How I Retrained As A UX Designer And Landed A Dream Job—And All For Free

After studying business administration, Alexander realised he was destined for greater things. Here’s how he was able to retrain in UX design for free with the German Job Centre.

by Jaye Hannah on 31 July 2019

alexander frimpong

How do you go from business administration to UX design? With dedication, hard work, and a positive attitude. At least, that was the case for German native Alexander…

When it comes to choosing a university subject, most people are sure they know what they want to do. For Alexander, it was no different. As a young man, he enrolled in a Business Administration degree, confident that he was on the right track. But it wasn’t long before he started feeling a fundamental disconnect with his studies. Something was missing—he just couldn’t quite articulate what it was.

Following the completion of his degree, Alexander dove into a job in marketing and sales. It was then that it hit him: he simply wasn’t happy with his career trajectory. But if marketing wasn’t his true calling, then what was?

Casting his mind back to his bachelor’s thesis, which focused on service design, Alexander realized it was the field of design that truly engaged and fascinated him. Through further research, he discovered User Experience Design—and a lightbulb went on in his head.

“When I was studying business administration, I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I loved the business side of things, but I also craved the opportunity to be creative. As time went on, I started wondering if there was a profession out there that combined business thinking with creativity. That’s exactly what UX design is; it’s about trying to align business goals with user goals, and that’s what I love about it. Back then, I couldn’t imagine that such a vocation existed, but I’m so glad I discovered UX design.” 

Liberated by the realization that a fulfilling career was within his grasp, Alexander began researching courses that would allow him to segway into UX design. Meanwhile, his friend Ryan was doing a course with CareerFoundry—and absolutely loving it! Hearing about Ryan’s positive experience with CareerFoundry was all the proof Alexander needed to book a call with our program advisors.

As he was unemployed at the time, Alexander was eligible to receive an educational voucher from the Agentur für Arbeit (the German job center) which meant he could do the course for free within three months. Filled with a renewed excitement about the future, Alexander knew the stars were finally aligning in his favor—and immediately enrolled as a student with CareerFoundry.

Alexander’s favorite aspect of the course? The freedom to study on his own terms, at his own pace. Upon learning this, I find I’m not surprised; many people anticipate that they’ll struggle with online, flexibly-paced learning, as they worry they won’t have the self-discipline to see it through. However, like Alexander, most of our students are pleasantly surprised at the sense of agency and autonomy that online learning can offer.

Alexander cites the job prep course as being equally valuable. In his own words:

“Doing the course is one thing, but the real challenge is taking everything you’ve learned on the course and applying it to a new career. UX design isn’t like any other vocation. It’s not just going to work and doing the 9 to 5; it’s what you do outside of your working hours—how you improve, and how you network. There’s a lot more to it, and the job prep course really gets you ready for that.” 

Like so many of our students, Alexander’s confidence began to waver during the job hunting process. Due to the lack of junior positions on the job market, he worried that he would have to start from scratch with an internship. Luckily, with the advice and support of our talented career specialists on hand, Alexander dug deep for the strength to give the job hunt his all. He began ferociously networking and attending regular events, which he candidly admits wasn’t an easy task due to his introverted nature.

Job hunts force you to step out of your comfort zone, which can often make you feel hugely vulnerable and overwhelmed. In Alexander’s case, overcoming his apprehensions hugely paid off—because he soon landed a UX designer position at a creative agency in Berlin.

Starting a new job is never easy—especially when it’s your first job in a new career—but Alexander asserts that he never let his doubts overshadow his motivation to succeed.

“Everyone enters a new job with some insecurities, but I never thought of them as something to be afraid of. I had to start somewhere! Mostly I was just really excited and eager to finally do all the things that I learned on the course.” 

For Alexander, no two days are the same. His current position sees him dip his toes into all aspects of UX design; from visual design to user testing, and just about everything in-between. He collaborates with UI designers, developers, performance marketers, and data analysts, which allows him to gain insights from a myriad of diverse perspectives. Above all, he enjoys the buzz of working directly with clients—taking the time to understand their needs, and helping them to realize their vision.

When the conversation turns to the future, there’s one field that Alexander is keen to explore: UX strategy. UX strategy is the plan and approach for a digital product, which involves balancing technical limitations with stakeholder expectations and user’s needs. Alexander’s interest in UX strategy was piqued following a workshop hosted by Jaime Levy, author of best-selling O’Reilly Media book “UX strategy.” After probing further into the field, he discovered that this was a niche that truly aligned with his values.

“I want to know why I’m building a product and the vision behind it. That’s why I’m so drawn to UX strategy; it combines user research, business strategy, and problem-solving through value innovation.”

Alongside exploring UX strategy, Alexander sees himself taking on more responsibilities in the future—and potentially even managing his own team. One thing’s for sure; Alexander finally feels like the world is his oyster.

For those considering a career in UX design, Alexander offers these sobering (but incredibly poignant) words of advice:

“UX always sounds so fancy, but I think it’s important to manage your expectations. A lot of people rush into UX design without really taking the time to understand what it is. There’s something for everyone in UX design, but it’s so vital to do your research and start thinking about what kind of role you expect to get out of it. 

Being a UX designer is a constant learning experience—you’re always improving your skills until you start to find a niche for yourself. Make sure you’re ready for that before you commit!“ 

We can’t wait to see what Alexander does next!

Did you know Alexander isn’t the only CareerFoundry graduate to switch from business administration to design? Check out this success story from Garance, who started her career as a management consultant, but found herself longing for more creativity. With CareerFoundry’s help, she has finally found her calling in product design.

What You Should Do Now

If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if a career in design, development, digital marketing, or data 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 31 July 2019

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.