Why I Chose Passion Over Stability
Some Background on My Journey
Since completing General Assembly’s UX Design Immersive course in December, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the past six months of my life. It’s been a journey, to stay the least.
My intrigue for User Experience Design began nearly a year ago. I was working at a tech company and had found out about UX through a company presentation. Once I learned more what UX was through doing my own research, I was hooked — I wanted to learn more. I wanted to be involved, somehow.
I began shadowing a UX designer at my old company, learning the ropes and participating in some aspects of the process, mainly, user research.
I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people, whether that be professionally or personally, so participating in this research was really exciting for me. It’s when I began to question what I was doing in my current role — was I happy? Did this feel fulfilling to me?
Over the course of about four months, I was extremely torn over whether or not to leave my stable job with a solid income to go back to school to get an education in something I had not even known existed six months prior.
I asked the advice of many, and I mean, MANY people. Most told me to stay where I was at and to go to school part-time or take a quick course and read some books to ensure it was what I wanted to do. Very few advised me to just “go for it” and begin on my path to UX (But guess who ended up taking the leap anyway?!).
I began taking my research to the next level. Searching how to get jobs in UX and what it’s like for UX Designers starting out, looking at UX job postings, as well as researching their journeys into UX. Lucky for me, this field is relatively new, and up and coming, and attracts people from all different careers, so my path wouldn’t be anything out of the norm.
I ultimately decided to go with my new-found passion and leave my job. By far, the riskiest and hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. Although I’m one to go outside my comfort zone, this was to the extreme. At the time, I was working in suburban NJ, so not only would I be going back to school, but I would be making a move to New York City — lots of money and logistics would be involved to make this all work.
How did I know I was passionate about UX Design?
I have a communications and marketing background, so having people skills, time management and leadership skills are important. As mentioned, making connections with people is essential, especially in UX, so enjoying that aspect was one factor that led to my discovery.
Another was my love for problem solving. I didn’t so much experience problem solving in communications to the degree I have been able to in UX. UX is all about uncovering problems and solving them.
Creativity was another. My mom always told me that as a kid I would spend hours sitting at my art desk, endlessly creating my own designs. I wanted a career that involved creating creative solutions, and so this felt like the perfect fit.
And finally, uncovering insights. I love researching and learning. In UX, you’re constantly uncovering insights to inform your designs, and I appreciated how UX design is user centered and data driven.
In answering this question through my choice in UX training, I chose General Assembly’s program due to its quick ability to transform me into a UX Designer. Once I knew for sure I wanted to become a UX Designer, this program was one of the most notable through the research I did, as well as knowing people that have done different programs and workshops at GA. I knew I was passionate about this field and wanted to get out there as a UX Designer as soon as I could, which is why I chose this program over receiving a Masters — something that could take several years, either full-time or part-time.
Did I ever have an “AHA” moment that led me to my UX Journey?
The short answer is yes and no. I went through multiple moments where I thought, “oh, this field sounds interesting, I could see myself in it.” These moments included when I first saw a UX presentation, participated in my first usability testing with a user, amongst other things.
But, I don’t believe there is truly one “aha” moment that made me decide to apply to the UX Design Immersive program. In the end, I think if you choose to take a big leap out of your comfort zone like I did, you will always have your doubts, especially when you are leaving behind all you’ve ever known. But, as long as the pros outweigh the cons, I would think that making the leap would be worth it, especially if you are financially able to.
Thoughts After Completing the Course
I experienced doubts between the month I left my job and before the course began. Fortunately when I walked into General Assembly on day one, and into the classroom I would be spending the next ten weeks of my life at, I knew in my heart I had made the right decision. And this was even before we had heard our first lecture! If anything, that was the biggest aha moment I’ve had throughout my journey and it felt really, really good.
My experience at General Assembly far exceeded my expectations. I learned the entire UX process from three passionate instructors who are deeply routed in my success and have become mentors in my life. Never have I felt such investment from educators in my own future.
From doing research, I knew having a great experience in the UXDI course was heavily reliant on having a good cohort and instructors, and luckily, I did! My cohort was extremely motivated, diverse, passionate and empathetic. We bonded from day one and now coming out of the program, I am lucky to have 20+ great friends in life and in this field.
Additionally, I feel equipped and ready for the next round of my journey: being a full-time UX designer.
So why did I choose passion over stability? Most people wouldn’t, but I did, and it’s something I’m very proud of. As a career-oriented person who is set on finding my passion, when I found UX, I knew I had to go for it. It combines my love of people, research, creativity and technology. Most people I have spoken with since transitioning into UX have told me that they can tell I love what I do, and that feels good.
For those who are considering a path in UX or changing their career, I would be happy to connect.
Good luck in your journey!
Update: Since writing this article, I received an offer shortly after from a logistics company in Santa Monica, called CaseStack. I made the move from NJ to sunny California in the beginning of March and haven’t looked back since. Stay tuned for more articles on my UX journey!