How to Make a Career Change Into UX Design Using Your Current Experience
How to

How to Make a Career Change Into UX Design Using Your Current Experience

This content was created by Girlboss in partnership with General Assembly.

No matter what industry you’re in, you can’t go wrong with having tech skills on your resume. Nydak Kur is proof. She graduated from General Assembly’s 12-week, full-time UX Design Bootcamp back in March 2021, where more than 70,000 alumni have acquired the skills they need to start a career in tech they love that also loves them back, or advance their current career.

Nydak ended up landing a gig she loves: digital product manager at Commerce Bank. It was everything she had been working towards. How did she get there? Her past experience at U.S. Bank in customer support was essential for helping her land her new bank job, her UX Design bootcamp gave her the technical skills proven on her portfolio projects (more on that later) and her passion for helping people made her indispensable. “I can actually practice my creativity, and I'm working with a UX team,” says Nydak. “The tech skills [I gained through General Assembly] transfer over to everyday life because we're actually talking to everyday people wanting to improve their everyday life. Yes, they’re all UX-related, but as a digital product manager, I use all of that stuff. It’s just ingrained in you, wherever you go.”

During her 12-week bootcamp, Nydak learned the skills employers look for in UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) roles, how to use design programs like Figma, and how to prototype, wireframe, and do usability testing and competitive analysis. Plus, the program strengthened her people skills through the work with her GA career coach. One thing Nydak loved about General Assembly was that she got to work with real clients. “Being able to build that relationship and learn everything in the product stages was super beneficial,” she says. “That was the project that just put that golden star on the roadmap for everybody, including myself.” Those real-life projects were part of her bootcamp portfolio that helped her be competitive in front of hiring managers.

Nydak’s career coach at GA, Jessica Leigh Dow, really admired how Nydak was open to all of the new experiences the bootcamp offered. “She was basically up for anything. She's like, ‘Okay, I'm gonna take these skills that I have and I'm going to apply them to my client project and I'm going to be the best designer I can,” says Jessica.

And that type of mindset will help you in any industry. “Your technical skills and aptitude certainly enhance your ability to go out into the workforce and say ‘I can do this thing,’” says Jessica. “It's the combination of your transferable skills and tech skills that will really set you apart from others.” Think: Attention to detail, communication, willingness to troubleshoot, critical thinking, being able to question things, plus the technical skills of UX design: user research, prototyping, wireframing, interviewing, user journey... “Tech isn't going anywhere,” adds Jessica. “Tech is a part of every industry and it's evolving. New roles are being created especially with the dawn of AI, these fields will continue to adapt and grow. Take the chance. Tech skills are really something that anyone can acquire.

A Career Coach’s Tips for Harnessing Your Tech Skills

  • “Approach things with an engineering mindset: developing processes, setting up frameworks, and developing and designing solutions,” says Jessica. These are all things a designer or an engineer does, but you might have done it as a sales associate, or a server in a restaurant. It’s being able to tap into those skills.”

  • Just because you know a certain type of tech language (ie. JavaScript or Python), and the job description says they need you to know a different language, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for the job. As a GA grad, you’ve learned new languages in 12 weeks, so you can learn another language in 12 weeks. Use that to your advantage, she says.

  • Utilize your tech skills to teach others. “Then you've learned it,” says Jessica.

    After graduating, Nydak took a month off school and “took a little bit of a breather,” then began applying for jobs recommended by Jessica and her instructors. “Even after graduation, they were willing to have a one-on-one with you to check up on how you're doing and to see how they can help: doing mock interviews with you even though we did all of this during class, and helping read over your resume, sending you job applications, sending you hackathon links where you can join and practice your UX skills,” says Nydak.

    You could even say that Nydak manifested the job she has now. Nydak interviewed for a position at a major university after graduating from GA, and she got an offer which was a lower salary than the minimum they had on the job posting. “I just didn’t feel right about it,” she said. Nydak reached out to Jessica, and they agreed that it would be best if she didn’t take the job. “But I need you to write down what you need from a company,” Jessica told Nydak. 

    So, she did. “I wanted to be in a learning environment. I wanted to have a really kind boss who’s very empathetic, really caring and kind coworkers. I wanted to feel acknowledged and cared for. I wanted someone to look at me and say, ‘Hey, I know you don’t know this role, but we will teach you and help you grow. I didn’t write down UX. I didn’t write down product management. I didn’t think that I was going that way because I didn’t have those skills. But I just thought, ‘With my soft skills and experience in UX, I’m more than capable,’” says Nydak.

    Two weeks later, a recruiter from Commerce Bank messaged her on LinkedIn. “We spoke on the phone and I was hooked,” says Nydak.

    When asked if Nydak sees herself pursuing a career in UX design, she said: “I'm wanting to appreciate where I'm at and be an expert in my role right now. But maybe in the future, I'll start diving into it a little bit more, but I feel like for the most part, I fell in love with product management. And that is literally through UX.”

    No matter what industry you’re in or which one you want to work in, you can’t go wrong with adding tech skills to your resumé. We know doing a bootcamp is a big decision, with big rewards if planned thoughtfully. That’s why General Assembly is offering three beginner-friendly workshops and two events (they’re all FREE) to help you decide if a career change bootcamp is the missing step between you and a job you love!

    Looking Ahead: Skills and Trends Shaping Your Future Tech Career (Nov. 15)
    Hands-on Coding Basics: HTML & CSS (Nov. 21)
    Beginner’s Guide to Data Analytics (Nov. 28)
    Generative AI: Watch & Learn Demo (Dec. 12)
    Beginner’s Guide to UX Designer (Dec. 14)