Megan’s story begins at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. As a Business Management student with an unyielding passion for fashion, Megan had a clear goal: become a fashion merchandiser, and work her way up the ladder to a senior position. She had the drive, the vision, and the grades to make it a reality. And yet, something felt amiss.
We can all relate to that feeling. It’s a feeling that is often tricky to articulate; the sense that you’re destined for something more, or not unlocking your true potential in your current field. The closer Megan came to completing her degree, the more her disconnect with fashion intensified. Was this the right career path for her?
For Megan, clarity came in the form of a marketing internship that she took up alongside her studies. Put to work across a range of tasks, Megan found herself dipping her toes into web design—from designing marketing campaigns to branding material. It wasn’t long before she realized she had a distinct passion for visual design—and she was pretty darn good at it, too.
Alongside this revelation came a wave of uncertainty and confusion about her future. Megan was forced to take a good look at the trajectory she was on. Was design what she was meant to be doing all along?
“I was trying to figure out how I could maneuver into a career in design without a design background. I felt this intense feeling of impostor syndrome—I didn’t feel like I could go back and do it all again.”
Impostor syndrome, a feeling of self-doubt that develops into the belief that you’re undeserving of your success, is something so many of us experience when a career change—or any major life decision—is imminent. If left to manifest, impostor syndrome can hinder us from taking risks, or following our passions.
Megan realized she couldn’t let impostor syndrome hold her back. Already enamored with design, she began watching YouTube tutorials, teaching herself Photoshop and playing around with Google Slides to get familiar with the visual design hierarchy. Her affinity for aesthetics initially lead her to consider a career in UI design, but upon learning more about the field, she yearned for something more challenging.
As soon as she came across UX design, a light switch went on in Megan’s head. This was the all-encompassing vocation she’d been looking for; the career that would allow her to create impactful designs with real purpose, while still enabling her to sink her teeth into the psychology behind consumer behavior that had captivated her as a marketing student. Extensive online research introduced her to the world of UX bootcamps, and after seeing the glowing reviews for CareerFoundry, she was sold.
With one week to go before graduation, Megan made a bold decision: she quit her marketing job, and enrolled in the CareerFoundry UI Design Program. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one that Megan felt was entirely justified.
“I realized that I just didn’t love marketing, and I didn’t want to be committed to doing something I didn’t love for the rest of my life.”
Fueled by a newfound sense of purpose, Megan invested all her time and energy into studying with CareerFoundry. She then spent an additional 2 months reviewing her portfolio, and completing the Job Preparation Course.
Despite her unwavering determination, Megan admits that she underestimated the job hunting process. Despite starting her job hunt before she’d even finished the course, she found that she was garnering little response from the 20—30 applications she was sending out daily. Picking up momentum when you’re in the midst of a grueling job hunt is never easy, but Megan had a secret weapon: Danielle Sanders. As CareerFoundry’s dedicated career specialist, it was Danielle’s unparalleled support that motivated Megan to stay focused.
“I loved how hands-on she was. She was really adamant on preparing me for working life. We did mock interviews, looked at salary compensation, she even gave me advice on how to talk to your boss or negotiate a higher salary. She taught me all the useful things that you don’t really learn in school.”
In the end, it was posting a design challenge she had completed on Medium that put her on the radar of her current employer; a data-driven health and wellness company called Rally Health, where Megan is a lead designer. Her current project? A community-based app that tracks your diet and fitness.
“It was the food and fitness tracker that I created with CareerFoundry that caught the eye of my boss and led me to this project. In fact, it was my entire CareerFoundry portfolio that helped me assimilate into my new role.”
Megan loves the collaborative nature of her new role. As a lead designer, she’s able to get involved with every stage of the product design process—from conducting user research interviews to creating hi-fidelity mockups. Now that she knows what she’s capable of, her sights are set higher than ever:
“In 5 years, I want to be a creative director. I feel a real passion for what I do, and I want to be a source of inspiration for others in the field.”
Climbing the ladder to creative director isn’t Megan’s only goal. Her experience as a UX designer has inspired her to return to university, and potentially go to grad school to study human-computer interaction or strategic design.
As our interview wraps up, I’m keen to revisit the issue of impostor syndrome that seems to have been a running theme on Megan’s journey. According to a recent report by Blind (2018), a whopping 58% of tech employees report experiencing imposter syndrome currently in their careers. Megan asserts that impostor syndrome is inevitable—but it shouldn’t hold you back.
“I’m only 22 and I’m already the lead designer at a great company. I came this far, and I need to remember that.”
As a young woman, entering a male-dominated field and working her way up quickly to lead designer is no small feat. When asked what advice she would have for people considering a career change, Megan’s answer is clear and concise: be proactive.
“Definitely try going to a design lecture or meetup at least every other week, just to get a sense of the field. Don’t be afraid of impostor syndrome. Most people experience it, and it can be good to keep you humble. It won’t last forever!”
Megan’s story is a testament to the power of dreaming big, no matter how many roadblocks might seem to obstruct your path. It’s a lesson we can all learn from, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!
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