From English Teacher To UX Designer: How I Put The Work In To Land My Dream Job

Read the inspiring story of how Sagan Pope went from English Teacher to UX Designer in just 5 short months…

by Jaye Hannah on 20 March 2019

sagan pope ux designer

Having initially studied Spanish and journalism in Canada, Sagan Pope moved to Spain to teach English for 5 years alongside working freelance in content marketing and copywriting. When she moved back to her native USA, Sagan felt confused—it didn’t feel clear to her which one of these skills she’d acquired she wanted to actually focus on. She ended up working in marketing, but soon realised that it wasn’t the career path for her. She then began doing some research on what other career paths she could do that would combine the creativity of teaching and writing but in a different field.

Through a rigorous search, she stumbled across a UX design job that caught her eye.

“Reading the job description, I realised it was actually the perfect fit for me and so I began researching on how I could make that transition—if I needed to get a master’s, what qualifications I needed etc. And that’s how I stumbled upon CareerFoundry”

When asked whether she’d heard about UX design before, Sagan admitted that it was completely new. It was the promise of creativity that drew her in—and she knew she wanted a job in the tech industry. Not only did CareerFoundry seem like the best value for her money compared to doing a university degree elsewhere. The flexibility of the course also hugely appealed to her, as this meant she could continue working full-time while she became certified.

One of Sagan’s top priorities was making the transition as quickly as possible. Through sheer determination (and a few late nights), she finished the UX Design Program in an impressive 5 months while working 40 hours a week—5 months less than the average time it takes to finish a CareerFoundry UX course. She cites the fact that the course was so interesting as a force for her motivation, as well as the value of having a mentor to guide her through the process. “I really liked having that connection, being able to ask questions and talk to folks who are already in the industry.”

She also notes that having the opportunity to work on your own projects is a wonderful way to come away from the programme with a portfolio that can be shown during interviews. In fact, she found the course so comprehensive that she felt like she’d gotten the same level of experience as she would have gotten in an internship.

Once she’d finished the course, Sagan wasted no time in networking and taking steps forward towards getting a job in the field. Armed with a robust portfolio, Sagan started getting interviews within a month of beginning her job search. Soon, she’d landed her dream job as a UX designer on the payroll and HR team of Tyler Technologies, a software company that sells software to the public sector.

Sagan now spends her days continually improving her company’s user experience. When asked about how she adjusted to her new role, she said she welcomed the change, stating:

“Honestly, it feels like I’ve been here forever. It feels like I fit right in, because this is the exact job that I was meant to be doing. I get to work with clients who are super excited to help us out and looking forward to the improvements that we’re working on within the software. It just makes me happy to come to work every day compared to past roles that have felt more like a job.”

All in all, it’s the creativity and the value of UX design that makes her so passionate about it. Getting the opportunity to hear client feedback, taking that to the drawing board and then seeing the finished product is what makes UX design so exciting. Doing a UX course with CareerFoundry allowed her to build on the skills she already had from teaching, like facilitation and team leadership, and apply them in her design sessions—meaning she doesn’t feel like her past careers are totally obsolete in her new role.

When asked about what advice she would give to anyone considering switching to a career in UX design, Sagan stated:

“Make sure you take on any projects that you can, make connections and build on your portfolio. That’s what’s going to get you in the door of a company. It takes hard work—but once you put the effort in, you’ll see the results. And that’s a great feeling!”

Sagan hasn’t looked back since, and her story is a testament to the fact that hard work will always take you to where you need to be!

Do you want to follow in Sagan’s footsteps and become a UX designer? Book a call today with one of our experienced program advisors to find out whether the CareerFoundry UX Design Program is a good fit for you. After the call, you’ll receive a comprehensive, takeaway guide to switching to a career in UX design.

by Jaye Hannah on 20 March 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.