Graphic Design to UI: Here’s Why (and How) I Forged a New Career from Scratch

Meet Tasha Kim: A former graphic designer turned UI design professional. Within two weeks of completing the UI Design Program, Tasha accepted a job offer. She’s now working as a UI designer at Pixo, a digital consultancy based in Urbana, Illinois. Here’s how she made it happen.

by Emily Stevens on 20 April 2021

A quote from CareerFoundry graduate Tasha Kim: I was worried that being in my upper 40s, having gaps in my resumé, limited UI work experience, and specifically wanting a UI designer position would be challenging. But none of those obstacles stopped me—here I am, working in my first UI role.

It’s always exciting to see where our grads land after the program, and I was fortunate enough to catch up with Tasha just weeks into her new job. In this interview, Tasha shares the motivation behind her career change—and speaks candidly about the highs and lows of her experience with the CareerFoundry UI Design Program. She also talks through the interview process that led to her first job in UI, and leaves us with some sound words of advice for other aspiring designers and career changers. So, without further ado, over to Tasha…

Hi Tasha. Could you tell me a bit about yourself?

I have an extensive background in graphic design. I started my journey working at small advertising agencies and design firms. I eventually landed a job at a global, corporate company working within Nokia’s in-house design group for eight years. Then life happened. Significant changes took place where I ended up doing occasional freelance, contract work, and non-design-related jobs. This went on for 13 years.

What were you doing before you took the UI Design Program?

Some years ago, my journey hit an unfortunate fork in the road. I had to take the path that I didn’t exactly want to take. However, years later, I was able to jump back onto the path, but I was lost. I believed there was light at the end of the tunnel. However, I knew it would take some time to get there.

What made you decide to change careers?

I wanted to do more than going back to being a graphic designer. I felt that I was out of the design loop for so long. I was unsure how to get back into it and where within design I wanted to be. An old school friend recommended taking a course in UX since learning to understand and design for the user would be valuable in all aspects of design.

What led you to study UI with CareerFoundry?

Well before the pandemic took place, I took a UX bootcamp elsewhere and discovered the excitement I felt when working on the optional UI portion in the mini-course. I then independently worked on my website, gearing it towards a user interface portfolio; however, I heavily struggled. Time was ticking away, and I knew I needed more education to build a proper portfolio and build up my confidence.

How was your experience with the UI Design Program? What were the highlights and challenges?

I absolutely loved the UI Immersion course! It wasn’t perfect, but overall it was a valuable experience and worth every penny. The main challenges were staying committed throughout the course and wishing for more consistency on how mentors and tutors provide their feedback. The highlights I experienced were from the guidance I received from the final three mentors that supported me to the end of the program. They believed in me and were very encouraging. Here’s a screengrab of me sharing my success with the CareerFoundry Slack community:

A message that CareerFoundry graduate Tasha Kim sent to the community on Slack, celebrating her success in landing a job

Those are the kinds of messages we love to see on Slack! You graduated from the CareerFoundry program in March and started your first UI design job in April. Can you tell me about your new role? What was the interview process like?

I’m now working remotely as a UI designer at Pixo, a digital consultancy based in Urbana, Illinois. When I applied for the job, I was (1) given prescreen questions, (2) invited to a Zoom call with lead designers within the company, (3) assigned a take-home exercise, (4) presented my exercise to their design team, (5) interviewed with members from different departments, and (6) lastly, met with both of the owners.

They requested 2-3 recent job references. I ended up providing five, and all were contacted and responded quickly. I was offered the position the next day!

That moved pretty quickly! How did it feel to land your first role as a UI designer?

I was ecstatic! I was worried that being in my upper 40s, having gaps in my resumé, limited UI work experience, and specifically wanting a UI designer position would have been challenging. But none of those obstacles stopped me—here I am, working in my first UI role! I didn’t land the highest-paying job, but they are fair in pay. Most importantly, finding a job with a company that genuinely believes and exercises its core values outweighs the salary by far! I sincerely feel like I found a gem!

Brilliant. So what does your job entail? What does a typical day look like?

Currently, I’m still in the onboarding stage. My company strives to have close communication, to be transparent with one another, collaborate within multidisciplinary teams, and sincerely embrace the company’s core values. I am gradually being introduced to everyone at Pixo, getting to know my team and clients. They are making efforts to make the process as painless as possible. Great work culture!!! As I settle into the role, I’ll be working on tasks such as mobile apps, design audits, creating design systems, and more.

What are you enjoying most about your new career so far?

Working with good people and doing what I love to do (and being paid for it).

What has changed for you since you took the program and started your new career?

A missing part of me has been filled. I feel whole again.

So glad to hear that! What advice would you give to anyone reading this who might be considering a career change or thinking about taking the UI Design Program?

If you don’t have any type of design background, the UI Immersion course will be challenging. Well-done design may look effortless at times, but it is not easy to do. Creating good design takes patience, practice, and a trained eye that comes with time. The Immersion programs require commitment. These aren’t courses one should take to simply see if they’ll like it or not. Do your research beforehand to figure out if this is something you genuinely want and are capable of doing. If you take the Intro-Immersion-Specialization courses, I highly recommend beginning the Job Prep when available. Read ahead in the Job Prep tasks and align the resumé task with the resumé task during the Immersion course. Doing the resumé and portfolio tasks simultaneously worked dearly in my favor.

Do your best at each task. Treat each task as if you’re getting it ready for your portfolio. Avoid thinking you’ll change it later. Aim to finish your portfolio website by the end of your UI Immersion course! Fortunately, the UI Immersion has you creating enough pieces for a complete portfolio.

Great advice. Before you go, where do you see yourself five years from now?

I’ve always been a person to commit to staying if I’m in a creative and positive workplace. I prefer to grow versus hopping around to different companies. I look forward to becoming a lead, expanding my responsibilities, and supporting my company to succeed.

Thanks, Tasha, and all the best in your new role!

Are you thinking about a career in UI design? Check out this guide to becoming a UI designer in 2022, and try your hand at some UI fundamentals with this practical, free, introductory short course.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out these success stories from CareerFoundry graduates who made exciting career changes to UX/UI design:

by Emily Stevens on 20 April 2021

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.