A smiling woman UX designer with the word 'PIA' on the screen

How I Became A UX Designer – And Then A UX Design Mentor

Valentina Calandra

One of the unique features of the CareerFoundry experience is our mentor community - we work with a wide variety of mentors in iOS development, web development, UX design, and UI design, from all over the globe.

In order to increase the visibility of our wonderful mentors and give you the chance to get to know them, we created Mentor Spotlights. In today’s spotlight, we talk to Pia Klancar, a senior UX designer based in Munich. Her experience ranges from designing a game used by half a million people each month, to just recently joining a new startup. She explains why she loves UX and why mentoring keeps her inspired.

Stumbling upon UX design

Pia has been practising UX for many years, but it was only when she saw it on someone else’s LinkedIn page that she realized:

“I found that this is what I have been doing for quite some time, not even knowing what it’s called. Everything connected and I knew that this was the career for me.”


As someone who studied pedagogy, moving towards teaching UX design as well as practising it was a natural progression:

“I wanted to work in a profession where I would make impact and inspire others, somewhere where I could use all my knowledge, and somewhere where I would love to get up in the morning and go to work. The career I have now offers me that and more.”

Pia’s connection with CareerFoundry is a special one. She is a huge support to UX students and to CareerFoundry on the whole. Despite being almost 600 km away, she’s very much part of the CareerFoundry team:

“Like UX design, CareerFoundry found me. It was love at first sight and the perfect moment.”

A day in the life of a UX designer and mentor

So what is it like working as a UX designer and also mentoring future UXers? This is how a typical weekday looks for Pia:

“My day starts around 7:00 or 7:30 am, when I crawl out of bed and force myself to do yoga. Like for many of us, my life only starts once I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

At work, the day begins with a stand-up. The whole team shares their progress, and then the daily business begins. Most of my days are filled with screen design, supporting developers and QA, working with other designers, and working across departments. I finish between 5:00 and 6:00 pm, and that’s when my life as a mentor begins.”

Pia has experience as a UXer in different types of companies, and is due to start a new job soon:

“I’ve worked in a range of different work environments, and I’ve noticed that startups put more emphasis on the company culture and relationships, and that as a freelancer you are more on your own, but you have the biggest impact. The best experience I have had is with a startup company I’ll start working for in March. Their onboarding process is amazing and I feel like a part of the company before I have even started working there.”

Online education and mentoring

Having been a teacher in the past, Pia makes interesting comparisons between traditional education and online education:

“For me, online education is often there to do what normal education fails to do. It gives you the freedom to really focus on the things that are interesting to you. Students are typically older and study because they really want to. Most online programs don’t have the strict structure of examinations which can force us to learn only to pass exams. Online learning is often considered less stressful than these traditional methods, however, it does require students to be proactive, which in my opinion is not a bad thing at all.”

This belief is shared across many people here at CareerFoundry: our students should be motivated by meeting their personal goals, rather than just passing exams. In tech, often theoretical education is not as useful as practical education. We believe in jumping straight into learning the skills and tools that you’ll be using from day one at your new job.

When asked what she likes most about mentoring, Pia says:

“Knowing that I have impact. I have a framed quote above my computer: I want to inspire people. I want someone, someday to look at me and say, because of you I didn’t give up. I hung that quote up a year and a half ago, and it became a reality in December of 2016.”

Pia’s advice for aspiring UX designers is ‘never stop growing.’  She believes in growth in a holistic sense, in lifelong learning:

“Become the best in what you do and make sure that is something you absolutely love. If you find out one day that what you do, doesn’t make you want to jump out of bed to start working, find something else. Learn more. And then learn some more. Share the knowledge. Inspire others. Make them grow because of you.”

Finally, if you’re interested in reading more about UX, Pia has three UX resources that she uses regularly: Interaction Design Foundation, Lynda.com, and Pinterest (the first two to grow, the last one to find inspiration and to unwind after a long day). If you want to start learning some basic UX skills, check out our free, 7-day UX Design Short Course.

You can also check out Pia’s blog at uxdgirl.com.

What You Should Do Now

  1. If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if UX design is right for you - sign up here for our free 7-day UX short course.
  2. If you are interested in becoming a UX Designer check out our UX design course (you'll learn the essential skills employers need).
  3. If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can really get a new job in tech - connect with us here.

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Valentina Calandra

Valentina Calandra

Contributer to the CareerFoundry Blog