Proud to be Self Taught: How I Pivoted to UX

This is the story of how I redirected my career path. Having lived through it, I can say this (often uncomfortable) series of transitions has led me to the most gratifying stage of my professional life. My hope is to encourage others not to settle for the wrong fit, but to find the courage to carve out your own personal path.

When I realized I wasn’t in the correct place in my career.

I climbed up the “but what exactly am I doing with my life” mountain and it was hard. I didn’t always know which way I was headed, but I picked up some very different and very useful experiences along the way. They’ve all been essential in directing my journey — you can quiz me all the way back to my high school job at the ice cream shop.

What it was like being purposefully unemployed.

Quitting meant I became unemployed and the stigma of being unemployed was so immediately icky feeling. I had willingly left two opportunities in the startup world to dedicate 100% of my time to sharpen up my knowledge of UX, refine my process, update my portfolio, and figure out how I would enter back into the world rebranded as a “UX designer”.

The most influential nuggets that got me through.

When I was insecure about a decision I had made or I was self conscious about my professional life in general, I went back to these main themes.

Entering back into professional society.

It was when I got my first freelance gig at the beginning of this year that I felt like I’d reached the top of that mountain I’d been climbing. High above where I had started, I could confidently contextualize and validate my journey to this point. And I could see a more straightforward and strategic path ahead in my continuation as a UX professional.

Enjoying the process.

It’s nice to be able to reflect on how I am snowballing my knowledge into bigger and bigger experiences that are making me a better designer and leader. My process serves as motivation during the day-to-day challenges.