Why I left my law career and became UX Designer
Or how I went from the cap and gown to the canvas, with no scales
The 23rd of April of 2018 was one of the most important days of my life. It was Monday, St Jordi’s day in Cataluña — the day I decided to take control of my life. That Monday I decided to leave a successful career in law and risk it all for user experience or UX.
I had never thought of myself as an artistic person, although I have always had a creative side that I never learned how to channel, neither through writing nor music. I studied law — not because I had a professional vocation but because of many people’s reason: a series of random events that lead you to end up in a four years’ degree without really knowing why and with the only motivation to finish it as soon as possible to start earning money without any passion about your work.
After four years as a lawyer, I had a very good job in an office with very solid prospects for the future, both professional and financial, and with some bosses and colleagues who appreciated me and treated me great. I Managed my clients directly and coordinated the projects I had assigned with different teams.
But do you know what I did not have?
My work did not fulfill me and as time went on it became more and more difficult for me to carry on… I knew I had to change something. I knew something wasn’t working. I complained and complained, but every Monday I woke up at the same time, said good morning with the same tone of voice and put in the password for my computer thinking about how stupid I was for not doing anything to change the direction of my career and my life.
So what did I do?
For many years I had heard of the term UX, and although it seemed like a very interesting discipline (I’d always liked psychology a lot), for me it was impossible to think about a career change. That was until my good friend Marco Martin, career psychologist and UX Researcher, told me about “bootcamps” and more specifically, Ironhack.
In standard cliché fashion “it sounded too good to be true”, but what started as a joke ended up becoming a very serious idea as my friend continued to tell me more about it.
How much life is your salary costing you?
That phrase was the one that changed everything. There I began to investigate more thoroughly, asking former students and to start training by doing online UX courses. Now I realized that that was what I wanted to do, so on April 23, 2018, I requested to enter the UX / UI full-time bootcamp that began on August 20 in Ironhack.
I instantly felt myself getting lighter as if I had started to release a life long dead weight that had long kept me stuck to the ground. Two weeks later I was doing a personal interview at Ironhack Headquarters and on May 10th my unique “Hogwarts letter” arrived at the email communicating my admission to Ironhack. This was the very same day I announced to my bosses that I was leaving my job.
He entered a UX Bootcamp without having any idea of anything, what happened next will surprise you …
Yesterday I finished the two month Ironhack bootcamp and they have been two of the most intense months of my life! I have had the great luck of finding 24 great classmates (among them, my brother Pablo Sáiz) and due to their high technical abilities, and spectacular attitude the whole team was kept motivated and focused throughout the whole journey.
I have gone from next to 0 ability to now developing a fully digital product, LifeBrary, which I will present at the HackShow this coming Friday, and of which I will talk a bit about in depth in a following post. I loved the small tests and jobs that our teachers sent us every day. I have done guerrilla surveys to people on the street when up to now I was dying of shame at the thought of asking for direction. I keep thinking of solutions to problems that I see on a daily basis and I feel more creative than ever.
I’m ready to take on the world and this has only been my first step.
If by some chance you are considering taking the step and launching your own carrier change, either towards the digital world or towards another sector, I encourage you to do so. Life is too short to live in a constant “what if …?”
Update: March 2019
I remember the moment I originally posted this article. It was October, I had just finished the bootcamp and I was preparing myself to present LifeBrary in the Hackshow, when the mighty Alvaro3rd, brand new General Manager of Ironhack Lisbon, wrote me on Slack:
Hey Guille, we want you to be our Teacher Assistant in the new campus that we are launching in Lisbon.
At that moment I was both really excited and scared as hell. My first idea was to look for a job as UX designer in a consultancy company or in a startup. Was I really capable of teaching something that I just learned in 9 weeks? And in a campus that was going to start from scratch?
However, teaching has been always one of my passions, and… you know what? I’ve loved Lisbon since the very first day I visited it.
So the answer could only be a big big YES.
So many things have happened after that. In December I visited the team of Ironhack Amsterdam to receive four days training on how to run workshops (thanks Marjon and Marcos, you rock!). Then I went to Lisbon to teach my first workshop (in front of 35 people!!!) and find a place to stay.
I definitely moved to Lisbon in January. Since then, I have been running workshops on a weekly basis with very positive feedbacks, learning new things every day and trying to inspire people to change their career to a new field that drives them with passion.
And most importantly, I am part of an 8 people team fully committed and capable of launching from scratch a campus in just four months, and I cannot be more proud of it.
I finished the original version of this article saying: “I’m ready to take on the world and this has only been my first step”. This Portuguese second step couldn’t have started better.
This article was originally published in Spanish here.