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!
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