Alumni Interview with Denae Nelson

16 November 2021 6:00 pm Online Career Change , UI Design

Have you been thinking about retraining and changing careers into a different field? Want to hear from someone else how they did it?

Enter Denae Nelson, who was working as a freelance graphic designer for more than five years before she enrolled in the CareerFoundry UI Program. She’s since graduated, and landed a job as a junior UI designer at Chefman, a popular kitchen appliance company. All during the height of a global pandemic!

Denae was interviewed by her CareerFoundry career specialist, Erin. In this interview, Denae talks about her background in graphic design and illustration, and why she was drawn to the field of UI in the first place. She talks about her studies that led to her UI certification, and runs us through a typical day-in-the-life in her new role.

If you’re contemplating a career change, this conversation between Denae and Erin will no doubt inspire you to tackle whatever the job search process brings. And if you’d like to find out more, read our interview with Denae over on our blog: From Graphic Design to UI: How My Career Changed After I Took an Online Bootcamp.

The Top 3 Fears of Adult Learning—and How to Get Over Them

One of the biggest choices you could make in life is deciding to go back to study in order to retrain and change careers. While taking a course to upskill—or learn completely new skills!—could be the key to a new role in a brand new industry, it is, undoubtedly, daunting. 

While every individual’s situation is, well, individual, the roots of the fears of going into the world of adult learning are pretty common. Here, we’ll address the top three fears of adult learning and how best to overcome them.

Time management

Many people struggle to manage conflicting priorities: work, family, social life, and more. How could you fit studying into the mix, too? For some, the answer may simply be a matter of balancing these priorities where it’s possible—for example, trading in a night of Netflix for a workshop or tutorial. Some career-changing courses will indeed put you on a strict schedule—at least with classes—but there are other courses on the market that are self-paced, allowing you to study when it suits you.


Educational costs like tuition, books, and technology can add up quickly. However, with a little forethought, research, and savvy, it’s possible to bring those costs right down. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find upskilling courses or short courses for free, either as part of a larger, more intensive program, or as a standalone upskilling resource. For courses with tuition fees, look into the payment structures—you may be eligible for a scholarship, a loan, or the course provider may have an income share agreement available, which means you won’t start paying off your tuition until you’ve started a new job.


When it comes to adult learning, often the biggest hurdle is convincing yourself to make the change and enroll in a program. “Why would I do this?” “What if I’m not cut out for this?” 

After a period of maturing and experiencing everything that life throws at you, adult learners tend to be a little more set in their ways, which means that they’re also often reluctant to try new things. 

But while you might be gainfully employed—or otherwise in a position that you’re comfortable with right now—the fact that you’ve been thinking about adult learning is a sign that maybe there’s an underlying issue you’re not addressing

So what’s next? 

While the fears we’ve addressed are legitimate, you will be able to overcome them. Take the time to look at your current situation and what concessions you can make around it. As we’ve mentioned, a bit of research, forethought, and know-how will go a long way. 

When it comes to adult learning, traditional structures such as university or other college courses are a little out of the question for most, due to the cost and time constraints, as well as other barriers to entry that we haven’t covered in this article. Another option to consider is online bootcamps, which provide many adult learners with the flexibility that they require. Not sure what to study? Check out our guide to some of the top career paths in tech


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Featured presenters

Denae Nelson

Denae Nelson

UI Designer and CareerFoundry Graduate

Denae Nelson is a UI Designer by day and Encouragement Ninja by night. She uses her background in Graphic Design and Illustration to produce visual solutions desired for distinctive user interfaces. When she’s not staring at a screen, she enjoys practicing hand lettering techniques with markers and paper. At night, you can find her working on her nunchuck skills (for ninja training).

Erin Howard

Erin Howard

Career Specialist at CareerFoundry & Career Coach