Why I Switched My Career Path and Why I’ll Do It Again

Almost 7 years ago I started my career as a UX designer at SAP. Today, I work as a videographer and motion designer. But before I even got there, I had a history of switching my bio from “web designer” to “front-end developer”, “creative director” and more...

Let me tell you about my journey switching roles, and why there is nothing wrong with switching career paths to become successful.

First – let’s define being “successful”

Many people think that being successful means climbing the career ladder. But I like to think of “success” in a different way.

Let’s imagine that if climbing the career ladder “vertically” means getting a higher role and going up in the hierarchy, there is an alternative – a horizontal development, where you switch career paths, combining and collecting various skills by exploring different roles, and basically having lots of fun, while still growing as an expert.

Does that make you less “expert” or less experienced than someone who has been climbing one role for years?

Having a variety of skills makes you more flexible and familiar with various situations that arise in everyday work. It also helps you grow your network, and become self-aware of the entirety of your business niche.

My Journey

Path 1. Starting as a web designer

I started designing websites when I was 16 years old back in 2008. At that time everything was done in Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver.

My first “professional” website was that of my parent’s company (annivideo.com – it still exists, a bit updated). I remember even buying my first domain back in 2007 – it felt awesome.

Shortly after, when my entrepreneurial parents realized I enjoyed doing this, they offered that I design websites for their friends – other business owners in the area. In total maybe I designed around 10 or 15 websites, of course not all paid, but it was an excellent practice.

Path 2. The urge to learn to code

With the design, came coding and development. As you can imagine, if you hand the client a .PSD file, there is no chance that they turn it into a working website. So, I had to learn HTML/CSS and a bit of PHP.

By the age of 18, I already had some international clients from the US, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and Bulgaria, who not only wanted the design, but also the coded website.

All great! I guess that makes me a web developer as well?

However… the term “web” was something that I couldn’t stick to. It is very limiting, and at that time mobile was rising, and everyone started using apps.

At that time I was working on a project for a real-estate search engine (pretty much like Zillow or Trulia). So I had to design a lot of UIs (usable interfaces), and not only static web pages. UX was super important.

I guess that makes me a UI/UX designer?

Path 3. Being a Freelance UI/UX Designer

I started designing more and more web and mobile apps, rolling on Dribbble and Behance, and trying to win some contests on 99Designs.

Soon after, I realized that freelancing is not my thing. I didn’t like it that much – being alone, no team, projects come and go, there is no consistency, and dealing with payments and business management was distracting me from my real goal – creating and designing.

In 2015 I’ve decided to move to 🇩🇪 Germany. I’ve found a job as an intern at a small startup. Shortly after, I got introduced to SAP and they offered me a job as a Junior UX Designer.

So I joined SAP.

Path 4. Junior UX Designer

Being a UX designer for a large enterprise software company is not fancy at all in the beginning, but hear me out – it is game-changing, and I will tell you why. At first, you do basic stuff – just like you imagine – designing buttons, tables, charts, user flows, making personas, research, designing guidelines and specifications…

Working in a software giant like SAP allowed me to do more of what I wanted. The network and connections that you build along the way unlocked a lot of opportunities. And if you show passion and responsibility – it all pays off.

After getting more and more into the UX space within SAP, I realized that there are way too many good designers already doing that, and I thought I could be useful somewhere else – animating the UIs, something which was quite new at that time.

Path 5. UI Motion Designer

Being connected with the UX teams within SAP allowed me to pitch my idea for animated UIs. We created a small team dedicated to building what was called the SAP Fiori Motion Design language. It was all great – people loved the concept and everything.

We won some hearts. 💛

👎 The downside? The development was just not ready for it. They had far too many other problems, and developing the animations was something impossible at that time. I’m talking 2016–2017 – enterprise (not consumer) software.

So what do you do when things slow down? Switch again. I started making product videos for our events and showrooms.

Path 6. How I started doing product videos

A polished, well-timed .mp4 that our stakeholders and product managers can play alongside their presentations to the board, to the customers, as well as at the booth.

That was it. And it was necessary.

We could create a short demo or explainer video that presents a concept and shows how it works, or an agency-level product commercial that looked like one of those Apple commercials.

New design concepts were coming one after another, and the development was taking way too long for obvious reasons, so we animated everything. Sort of “faked” it, but let’s put it in a nice way – we visualized it.

Path 7. Filmmaker and content creator

After doing animated videos for a few years, I saw that there is a bigger opportunity – to capture the emotions, reactions and experiences of our customers. I could say that our company is healthy because we started to get all these success stories for our products.

By that time I already had experience in filming and video editing, so we started making customer success stories – traveling to the customer, capturing interviews, and taking epic b-rolls.

Part of switching roles is never to get bored. Going to a customer and experiencing the visit is way different and more engaging than staying in the office all day. That’s why I liked this change. Film people – get their reaction, learn to direct 🎬 and communicate with interviewees.

Why it’s healthy to switch roles?

1) Staying relevant

In order to stay relevant, you have to catch some trends and be creative and useful for your company. It is like surfing – you need to catch the 🌊 waves. If you stay too much in “one place” there is a higher chance that you lose passion and momentum, which will bring you down.

2) Earning the know-how

Exploring more paths and becoming an expert in different areas gives you a better perspective of how things work. You become more experienced not in just one field, but in multiple. Common sense for business is developed, which makes you a stronger team player as well.

3) Broadening your network

Remember when I said that working in a large company is game-changing? During my career, I have been working around the same network of people, slowly expanding my connections. I’m a proud member of SAP Design for more than 6 years now. The people here trust you and allow you to do your best, whether it is making videos, designing, coding, photography.

Overall, SAP is very famous for career switching, and they even promote it with fellowships and other programs.

Where to start?

If you look closely at my transitions, they are very smooth. One leads to another. And there is something that glues it all together — my passion for design.

Every time I switched and focused my attention elsewhere, I had two things in mind:

  1. Is it really my passion? Is that something that I’d love to explore? If yes, I’d invest heavily in my spare time into convincing others that we (or I) should be given the opportunity to just shoot.
  2. Does it benefit the company? I trust my own judgment when it comes to the value that my work brings to others. I hate doing things for “nothing”. And if I see an opportunity to do something that benefits my team, our products, our company – I’d just pursue it.

My advice…

If I could give advice for developing your career and following the steps that I followed, it is this:

  1. Do what you’re hired to do first. Then, do the side project that you think will benefit the company. If you’re good at it, your manager will soon make it a priority.
  2. Switch your role, but keep your niche and connections. You can easily be a UI designer and switch to being a user researcher. You can easily be a developer and switch to product management.
  3. Learn as you go and don’t make rash decisions. Sometimes a new path might not be what you really want. Explore it first. Take a fellowship. See if it fits to your expectations and if you could do this full-time.

What’s next for me?

I love exploring new opportunities and learning new things. At this point, I realize that nothing can stop me from switching roles. I am happy where I am, but who knows, maybe I go back to UX design, or even explore Web3 further… or maybe I pursue my dream job and become a videographer for an F1 team? 🏎 🤔

Thanks for reading! ✌️ Let me know your thoughts in the comments 💬.

--

--

--

🎬 Director, videographer, editor of things.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

51–261|Project 2 Thumbnail images that convey meanings

CERTIFICADO DE EFICIENCIA ENERGETICA

“Certificado Eficiencia Energética”: Why is it important?

An Experiment with User Story Mapping

What are the Services that You Can Expect from Web App Development Company

The difference between User Engagement and User Experience

Project 5: Visual Book

The War Against Garage Doors

The iMessage Corner of Doom

Portion of Touchgram screen with Close button and Feedback buttons circled for emphasis.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Drago @ The Video Camp

Drago @ The Video Camp

🎬 Director, videographer, editor of things.

More from Medium

10 Rules by the Numbers to Gain Control of Your Life

This Global Transition Might Change The Future Of Businesses, Forever!

Photo by Smartworks Coworking on Unsplash

How to Stop Being a Quitter

7 Microhabits I Learned Building A $9,000/Month Side Business

A stack of 4 self-help books.