From Graphic Design To UI Design: My Career Change Journey

Last year, Martha’s graphic job was being eliminated—leading her to a new career path in UI design. In this interview, Martha talks to us about job hunting during Covid-19, and switching careers later in life.

by Jaye Hannah on 27 May 2020

ui martha miller

Hi Martha! Thank you for joining us. Can you start off by talking us through what your educational and professional background was prior to doing the CareerFoundry UI Design Program?

Before CareerFoundry, I was a graphic designer. My degree was in communication design, and I then worked for a newspaper creating graphics for the editorial department for many years. Last year, my job was being eliminated—so I ended up taking a buyout.

After little success looking for new roles as a graphic designer, I started to consider a new career path. I’d always wanted to get into digital design, and even took a few short courses here and there—but now I had the time to devote to a more in-depth course. I started doing some research, and CareerFoundry came up. I discovered the UI Design Program and decided to dive straight in.

So what was it about UI design that really drew you in?

When I was looking for jobs, I came across loads of UX and UI design job descriptions. While I initially didn’t quite understand the difference between the two, I felt like I was more geared towards the visual design side of things—so UI design felt like a great fit. As a former graphic designer, I felt like I already had the visual design skills and the thought processes that would translate really well into this new career.

How did you find the program? Did you fall into a good rhythm?

I treated it like a full-time job and approached each course exercise like a regular workday. My goal was to get through it as quickly as possible so that I could get out there and start job hunting in my new career.

When I was partway through the course, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a lot to deal with on top of my studies. Despite my diagnosis, I didn’t let it hold me back. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Today I’m healthy and cancer-free, but it was a challenging year. The course took me out of my comfort zone; I had a real shift in mindset when it comes to designing for the user. In a sense, I was designing for the users in the newspaper, but not to the same extent with research and testing. I employ everything that I learned in my job today.

Wow, that’s certainly a lot to juggle. Did you feel the support of the CareerFoundry community and student team?

I definitely felt supported by my tutor and mentor. I could never have done something like this on my own—without that structure, I would’ve been lost. Everything was broken down into manageable steps, and it was a great way to learn. The slack community was also fantastic, and I’m still on slack even now. People were so encouraging! I loved the diversity of the student body. It was great to connect with people from all over the world, and hear such a wide variety of experiences.

How did you find the Job Prep Course?

I found the Job Prep Course so useful. It really encouraged me to be prepared for everything. I found my career advisor Andrea to be so supportive—just knowing that she was there to help me navigate any speed bump I encountered was so helpful.

Awesome! So what were the next steps after finishing the course?

I had a few interviews with recruiters, but I found out about a job from another CareerFoundry student. After interviewing with the company, I got the job offer—but it was in another state, and I didn’t feel quite ready to relocate. Despite not taking the job, I was so glad to know that I really did have the skills and the knowledge to get me hired straight away. So that was a positive takeaway.

Following this, I applied for a job as a UI design intern at a health marketing agency and got offered the role. It was only two days a week, with the possibility of eventually joining the team full-time. I knew that it wasn’t going to be financially rewarding straight away, but I decided to take it—and continue my job search in the meantime. Pretty quickly, I went up to working full-time, and before long, I got offered the permanent UI designer position! Right now, I’m the only UI designer at the company.

Congratulations! What was it like starting a new role as the only UI designer in your company?

I wanted to learn from other designers, and I didn’t expect to have to do things on my own. Still, I feel that CareerFoundry has prepared me for this. If I do have questions, my colleagues are super helpful. I love being challenged in my job.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work with wireframes and prototypes, which I really enjoy. As they didn’t have a UI designer prior to my arrival, a lot of what I’m doing is just getting into the flow of things and setting these processes up.

What do you enjoy most about your new role?

I love that I’m creating products that both help the user and generate income for my company. I enjoy the daily challenge of solving problems with innovative solutions—it really keeps me on my toes. I also love the people I work with, although I’m not seeing much of them at the moment as I’m working from home.

What advice would you give to those looking to make a similar switch?

If you have an interest in it, go for it! It’s a great career with so many opportunities for growth, and so much to learn. It’s like lifelong learning with this career, which is so rewarding.

I did this at a time when so many people my age would be looking forward to retirement, not starting a new career. But I have no regrets. I’ve seen people on slack saying, “I’m 40—can I do this?” But I did it, and I’m older. Age shouldn’t be a factor, and I hope others don’t let it stop them!

Recommended reading: Starting a New Career at 40

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I’d love to still be at the company I’m at. I just want to continue learning and perfecting my craft. I enjoy remote working, and I think that things are going in that direction in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. But overall, I’m excited to see where this career takes me. I’m so happy right now with my career and my life, and it’s because of CareerFoundry!

To learn more about Martha’s journey, check out her LinkedIn and portfolio.

What You Should Do Now

If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if a career in design, development, data, or digital marketing is right for you — sign up here for a free short course in the field of your choice.

If you’d like to speak to an expert program advisor for free about how you can get a new job in tech — connect with us here.

by Jaye Hannah on 27 May 2020

About the author

CareerFoundry Marketing Content Editor Jaye Hannah

Jaye Hannah

Jaye Hannah is a freelance content writer and strategist, based between London and Lisbon. She's worked in EdTech for over five years, inspiring career changers on their journey into tech. When she's not writing, you'll find her whipping up new recipes in the kitchen.