Weight Loss & Switching Careers
How my 120+ pound weight loss lead me to pursue a career in User Experience Design and Research.
When it all started
In April 2015, after a lifetime of failed attempts, I began my weight loss journey. At the time, I didn’t know if I would be successful, but I did know I would give it my everything.
Over 2 years later, in addition to losing 120+ pounds, I’ve accomplished the following goals:
- Complete a half marathon. (Disney Princess — I dressed up as Mulan!)
- Hiking is now a passionate hobby of mine.
- Move across country from North Carolina to Seattle, WA
- Go back to school for User Experience Design
- Go on my first (of many!) backpacking trips.
Wait. Those aren’t all health and fitness goals…
Right. There’s something you gain when you lose weight: Confidence.
Back to before it all started
I graduated college in 2013 with a BA in Graphic Design and had also completed a relevant internship. I had the education and experience to start my design career.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t have the confidence to put myself out there to network, continue learning, or anything to achieve my career goals.
I had worked in retail during college. Once I graduated, my company gave the opportunity to pursue a retail management career. It was not only a safe career move but it paid more so that’s what I did.
Time to reevaluate my career
Jump forward to January 2016, almost a year into my weight loss journey, and I’m down 70 pounds. I’m crossing off every health and fitness goal I set for myself. I’ve gained confidence and know that from my weight loss experience that I can achieve anything if I put it the work.
I start looking at my career. I enjoyed my company and the pay was good. I could have a very successful career in retail management.
However, the passion and curiosity that lead to pursue a degree in Graphic Design was always there and had longed to go back. So I did. :)
A fresh start
In June 2016, I moved cross country from North Carolina to Seattle, WA. Seattle is everything is everything and more than I could of hoped and dreamed when I made that scary leap to move out here. A tech city with plenty of career opportunities that can support my outdoor hobbies.
After moving to Seattle, I began looking at design schools and programs in the area. I kept seeing user experience and user centered design everywhere. What the hell is that? I took a risk and enrolled in a User Experience Design Certificate program at The School of Visual Concepts.
It was love at first contextual interview! I nerded out over all the data I was collecting and how I could use that user data to inform how I design. I now have a career goal: Become a UX Designer.
What I’m doing to become a UX Designer
In 10 weeks, I’ll finish my certificate program. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I’ve learned essential UX thinking and methods during my program including, but certainly not limited to:
- Contextual Interviewing
- Prototyping (paper sketching to working prototypes in UXPin)
- Usability Testing
- Information Architecture
Now I need to put it all together into a portfolio and find a UX position. I’ve developed a plan to get there.
- Attending networking events at least 2x a month.
- Code my own portfolio website. (This is really just for my own fun because I like coding.)
- Fill that portfolio website with case studies of my portfolio projects
- Blog about what I’m learning here on Medium
- Join the UX conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn
- Get feedback from industry professionals in the area
At a glance, my plan looks like a lot of work and can be a little overwhelming. However, I am putting my everything into this career change just like I did with weight loss. I know I can achieve my goal.
Thanks to my weight loss journey, I have the confidence to pursue my career goal of being a UX Designer. However, I need your feedback! I want to be a sponge of any suggestions, comments, or other feedback you can give me and learn from it.
Let’s get in touch!
Also, if you’re interested in my weight loss journey, you can follow me on Instagram!
I was inspired by many people online when I started my journey so I hope I can do the same for anyone reading this post that is struggling to reach their goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m more than happy to help.