After a well-established career as a graphic designer, Flora was in need of a fresh start. I caught up with her to find out how she made the switch, and why she cites trust as a key to her success…
As a student at the University of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungarian native Flora enjoyed a well-rounded multidisciplinary education. There, she was able to dip her toes into a range of disciplines, including cinema, photography, and visual communications. “What I was doing wasn’t actually that far from UX, but back then in 2005, UX was only just becoming a known field.”
During university, Flora started to explore graphic design, after learning the ropes from her then-boyfriend. Little did she know, this would become her career for the next 15 years of her life.
Flora’s fruitful graphic design career saw her relocate to several different countries, including Scotland and Oman, before landing a job in the cosmopolitan city of London. Here, in the UK’s capital, Flora came to a realization that would change the course of her life forever: she was no longer satisfied with her career path.
“The company I worked for in London was a cultural consultancy, and we were working on some amazing projects. My colleagues were researchers, content writers, and interpreters who were designing the experience of the museum visitors. I always wanted to be involved in the project side, but as an in-house graphic designer, I was too busy to branch out. After five years, I started to feel disconnected.”
Acknowledging that you’re no longer happy in your career is a feeling that so many of us can relate to. But while recognizing that you’re no longer enjoying what you do can be empowering, figuring out your next step can be a daunting task. Luckily, for Flora, the universe was on her side.
“A CareerFoundry advert popped up on Facebook,” Flora tells me. “I didn’t really know what UX design was at the time, but I decided to book a call with one of the career advisors so that I could find out more. After the call, I decided to do the short course. It was all a coincidence, to be honest!“
Coincidence or not, something had clicked. After enrolling in the full program, Flora knew instantly that she’d made the right decision. From sketching wireframes to user testing, it was the variety of skills and tasks that kept her on her toes—and motivated her to learn more.
After such a long and successful career, I’m curious to learn whether Flora felt that she could incorporate her graphic design skills into her new career path.
“After doing graphic design for so long, I was actually so much more interested in the other side of things: the research, the planning, and understanding the users. My graphic design skills did come handy when working on the visual design of my apps, but I was really excited to learn a different approach.”
The prospect of starting from scratch is a common setback for career-changers, so it’s refreshing to be reminded of just how exciting starting from scratch can be. As I learn more about Flora’s CareerFoundry experience, I’m keen to understand how she cultivated such a positive attitude to being an adult learner.
“I had to learn how to trust the course, and to take it step-by-step. Once I did, I really enjoyed the process: submitting tasks, getting feedback, and learning something new with every exercise. My project was shaping up so amazingly. I was in a complete state of flow.”
So far, I’m blown away by Flora’s story—but I soon learn that her success was not without a hearty amount of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice. For Flora, working a full-time job alongside her studies wasn’t an easy feat.
“I spent evenings, all my weekends, most of my holidays on the course. I even took days off from work just so that I could focus on finishing the course. It was a lot.”
I quiz Flora about her next steps after graduating and discover that she started preparing herself for life as a UX designer long before finishing the program. A few months after enrolling, she started frequenting networking events—though she admits she wasn’t always sure what people were talking about (we’ve all been there!). Despite being a UX-newbie, Flora feels strongly that networking events are the best way to immerse yourself in your new field. “Even now, when I go to networking events, I just feel that these are my kind of people. It’s a really safe feeling. It’s amazing.”
As talk turns to careers, Flora tells me just how impactful the job prep course was for her.
“Throughout the program, I changed. My personality changed. My way of thinking is different now—but none of that really becomes clear until you do the job preparation course, and learn how to properly present yourself and your work. It’s all thanks to my mentors Danielle and Pia, who were amazing!“
Coincidentally, Flora has networking events to thank for her first job in the field. Whilst attending a job fair in London, Flora made a beeline for employees of a startup that had caught her attention in the fair brochure. As the conversation flowed, she learned that they were hiring for a role—and, despite being under-qualified, they encouraged her to apply. She was invited for a telephone interview, but despite a great rapport with her interviewers, Flora didn’t get the job. “I was still new in the job searching process, and ultimately I wasn’t quite ready for the role.”
Being rejected for a job can be difficult to bounce back from, but Flora’s relationship with the company wasn’t over yet. Fast forward a few months, and after connecting to the same interviewers on LinkedIn, they posted a job that was suited to Flora’s skill level. Having already spoken to them previously, all it took was a quick message on LinkedIn for her to be invited in for two rounds of interviews. This time, she got the job!
“Both interviews went really well. In the one with the CEO, I felt like I was in a TV show! I felt really knowledgeable about UX, and CareerFoundry gave me such a strong foundation for that.”
Flora is now a Product Designer for EasyPeasy, a startup created around an educational app for parents. Talking candidly about starting her first UX design role, Flora admits that it was a learning curve at first. Between learning the ins and outs of the product and adjusting to a new environment, there was no shortage of things to get to grips with. Armed with her positive approach to learning new things, Flora kept impostor syndrome at bay by embracing the experience and soaking up everything she could. Listening to her speak passionately about her work, I can tell that she’s in her element.
“We just launched a new section I designed, and it’s so interesting to see how data and analytics supports our designs.”
Now, between prototyping, user testing, marketing, and liaising between teams, no two days are the same in Flora’s office. Flora loves that she’s working on something truly purposeful, and enhancing the lives of her users through design. She also mentions how comfortable she feels in her new role. “I found a team where my personality fits in, so I can be 100% who I am.”
When I ask Flora what advice she would give to those looking to make the switch into UX design, she cites that excitement should be the main driver. “You need to be excited. It’s a lot of work, especially if you do the course alongside working full time. It’s a huge commitment.” Flora goes on to tell me about the importance of trust, and I agree with her wholeheartedly. It’s well-known that learning to listen to others and placing your trust in those who have walked the path before you is a sure-fire way to get onto the right track.
Flora talks me through her plans for the future, which include progressing to a senior role, and leading workshops—though she notes she’s in absolutely no rush. “At the moment, I’m still finding my voice!“ she laughs.
As the interview wraps up, Flora tells me about the invaluable support she received from the CareerFoundry community. Changing careers can be a lonely endeavor, but between regular meetings with her mentor and tutor, and her CareerFoundry student WhatsApp group, Flora never felt that she was walking the path alone. It’s a comforting thought to end on, and one that reminds me of the value of asking for help when you need it.
We can’t wait to see what Flora does next!
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