Career Change From Sales: How Jeremy Transitioned to UX Design

Jeremy had heard of UX, but didn’t think he had the necessary skills to pursue it as a career. How wrong he was! Luckily, a chance encounter broadened his horizons and set him on a brand new path. Here’s how made a career change from sales to UX design.

by Emily Stevens on 22 March 2023

Jeremy Watssman made a career change from sales and now works in UX design

Jeremy’s story is one that many of us can relate to. Working in sales at an EdTech startup, he was painfully aware that, career-wise, he was in the wrong place. He knew he needed a more fulfilling role—one that played to his strengths—but had no idea what that might be.

He wondered just how do you make a career change from sales? And what jobs after sales can you do if you decide it’s time for a change? 

Interestingly, Jeremy had heard of UX design, but assumed he didn’t have the necessary skills to pursue it as a career. Fortunately, he met someone who was able to convince him otherwise, and so began his journey to job satisfaction:

“I was working in sales for an educational technology startup, selling math software to US schools and districts. I knew sales wasn’t right for me, and I was looking for a more fulfilling job.

I figured if I was going to be working all day, I’d rather be working to my strengths than my weaknesses. I was generally aware of UX, but I always assumed I couldn’t do it because I hadn’t studied coding in college.”

A chance encounter with an interaction designer helped to banish this misconception once and for all. Jeremy realized that, actually, there was nothing to stop him pursuing a career in UX design. In fact, his experience in sales had given him an extremely valuable gift: the ability to communicate and empathize with the customer.

He began to realize there are plenty of transferable skills from sales you can leverage for a career in tech. Spurred on by this revelation, he wasted no time getting stuck into the topic. He started out with plenty of self-study, reading textbooks, and learning as much as he could.

A quote from Jeremy who made a career change from sales to UX design

The more knowledge he gathered, the more his passion for UX grew. By now, he was sure he wanted to become a UX designer. Ready to commit to a new career path, he went in search of a course that would get him job-ready:

“I’d engaged in a lot of self-directed learning for about a year prior to signing up to the course. I’d learned a lot—particularly from textbooks—and the more I learned about UX, the more excited I got.

However, I never felt close to being able to apply for a job. I knew I needed a learning plan, something substantial and rigorous, to be sure that I had all the basics down. So I started looking for courses I could take.”

For Jeremy, the CareerFoundry UX Design Program offered just the right mix of theory, practical work, and job preparation. When asked what he enjoyed most about the experience, he was full of praise for both the course content and his expert mentor:

“By far my favorite experiences were the four hour-long calls I had with my mentor. They were always so encouraging and made me feel much better about the scary career transition that was ahead of me.”

Indeed, Jeremy’s experience just goes to show what a difference the right learning environment can make. In addition to absorbing loads of new information, there’s also the daunting prospect of diving head-first into the unknown. It’s a lot to deal with in one gobut often, all it takes to assuage these fears is a chat with a mentor. Knowing there’s a friendly ear just a phone call away can mean the difference between giving up and pushing forwards.

Talking about the course content itself, Jeremy was especially pleased with the level of detail on offer:

A quote from Jeremy who made a career change from sales to UX design

That served me very well in future projects, because no matter what I found myself doing, I always had relevant experience to draw from.”

Completing the course, Jeremy threw himself wholeheartedly into his job search. He polished up his portfolio site and frequently attended local UX meetups. Funnily enough, it was another chance encounter that opened up the next chapter in his story:

“At one of those UX meetups, I met someone who worked at a company which was doing exciting things. I asked him if he’d be willing to review my portfolio. He forwarded it on to his boss, who liked it, and that’s how I landed my first job.”

Jeremy landed his first job in the field as a product designer at leading insurance firm AIG, and he credited the hands-on nature of the course for giving him the skills that employers are looking for.

As for making a career change from sales, there’s not a hint of regret in sight. We asked him how it felt to start his first job in tech, and his response could not have been more positive:

“Honestly? After spending more than a year working on design in my spare time, as an out-of-hours hobby, I couldn’t believe I was actually being paid to do this stuff. I’ve never had a job that actually felt suited to my personality before. It just feels like this great tension has been released, like a perpetually wrong note finally resolving to a perfect cadence.”

Hearing Jeremy’s story, it’s hard not to feel the buzz that comes with an exciting new career change. But what is it exactly that makes it so worthwhile? For Jeremy, it’s a combination of things: the interesting and challenging tasks, a better work/life balance, and better pay.

For anyone else wishing they could make a career switch too, Jeremy has some sage advice:

“Well, “just do it”, of course. But seriously, no matter how much you prepare, no matter how many courses you take, eventually making a career switch will necessitate a leap of faith. I quit my full-time job to focus 100% on the job search, and that was scary, but ultimately it’s what allowed me to be successful.

If you’re like me and you’ve lived a risk-averse life, the career change will be one of the scariest things you’ve done. But that’s why it’s worthwhile, and that’s what will separate you from the million other people who wish they had the courage to do what you are about to do.”

Changing careers is not for the fainthearted. It takes time, commitment, and a lot of perseverance. However, as each of our success stories shows, anyone can do it. If you too are considering a career in UX design, check out our 7-step guide to getting started. And, as Jeremy would say: just do it!

Update: Since originally talking to Jeremy for this article, he’s gained plenty of further experience in UX and product design. He’s now working as an experience architect at Sunbelt Rentals Inc. Congrats, Jeremy! We wish him all the best in his growing design career! 

If you’re looking for more inspiration from further CareerFoundry graduates who have made a career change from sales, check out these success stories:

And if you’re wondering how you can leverage your transferable skills from sales in a new role, check out this video full of advice from CareerFoundry alumni discussing the importance of soft skills when making a career change:

Sign up for a free short course if you’d like a step-by-step intro to one of the following fields: UX design, UI design, data analytics, web development, digital marketing, and product management. You can also book a free call with an expert program advisor at CareerFoundry to find out if a career change into tech is right for you—they’ll help you figure out your next steps.

by Emily Stevens on 22 March 2023

About the author

Emily Stevens

Emily is a professional tech writer and content strategist. She spent over a decade in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking. In addition to writing for The CareerFoundry Blog, Emily has been a regular contributor to several industry-leading design publications and wrote a chapter for The UX Careers Handbook. She also has an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster.