aesthetics. There is a thought process that goes behind every design decision that’s made.
Apart from reading and getting familiar with the industry, I knew that I need to start my formal training in design. With my schedule and my responsibilities, I didn’t have time to enroll in a master’s degree.
That’s when I discovered a couple of courses from Coursera on Human-Computer Interaction and enrolled myself to dig deeper into the topic. I loved every single topic that I was studying through the course. While searching further, I came across a few UX Design boot camps. After taking time to research and after talking to some designers in the industry, I decided to go with CareerFoundry. I was super impressed with some of CF’s alumni portfolios. It felt like a great place to start my formal training as a UX/UI designer.
How did you position yourself for your first UX role? 👩💼
I was very nervous during the course. That imposter syndrome definitely did bite me hard at times. But while going through CareerFoundry’s course, I made a few connections with fellow students as well as my mentor and tutor. Along with the course work, I was also curious to discuss a lot about the industry and how they got started. During this time, I met (virtually) people who came from different walks of life. I realized that there are many different paths into UX and the industry welcomes transferable skills from other disciplines, making it a great conversion career. This gave me a lot of confidence.
After finishing the course at CareerFoundry, I was definitely ready with a portfolio showcasing a few projects ready to share in my interview. However, I realized that I am just another alumni, among many others out there. To set me apart, I started reaching out to people every single day. I made a spreadsheet, where I logged the details of my applications. I decided to send out at least 10 job applications and reaching out to at least 2 people on LinkedIn every workday. I was persistent in my efforts and enjoyed the process without feeling too much stressed about it.
What was the number one thing that helped make your transition successful? 🚀
I always believed in the power of a positive attitude. So, despite all of the self-doubts and inner uncertainty, I kept telling myself that it’s possible, as long as I do my best every single day. And I just did that…just did my best every single day!
What resources do you turn to most to help you continue to level up? 📚
There are so many great resources to help us, designers, constantly learn and grow to become the next best version of ourselves. I make sure that I spend at least 15 minutes each day reading through these and learning as much as I can. Here are some of the resources I use.
- Blogs and Articles 📃
It’s important to read what others in the industry are writing about UX design. Their experiences are valuable for us to learn from and apply in our own designs. Some of the resources that I really enjoy reading and learning from are listed below.
One easy way to stay on top of these is to use a news aggregator app like Feedly. It compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources of your choice. This makes it super easy for me to browse through all the important articles in one place.
2. Design Podcasts 🎙
There are so many great podcasts available that you can take advantage of. A lot of times you will hear people sharing their design ideas or thought processes that can be extremely beneficial for you in your work or just to keep a pulse on all things design.
Some of my favorite design podcasts are as follows:
2. Dribbble and Behance 👩💻
A couple of great places to stay in touch with the fellow designer community and follow their work is Dribbble and Behance. These are also great if you want to showcase your portfolio or sample of what you are working on.
3. Follow thought leaders on social media 💻
There are so many great UX designers to follow on social media. Personally, I use Instagram
and Twitter to follow amazing thought leaders as well as fellow designers in the UX field. Here are a few:
What advice would you give a newly minted UX Designer? 📌
- Embrace feeling like an imposter 🤔
You can be entering into the field from any other discipline/career path. You could take a self-taught designer route or you could be enrolled in a full-time/part-time UX-immersive course. It doesn’t matter how you get here but once you have that UX Designer title on your LinkedIn profile, you will still question whether you really belong here. Understand, that it’s completely normal. Don’t stress it. Be patient and give yourself a few years to explore and learn as much as you can about the design.
Trust the process and give yourself time to walk on this path a bit longer every time you feel like you don’t belong here. THAT IS THE SECRET. 🏆
2. Be a part of the amazing design community 🙋🏻♀️
If it feels intimidating to start regularly attending meetups, networking events, and Q&A sessions, know that you are not alone. The good news is a lot of events that used to be in person are now online. This is very helpful for newcomers as it is a little easier attending them online than in person. This is a great place and opportunity to start mixing up with the community and start sharing your thoughts/design ideas. The UX community is very friendly and you will find a lot of support throughout your journey.
If someone was contemplating a career change, where would you advise they start? 👩🏻🏫
- Educate yourself 📖
The most important step is to understand the field of UX design and educate yourself about what the day-to-day tasks of a UX designer look like. And then make the informed decision. Take your time, don’t rush into it. Some of the resources that can help you are:
- Watch YouTube Videos about designers sharing their day as a designer.
- Reach out to the people in the industry.
- Go to networking events and speak to people about their jobs.
- Read about design as much as possible.
- Listen to podcasts.
2. Set realistic goals 🎯
When I started on this path, I had other responsibilities. I had a kid and a family to take care of. I was also volunteering as a front-end dev for a non-profit. I was committed and had a short window every day when I was able to focus on my course and make some progress each day. Most of you would probably have other responsibilities along with making this career shift. I would encourage you to ask the following questions and carve out a plan and stick to it.
- Are you going to be a self-taught UX designer? If yes, what are some of the resources which will help you get there? OR Are you going to enroll in a UX design Bootcamp?
- When do you want to graduate if enrolling in a Bootcamp?
- How many hours can you realistically set aside to study UX design every day?
- When do you intend to start applying for roles?
Once you have answers to these long-term goals, then you can break them down into smaller chunks with more manageable action points to then set the deadlines for yourself.
If I could do it, you can too! Please keep taking baby steps and you will succeed for sure!
Wish you all the best!