Discovering a Passion in UX Design: A Journey of Career Change in my 30s

Jinhee Jung
4 min readFeb 7, 2023

“Why did you start to study UX design?”

This is a question I frequently encounter when introducing myself to new people. My previous career was as a marketing manager, but I decided to switch to UX design in my 30s. I’d like to share the story behind my career change.

My journey began with a big life change — getting married, quitting my job of five years, and moving to the United States with my husband, who had already secured a job in the US. All of this happened within a month. Upon arrival, I came to the US on H4 visa, in Korea commonly referred to as the “body visa,” as it only allows me to be in the country with condition that I’m not participate any profitable activities. I left my home country and started a new life in the new country, where I had no family and friends.

Initially, I enjoyed staying at home, cooking, and traveling for a year, but I began to feel unfulfilled and empty. I realized that I had always felt safe, happy, and relieved when I was working, interacting with people, and making something meaningful.

Back in my home country of Korea, changing careers in your 30s is not a common or easy thing to do, as age is highly valued in the job market. However, when I arrived in the United States, I realize a different point of view on career transitions. Here, I found that skill and experience are valued more than age or background, and this realization gave me a sense of liberation and empowerment. The shift from feeling like career transition is “not possible” to “possible” was a meaningful one for me. It opened up new doors and possibilities that I never thought were available to me. I felt very excited about starting a new chapter in my life.

Discovering a Passion for UX Design

One day, I stumbled upon a blog about the daily life of a UX designer. The more I researched user experience design, the more enthusiastic I became about it. When I worked in a marketing team, I have always been interested in design, taking design classes and workshops on the side. I even completed a short UX design course. With the knowledge I learned from the course, I started a project to redesign an e-newsletter in my previous company. As a result, I observed a positive impact on the opening rate, and the number of clicks doubled. This experience showed me the power of UX design in creating positive outcomes through user-centered design methods, and I was hooked.

My journey to becoming a UX designer continued with a boot camp class I took to prepare my portfolio for graduate school applications. During this class, I was fascinated by the process of conducting user testing and creating wireframes and prototypes. I felt a strong connection to the field. I feel I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I had lived without knowing and studying UX design! Despite my doubts and fears while preparing to apply to graduate school, I was finally accepted into the highly competitive Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts.

If I did not move to the United States, I might have continued my career as a marketing manager, never realizing my passion for UX design. But, my time in the US opened up new opportunities for me, and I am grateful for the chance to explore a new career path. As a graduate student, I have yet to start my career as a UX designer, but I am eager to put my skills and knowledge into practical use cases and have a positive impact on the industry.

In conclusion, my journey to become a UX designer resulted from a combination of circumstances, including my move to the United States, the culture of skill-based hiring, and my personal interests and experiences.

It was not an easy decision for me to pursue to a new career in my 30s, but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am confident that I will grow and learn fast as a UX designer and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my life. If there is anyone like me in the past who feels confused about their identity, I hope my story inspires them and helps to find a way.